Ancient Proverb —
“As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.” — -Ecclesiastes 9:12
Fishing for Souls
All living creatures experience hunger. This fact is important to fishermen because they know that fish can be caught through their need for food. Those who fish for the sport of it, use devices called lures that smell and look like food to attract hungry fish. Of course, trouble begins for the fish when, driven by hunger, it swallows the lure. It is too late when the fish discovers the lure is not edible. Even worse, the nasty barbed hook hidden within the lure won’t let go. It’s the ultimate sting operation. The fish is tempted to swallow something that ultimately terminates its life.
Fishermen want to know when and where fish like to feed. They spend hours discussing this topic because they can save a lot of time and increase their joy by going where fish are known to thrive. When a fisherman hooks a fish, he is inspired to keep fishing even if the fish is too little to eat.
Of course, the bigger the catch, the greater the pleasure. When a fish resists the hook, fishermen love that, too. They enjoy wearing the fish down through fatigue and after a while, the fish gives up the struggle and submits to its captor. Such is the sport of fishing and it has an very painful parallel.
Human beings share some similarities with fish. We, too, are driven by hunger. People have appetites for money, pleasure, sex, food, knowledge, fame, position, etc. and our adversary, the devil, and his demons are expert fishermen. They have carefully studied our appetites and ways and they know where and when to prey on our basic needs to lure us into sin.
The devil’s demons have a beautiful lure for every hunger and each lure has a nasty barbed hook hidden within it. Unlike the fishing sportsman, demons do not throw the small “fries” back in the water to mature. The devil and his demons play for keeps. They intend to cause permanent injury whenever possible.
The devil wants to trash our self respect. He loves to humiliate and diminish us through guilt and make us feel like garbage. He wants us to loathe ourselves as he loathes himself. The devil hooks his victims with the painful consequences of sin just for the fun of it and he enjoys wearing his victims down with their addictions to sin. A “big fish” now and then, really makes the devil happy. When a notorious person falls into a scandal, the devil and his demons jump for joy! Demons are dispatched throughout the world with a tackle box full of lures to catch the unsuspecting, and they rarely return without a catch. They are good, very good, fishermen.
Jesus also fishes for souls, but in a different way. He uses lures without hooks to catch people for the Kingdom of God. His most beautiful lure is love. To love and be loved is a basic need within the human being. This is why the gospel of Christ is encased in a story of God’s great love for man.
If God’s love and the sacrifice of Jesus do not touch your heart, your heart is too full of self to respond to love. Another lure Jesus uses is the “lure of truth and integrity.” People who love truth and integrity find the gospel of Jesus deeply interesting and attractive. Truth sets us free from the darkness of ignorance and integrity brings joy to our lives. Many people do not love truth and integrity. This was the case when Jesus was on Earth. Jesus explained the ways of God to His listeners, but His explanations were so different and so odd that few people could accept them.
Those who loved truth and integrity saw awesome beauty in His words while the others heard awful blasphemy. Jesus also uses the “lure of rescue” to reach people who are hurting. Some people are not attracted to Jesus until their lives are in such a hopeless mess that they need to be saved from their present circumstances.
In short, the Kingdom of God will one day be filled with an odd group of people – people who were lured by God’s love, people who were lured by truth, people who were lured by God’s integrity and righteousness and people who will be filled with gratitude for all that God has done for them. Jesus, the Fisherman of Galilee, will show His catch to the Father with a great big smile!
Jesus said, “. . . . The kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:47-50)
You can continue reading part 2 here.