Are you a fish out of water as a fish for people?

Updated: Jan 30

I don’t know if I have mentioned this before, but I am psychic.


I mean that I have an ability to know what the future will be … up to five minutes before that future happens.


Now, this is not a controllable ability.  It comes and goes.  Usually, I can only understand these enlightenments that burst into my normal mental activities in hindsight.


What I mean by that is I do not have an epiphany, or an “ah ha moment.”  It is more like a Homer Simpson moment.


“Doh!” <slap forehead>


Homer Simpson

For example, the last time a “vision” happened to me, I was walking out of the grocery store.  I went to the store with my wife, and after checking out we split up – she went to the car and I went to the pharmacy.  Since it always takes a long time at the pharmacy, she went to the car and loaded up, and then she waited for me at the front door.


As I walked outside, I saw my wife sitting behind the wheel of a running car, in the “No Parking” area.  At that time my psychic sense said to me, “Drive.”


I heard that suggestion loud and clear; but in an instance I rattled off reasons why not to “Drive.”


1.  My wife was sitting in the driver seat.

2.  The car was in a zone that needed to be exited quickly.

3.   My wife has a driver’s license.


Without a pause in my steps, I walked to the passenger door and got in.  Off we drove.


Then …


As we got down the road, less than two minutes later, my wife got a call on her cell phone.  It was someone she was supposed to meet at the church, at about that time.  My trip to the pharmacy had taken longer than we had planned.  This person calling was already at the church.


Before wife could look over at me, I said, “Go to the church.  I’ll drive home and take care of the groceries.  I’ll come pick you up when you call, if need be.”


You see, a smarter mind than me told me to drive because that mind knew it would be the smoothest future ahead … the route of least resistance.


But, I resisted that suggestion and because of that I had to get out of the car (without bumping our car door against the woman’s car that was already at the church) and walk around and get in the driver’s seat.  Then I had to back out, drive home, and unload the groceries.


Before we arrived at the church, I told my wife, “I knew I should have taken your place as driver ….”


No one understands these “premonitions” until after they have become “I shouldas.”


I have an idea of where I'm headed, but still I travel the safest path.

I have an idea of where I’m headed, but still I travel the safest path.


I believe everyone here has this same ability.  We all have foresight and we all have hindsight; but the question is how often do we use our insight?


The saying goes: Hindsight is 20/20.


You can add to that: You need special lenses to see the present; and the future is clouded by conditions of vision that act as blinders.


In all of the readings today, including the lyrics of Psalm 62, the message is like that insight I had, which said to me, “Drive.”


That word was not accompanied by the heavens parting, a dove of light beaming down upon me – illuminating me so all the people walking in and out of the grocery store paused and gasped.  There was no loud, booming voice saying, “DRIVE!”


What I heard sounded like my voice.  It sounded like me telling me what to do.  Because it sounded so normal, and because I know so well that I have had many thoughts that have best been ignored, I did not blink an eye as I walked the wrong way.


Therefore, in my mind’s eye, I can see Jonah, David, Paul, and those who heard Jesus – Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John of Zebedee – hearing a voice inside their heads that sounded like themselves speaking to themselves.


The miracle is then that they all did the right thing and went the right way.


Jonah went to the great city Nineveh.


David wrote lyrics to memorize and sing, as a practice to prepare others to go the right way.


Paul wrote a letter that explained just how easy it is to go the wrong way, thinking nothing of it.


And Mark noted how those who go the right way are specifically named, but those who don’t are generalized.


While everyone went the right way in the readings of today, a keen eye sees that all of those named people had been given a second chance.


second chance

In David’s song he wrote, “God has spoken once, twice I have heard it.”


Jonah’s chapter begins by saying, “The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time.”


We all know that Paul was writing from the perspective of an Apostle, one who first ignored God’s call as he held the cloaks of those stoning Stephen to death.


And, the disciples of Jesus were all Jews who, despite knowing all the laws of Moses and all the prophecies of what to watch for, none of them had heard a call to quit their day jobs and follow a guy that happened to be walking by.


Jonah had first heard God tell him to get up and go to Nineveh and tell them they were wicked and that they were going to be destroyed, about a week or so before what we read today.  In essence, he had heard God say, “Drive,” and instead he immediately went to the passenger door.


We don’t read that today, but we all know the story of Jonah and the whale.  Jonah was running away from God telling him to go to Nineveh.  He took a boat in the opposite direction and the seas got rough.  The sailors on that boat became fearful and figured out Jonah was the cause of God’s wrath, so they threw him overboard.  God saved Jonah by sending a big fish to swallow him.


Because Jonah was saved by the whale, he was given a second chance to go to Nineveh.

This tendency to go the wrong way is seen when Mark wrote, “And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”  He then wrote, “They left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men.”


Have you ever been fishing?


You have to have patience.  You have to enjoy the peace and quiet.  For as many fish as there are in the water, you are happy when you get a bite; and you are even happier when you catch one fish … or more.


You know you aren’t going to catch all the fish.  “There’s plenty more fish in the sea …,” as the saying goes.


But, when Jesus said, “I will make you fish for people,” he was not “fishing,” per se.  He was not trolling for disciples.


In fact, it wasn’t Jesus speaking … even though he probably opened his mouth and those words came out.  God spoke those words.  The ones who heard them “intuited” a promise was from God.  Thus, the four named men heard the voice inside their head say, “Drive,” and they went the right way.  They followed Jesus.


Still, when we hear “fish” as a verb, we think of the potential of saving souls, where patience pays off in the long run.  We see fishermen with nets to catch fish and see the analogy of fishermen with nets to catch disciples.  You are “fishing,” therefore you will still be “fishing.”


But, think of “fish” as a noun.


When you hear that said once, in a second way … “twice I have heard it”… you see Jesus is himself a “big fish.”  Jesus is the epitome of the whale that saved Jonah, sent by God to swallow other reluctant servants of the Lord.  Jesus was then himself a “big fish.”  A big fish saved Jonah by swallowing him, transforming him after three days inside, spitting him out as a reformed prophet.  Thus, Jesus called for volunteers to “follow me,” meaning become the next generation of big fish to save humans; and in the enclosed environment of discipleship, they would be spit out into Apostleship.


Hearing “I will make you fishermen” as “I will make you fish saving men” means that those who would follow him would themselves be “made fish.”   They would become whales “for people,” as vehicles of salvation.


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If you recall the story that Jesus told the Pharisees, where he said he was the gate keeper of the sheep fold, he said that he was also the gate.  “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. “ (John 10:9a)


As the gate through which others enter, others would become Good Shepherds to the flock.  Jesus is saying he is the whale from which Jonahs will exit.


The big fish, or what we commonly call the whale of Jonah, represents the sheepfold.  God then becomes the big fish that swallows a lamb, surrounding that with the Holy Spirit of God.


Jonah stopped being fearful when he spent three days in the belly of the whale.  Jonah stopped running from that voice he heard inside his head and became a Good Shepherd.


Jesus said that once a lamb leaves the sheepfold they follow the voice of their shepherd.  BUT … some shepherds are only hired hands.


In John 10:11-13 Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.”


When one recalls the analogy of a “hired hand” to a bad shepherd, one can then read Mark write, “They left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men.”


That is a profound statement, especially if one knows the Church of Rome, where the seat of the Papacy is located, refers to that seat as the “Bark of Saint Peter.”  A “bark” is a “boat.”  We sit in a “nave,” which comes from the Latin word meaning “ship.”


The first symbol for Christianity was the “fish” symbol (<><).


The name Zebedee means, “Yahweh Has Bestowed,” or “Gift of the Lord.”  From this gift came two sons who would be Good Shepherds to the flock; but Zebedee represents more than one man, one father.


Zebedee represents the remnant of Israel and Judah, which had been given a second chance.  Zebedee represents Jerusalem.


Those who James and John left behind are then the hired hands of Jerusalem, or those who cannot hear when the word of God speaks.  If they do hear it, they run away.  They write off the word of God as themselves talking crazy talk to themselves.


hired hands

The hired hands flee from responsibility when they hear themselves think, “Go to the great city that is three days walk across and tell them, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news’ of a prophet.”


When one can see Zebedee as representative of Jerusalem, then it is not hard to see how Jerusalem represents the rebirth of Nineveh.  The hired men on that boat are the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Temple priests who care nothing for the sheep.  They are not fish of salvation, but fishermen seeking material food.


The result of being led by bad shepherds … of being false leaders … is that time is running out and the sheep will be overthrown.  The wolf will attack and scatter them.


Salvation comes from hearing the word of the Lord, proclaiming a forty day fast from sin, and putting on sackcloth that represents submission to the big fish … the Holy Spirt sent by Christ.


In Jonah we read, “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them.”  Jesus refers to his ministry as a prophet as like that of Jonah, as one who speaks the word of the Lord so that people hear that voice and go the right way.


Turning from evil ways requires faith.  It requires hearing the word of God and not running away.


Paul stated how evil ways are so often found in mundane things, such as:


Being married to human wives, rather than Jesus, through the Holy Spirit.


Mourning those who physically die, rather than see a symbolic death as a requirement before one can come out of the whale and do as the Lord says.


Rejoicing in earthly delights, rather than experiencing the euphoria of hearing God tell you which way to go.


Hoarding material comforts, seeking possessions, rather than sharing with others – becoming a fish of salvation – finding comfort in the promise of faith.


Dealing with those who buy and sell souls, rather than finding the only deal worth making is with Christ.


Why would God promise virgins as a heavenly reward when souls are immortal and God is the Creator?


Paul said, “The present form of the world is passing away.”


Jonah told the people of Nineveh, “Forty days more!”


David sang, “Those of high degree are but a fleeting breath.”


And Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled.”


We need to be able to see how we are not reading about the successes and failures people long gone from the face of the earth.  We are reading the stories of our lives, in our relationship with God and Christ, while using the name of others to make it seem like we have no responsibility other than sit and do nothing.


In this season called Epiphany, the time has come to realize this message has never changed.  It is now as it once was.  It is for all times, because at all times we are only one heartbeat away from “passing away.”


The characters presented today heard the voice of God twice, before they reacted and went the right way.


The root meaning for the word “psychic” is “soul,” and we all have one of those.  So, we all hear the word of the Lord telling us to go the right way.


We all get those intuitive messages to “Drive,” to “Go,” “to Follow.”


How many more times will we opt for the passenger seat?


Amen

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