When things don’t go to plan we often feel discouraged and the last thing we feel we need is another piece of advice, however well intentioned. Jesus tells Simon to put out the nets. Again. ‘But’…you can feel Simon’s reticence, ‘we had a bad night, we got nothing, why would it be different now?’ But, Jesus has been good news so far so…maybe. Maybe it will be different…so Simon does it. He casts the nets. Suddenly it is radically different. The nets are straining under the weight of fish. It is overwhelming. Simon wasn’t ready for this. Immediately he feels the significance of what is happening but struggles to understand it. So Jesus reassures him. This is a picture of abundance. ‘ Only instead of fish you will catch people’. The word for catch here means to ‘catch alive’. Simon’s obedience will lead to life, abundant life, not just for him but for all the people he will ‘catch’ lead, heal, nurture and influence in the future.
This is a huge step of faith for Simon. How he chooses to use his one life. Jesus had been good news in his experience and so he obeys. That act of obedience becomes one step on his journey to becoming the one Jesus would later entrust with ‘the keys of the kingdom’ what greater honour could there be than that?
What about our response? How ready are we to recognise that our obedience could lead to life in abundance not just for ourselves but for others; whether that is our friend or work colleague or hundreds of people in our network. Our response affects everything: all our choices about our one life. How we use our time, our talents, our resources. Choosing obedience to the call of Jesus changes things, and like many others, in my experience this is good news.Very good news indeed. It starts with a single step and can end in all kinds of abundance; peace, generosity, forgiveness, hope and wholeness as we ‘catch alive’ many who long for these things in our world today.