Strength in Numbers: 153 Fish
Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. John 21:11
For hundreds of years, commentators have wondered why John specifically said the disciples caught 153 fish when they drew up the nets at Christ’s command. Jerome believed there were 153 varieties of fish in the Sea of Galilee, and the catch of fish represented the full reach of foreign missions. Augustine explained the number using a formula involving multiples of the Ten Commandments and the seven spirits of God.
There’s probably no symbolic meaning to 153, but it’s an indication of how detailed our Lord is in His knowledge and calculations. He’s a Savior who knows every fish in the sea, every bird in the air, every hair on our heads, and every step of our pathway. He knows when we get up and when we lie down. He knows our thoughts before they spring into our minds; and every fact and factoid of creation is recorded in His omniscient wisdom.
He calls us to be fishers of men, and every individual is known, valued, and loved by Him. As the shepherd numbers his sheep and the fisherman his catch, so Jesus knows each one whose name is written in the Book of Life.
The number of the saved is to us a matter of which we know nothing definitely, yet secretly and invisibly the Lord has counted them even to the odd one. Charles Spurgeon
The Dilemma of Obedience
Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision. —1 Samuel 3:15
God never speaks to us in dramatic ways, but in ways that are easy to misunderstand. Then we say, “I wonder if that is God’s voice?” Isaiah said that the Lord spoke to him “with a strong hand,” that is, by the pressure of his circumstances (Isaiah 8:11). Without the sovereign hand of God Himself, nothing touches our lives. Do we discern His hand at work, or do we see things as mere occurrences?
Get into the habit of saying, “Speak, Lord,” and life will become a romance (1 Samuel 3:9). Every time circumstances press in on you, say, “Speak, Lord,” and make time to listen. Chastening is more than a means of discipline— it is meant to bring me to the point of saying, “Speak, Lord.” Think back to a time when God spoke to you. Do you remember what He said? Was it Luke 11:13, or was it 1 Thessalonians 5:23? As we listen, our ears become more sensitive, and like Jesus, we will hear God all the time.
Should I tell my “Eli” what God has shown to me? This is where the dilemma of obedience hits us. We disobey God by becoming amateur providences and thinking, “I must shield ‘Eli,’ ” who represents the best people we know. God did not tell Samuel to tell Eli— he had to decide that for himself. God’s message to you may hurt your “Eli,” but trying to prevent suffering in another’s life will prove to be an obstruction between your soul and God. It is at your own risk that you prevent someone’s right hand being cut off or right eye being plucked out (see Matthew 5:29-30).
Never ask another person’s advice about anything God makes you decide before Him. If you ask advice, you will almost always side with Satan. “…I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood…” (Galatians 1:16).
It is not what a man does that is of final importance, but what he is in what he does. The atmosphere produced by a man, much more than his activities, has the lasting influence. Baffled to Fight Better, 51 L
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