14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
The disciple named Andrew in our story today, is a person we really don’t know much about. In fact, he only appears in the gospels 9 times and most of them are either in a list of disciples or being mentioned as Peter’s brother. These obscure characters in the Bible sometimes gnaw at me a little bit. I want to know who they really are. So, in the interest of not letting a good fish story go to waste—I made this little story up as to who Andrew might have really been.
It is so good to be here telling you a story today about Jesus. It is one of the things I have learned I am pretty good at—telling stories. I used ot not have the luxury of telling stories. It all happened like this one day, I was so tired. I have been up the last three nights trying to catch some fish and then all day trying to untangle these dang nets. It’s a tough time of year because the water temperature is changing and the fish are moving. Usually here on the north shore the fish are abundant. But when the air gets cooler at night they go deeper. That means we are going to also get our boats out and start using our dragnets. The seines we throw from the shore is not going to work for a few months again.
I suppose I should back up a little bit and tell you a little bit about my family. It seems like that is always a good place to start. My dad’s name is actually Jonah, but he didn’t like all the jokes he heard about being caught in a fish as a fisherman so he adopted the nickname of John. We lost Dad a few years ago, he had been working many nights in a row setting and pulling nest when a big storm came in. Not long after he got a cough and then he was in bed with a fever and then he died.
Every since then my brother Peter and I have tried to keep the fishing business going. It’s a good business but it is hard work and let me tell you we don’t get rich of these fish. Peter is a good kid, but as my little brother sometimes he gets his mouth going before his bran kicks in. He has caused several arguments among the other fishermen about where our territories are to fish. He just says some of the dumbest things sometimes and gets everybody all riled up. I thought he would outgrow it, but it hasn’t happened yet. It has been especially hard on him since Dad died. He thinks he has to be the spokesperson for us. Thank Yahweh for our old friend Zebedee and his boys James and John.
They have kind of taken us in down here. Helped us find a house in Capernaum so we could be closer to the shore and keep Mom with us. Peter has found a real nice wife who helps to care of Mom since she has gotten older and doesn’t remember so well anymore. We grew up with James and John they are real characters and don’t mind mixing it up with other fellas either. Throw Peter in the mix and it can just crazy if we go into town to get a drink. That’s sometimes the good part of being so busy—they can’t get in near as much trouble. Peter has been better since he got married as well, but he still likes hanging with the boys.
We all met in Sabbath school. When you go to Sabbath school it’s a pretty good competition to see who will be picked by the priests to stay and get more training and who will be sent out to work with their Dads because they don’t quite have the smarts or the giftedness that comes from Yahweh. As you can tell the four us were not quite so gifted. The old rabbi gave us the standard line, “now boys Yahweh calls us all to do different things with our lives. Some get to be teachers and some get to be fisherman. We wish you well as a fisherman. See you on Saturday when you come to temple.”
We have done anything to not have to work these crazy hours and smell like fish every day. But when that’s all you can do, that’s what you do.
Then there was that one day when we were working at the shore all four of us, Peter James, John and myself. We saw this man approach us and he just kind of stood there for awhile watching. It was not that much out of the ordinary. Often times people would watch us sort the nightly catch and if we had caught some eels or crawfish, we would throw them away since they weren’t kosher and they would take them with them and eat them. Food is mighty hard for some folks to come by these days.
He came a little closer and I recognized him as one of the guys who had been hanging around with John the Baptist. The four of us had heard about old John doing his baptizing thing, so we all went to see what it was about. He was preaching about a new rabbi who was the light of the world and how he was unworthy to untie his sandals. That didn’t mean too much to me, we never even had sandals working the lake. This fellah seemed to be around the edges and we saw him get baptized one day and when he come out of the water the wind started howling a bird landed on him and then he headed out towards the desert. That must have been about 5-6 weeks ago. And here he is just watching us.
He walked over to us finally and he said, “If you will follow me and I make you fish for people.” This was it, the chance for us to be with our own rabbi and not have to fish anymore. All those days of being told we were not good enough, or smart enough, or worthy enough to be a priest had ended. Peter and I dropped everything to follow this guy and see what he was all about. He walked down the shore a little way and he invited James and John to do the same.
We had no idea what we were in for after we left it all. It was interesting the twists and turns that would occur. I had the privilege of being with Jesus and the other disciples he would later call for the rest of Jesus’ life. He taught us about what it meant to care for others. He showed us so many people what were desperate for a miracle and he gave it to them. One day I was able to find a young boy that had 2 fish and five loaves of barley bread and he sued it to feed thousands of people who came to see him. Another time Nathaniel met some folks from Greece and they had heard about Jesus and wanted to meet him. I was able to introduce them as well. That has kind of been my job since he died and was resurrected.
I have introduced people to Jesus, whether in person or to the faith of God’s love for all children. I have moved from that dry and dusty place known as Galilee to what you would call Northern Europe. Scotland, I think it’s called. I just move from place to pace and seek to tell others about Jesus and his invitation to be a follower. Many people have told other people about Jesus and word has spread quickly. In fact, so much I have to keep on the move because some people don’t like my stories and they want to kill me.
Someday I hope people can share the good news of Jesus and they are not harassed. I know that Jesus’ story will ever grow old to people. It’s just too good and the promise of his love will be with believers their entire life. Do you know someone who needs to hear a good story? Jesus calls all of us to tell fishing stories while we are fishing for people. Amen.