There is something about a dory that lights up the imagination. These little boats lure us to bygone days which have been romanticized and influenced by lore and art. They draw one to Celtic ballads, Irish fiddling, and tales and tragedies of the hard scrabble life of cod fishing on the Grand Banks; They remind us of the harsh reality of life on the sea and Newfoundland’s struggling hamlets.
They conjure up Winslow Homer paintings of men in weather gear, fighting the elements, balancing their dories against sea swells while pulling nets filled with herring, or rowing their catch of large cod through dark, rough seas back to the distant fishing schooners whose sails always lie on the horizon.
They are reminders of the Galilean fishermen who became Christ’s disciples. Those men faced harsh seas and sudden tempests. They understood hard and sometimes disappointing work. However, when they met Jesus, their world views slowly changed, and the focus of their fishing altered radically. Jesus called them to be “fishers of men”, to no longer net fish into boats but to bring men into God’s Kingdom, where one might have thought they themselves would have been safe from life’s storms. However, their earthly lives darkened with waves of opposition, hatred, and persecution and ended tragically yet triumphantly! Following their Lord and “fishing for men” eventually resulted in their martyrdom or exile. Nevertheless, they persevered with confidence and with an unshakable faith, assured because they had “been with Jesus.”
The Apostle John, who walked with Jesus for three years, captured this thought as he spoke of Jesus: ” We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.” (1 John 1:1-4 (NLT2)
These Galilean fishermen were at the beginning of a ground swell that would sweep across nations and centuries. And amazingly, they are still fishing several thousand years later! God continues to use them to explain and proclaim the Gospel and help men and women enter His Kingdom. Even though their boats and nets are long gone, they have left an ongoing legacy for which all believers are grateful. The Church “is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone …” (Ephesians 2:19-22)