In our Gospel reading from Luke 5, we read about “why some people don’t catch fish.” This reflection beyond catching of fish or washing of nets resonates why some churches and people don’t win souls into God’s kingdom. God never wanted it to be so, that is why He gave us His word. Hosea gives us a picture of how people, church, nations decline and perish not from lack of money, technology or theology, but lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). People simply do not lack knowledge especially about Jesus and His word; they actively reject or deny Him. The consequence of lacking or rejecting God’s Word, that is, correct fishing password is the rejection of our positions before God even as ‘priests.’ Simon recognised the presence of God and therefore his own sinfulness, perhaps in questioning Jesus (Lk 5:5, 7).
Technically, ‘a password, sometimes called a passcode (for example in Apple devices), is secret data, typically a string of characters, usually used to confirm a user’s identity.’ A password as ‘a secret word or phrase that must be used to gain admission to a place’ reminds us that “if you don’t know the password you can’t come in.” Incorrect password is not only stressful, self-shaming, it generates bad news and error messages. Jesus is our identity as Christians. His words as our fishing password gives access to overcome all night vain labour, empty nets, ministry or career frustration and decline. Wrong fishing password not only generates all night vain labour and empty nets, it points to theological errors, pride, and ignorance. The three words, “At thy word” as the correct fishing password gives access and the basis for salvation Gospel as the remedy to our empty pews, church and leadership decline (Lk 5:1-11). “At thy word” beyond human knowledge, skill, philosophy and debate takes God at His Word and promises. “At thy word” makes impossible possible and that God’s way is always the best way. “At thy Word,” as the missional and fishing password from the beginning is what makes every kneel to bow till date (Gen 1). “At thy Word,” that is, by the Word of the Lord, heavens and earth were made. Even when the earth was formless, the Lord’s voice was heard, “Let there be light,” and “at thy word,” light leaped forth, day and night took up their places.
The Gospel reading in many ways beyond the story of the miraculous draught of fishes gives us the spiritual reflection. Simon and his fishing team laboured in vain all night catching nothing because they lacked the fishing password. Simon’s empty net is just a consequence of his lack of revelation. The root of Simon’s vain and fruitless all night fishing is not about lack of professionalism or skill just as the root of church and leadership decline today is not lack of theology, technology, orators, administrators, preachers among others.
Values or fishing for people are never dependent on titles or professionalism. The reason ‘why some people don’t catch fish’ suggests that such people refuse to obey and also go into deep water. Many don’t catch fish because they don’t expect to, forgetting that expectation is the first-born child of faith. Believe in God is not abstract. Believe in God is about expecting the things that God has promised to us, “At thy Word.” Jesus promises that Simon will fish for people. Today, many don’t catch and can’t fish for people because they know more about fish and people than God. The Simon in each of us makes the mistake of telling God that we know better. We know fishing is best at night, they don’t run in the day. We assume we know about theology, love, marriage, mission, healing, forgiveness, parenting and even money than God. When we assume we know everything, we forget that God is God.
Just as Jesus told Simon, He is telling you and I to leave the shadows and go to the deep. The schools of big fish are in the deeper water, hence to fulfil the fishing rule, we have to go where the fish are with the fishing password. Beyond the idea of a common fish, Jesus is teaching us a spiritual depth. Fish could be substitute for abundance of membership, healing, joy, hope and peace. Deep water, where there is increase takes faith, focuses of mind, and renewal of heart.
The fishing password, “At thy Word” reminds us that, the Word of Christ is our supreme rule, our way, and our sufficient warrant. Our present decline, emptiness, pride and frustration summons us to obey and use the fishing password, ‘At thy word,’ as a way of abundant life and new beginning. The fishing password, ‘At thy Word,’ invites our hearts, lips and lives to agree that “God’s foolishness is wiser than any human wisdom.” Beloved, the path of sin leads one down the road into greater insensitivity to sin just as the path to abundance leads one high the road into greater sensitivity to revelation of the fishing password, “At thy word.”
Fishing password, “At thy Word” is the key to invasion of grace and it calls for cooperation with Jesus once we allow Him to get into the boat of our church, family, marriage, and nations. It was Simon’s honesty and humble capacity to comprehend the fishing password, ‘At thy Word’ that made him to experience God majesty and abundant life. God is calling us to let down the net of the gospel, proclaiming freedom from sin, empty and declining ministry ONLY in obedience to the word of Jesus. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, Jesus is the Almighty, Jesus is the Ancient of Days, Jesus is the Anchor of our souls, Jesus is the Answer, Jesus is the Authority on earth and in heaven.