It’s sunrise. The day after Fishing Opener.
Location: Sea of Galilee.
Date: A.D. 28.
The schools of fish have gathered for an emergency all school assembly at Rock Pile Point. There is great unrest in the school. The fish of Galilee are extra fidgety this year. There are strange rumors float. You see, every year around this time, all the various schools of fish go through a rigorous series of training exercises where the older wiser fish teach the younger, more foolish fish how to avoid getting caught in the nets of eager anglers out for the first time of the new fishing season. They are taught how to tell real worms from clever rubber decoys. Their fish eyes are trained to spot and avoid every kind of net, hook and fishing line. First aid training is mandatory for every fish in the school for helping victims who are caught but luckily released again with a sore mouth. But something strange happened this year on fishing opener. There’s something…well….very fishy going on. The President of the school swims to the podium and addresses the mass of floundering fishtails.
Dear citizens of Rock Pile Point, As you all know, the strange happenings of yesterday’s fishing opener took us all by surprise. We took all the regular precautions to be ready for the regular rush of angry anglers and those nasty net throwers. Yet, to our amazement we suffered no harm, we had not one catch and release victim and zero fatalities to report.
This remarkable news was met with a loud, joyous display of fin flapping applause! When the fin flapping died down, he continued:
More curious — even disturbing — is the remarkable report from our trained spotters that hardly any boat bottoms were spotted on the entire lake all day!
This fact brought the crowd to a state of disbelief entirely. No caught fish for a day, however improbable, could still be explained away by good luck, extra caution on the part of the fish, or distracted, poor fishing performances by the fisherman. But what could possibly account for the absence of boats on the water for the fishing opener?!?! The president was resolute and confident as he finished his address:
We have our investigative school of trout trying to get to the bottom of this strange situation. We have no clear explanation at the moment. We hope to have more information by the end of the day. It is highly likely that the humans have merely moved the date of the fishing opener ahead to merely delay our misery. So keep your eyes open (haha) and let’s prepare for the onslaught of regular attacks to begin at any time. Finally, if any fish has any information that might lead our investigative school of trout to some explanation, we ask them to come forward immediately. Any fish found harboring information will be sent directly to Gorton’s Food Processing Factory and made into frozen fish sticks!
And with that scale shaking warning, all the fish began to swim away back to their homes in a thousand hushed conversations full of wild speculation and fishy conspiracy theories. But before they had swam too far, there was a flurry of activity near the podium where one fish had already come forward with some information — a possible lead in the investigation. The president called the school back into session.
Sammie the Sardine has just shared a very interesting story that may begin to explain what, or more accurately, who might behind this mystery. We’ll now invite Sammie forward to share his story with you all. Sammie?
Sammie comes from that very prevalent family of sardines native to the Sea of Galilee. They are a small, busy, talkative fish — just the kind of fish who might pass along some fascinating gossip of this kind. Sammie swam forward and began spilling what he had witnessed.
Fellow fish of Rock Pile Point, I am just the witness and messenger of what I’m about to share. I didn’t make this up but heard it straight from the fish’s mouth. You will need to choose for yourselves whether you believe it is true or not. Three days ago, my friends and I were being chased by a school of hungry Biny fish through the harbor.
(The Biny fish, a native species of the Sea of Galilee easily identified by the “barbels” or whisker type flesh that hangs from around the mouth, are predatory fish eating everything from snail and mollusks to sardines.)
Just when they had almost caught up to us, they were suddenly sidetracked by a quick flash of light near the surface. Their leader, a big fat fish called Bart, was transfixed by some shiny object near the surface suddenly looked more appetizing than a mouthful of sardines. They all followed their leader toward the light when Bart was suddenly snatched up by a fisherman’s hand. For a moment, his friends froze in stunned silence, afraid of their leader’s fate. After about a minute, Bart came splashing back into the water to everyone’s relief. His big eyes looked twice their normal big-eye size, and he struggled to speak as his scales shook uncontrollably. When he finally composed himself, Bart began to tell his frightened friends what he had just experienced: “I..I…I…don’t know what came over me! We were chasing sardines one moment and the next I was suddenly being pulled upward to the surface by some force beyond myself. Like an insect drawn to a porch lantern, I was pulled irresistibly toward some shiny dangling bait. I broke the surface with a jump and snatched at what I thought was a snail shell. But before I landed back in the water, I was gripped by the strong hand of a man they called Peter. He had a quizzical look in his eyes as he opened my mouth to see what was inside. We were both stunned to find, not a snail as I had thought, but a smooth, shiny Roman coin. The man laughed hysterically at the discovery and grabbed the coin from my mouth. But before he threw me back, I heard Peter say with reverence to another man with him, “Jesus, who are you? Not only do the winds and the waves obey you, even the fish are under your control!”
As Sammie the Sardine retold this strange story of Bart the Biny fish, the crowd was split down the middle. Some blew it all off as just another far fetched fish tale. One protested, “Who’s ever heard of a man capable of controlling the winds and the waves, and casting a spell on a fish to swallow a Roman coin?” “Only a fish with the brains of a mollusk would believe such nonsense!” another blurted. Others thought this man named Jesus might also be responsible for the fishing opener mystery. One of the old wise sages of the school swam up and said:
Dear Brethren, Let us not be too quick to dismiss this as an old fish tale. Perhaps Sammie is not just blowing bubbles. Look! If there is a man up there capable of stilling a storm, hushing the wind and making a Biny fish do his bidding, then what’s stopping him from influencing the behavior of a bunch of fisherman?
There was logic in the sage’s argument. Something extraordinary must have taken place to explain why masses of eager fisherman would forego their annual celebration of fishing opener. The investigative team knew what they had to do next: find out more about this Jesus! The difficulty was, of course, that the fish were under water and Jesus was on land. Two worlds sharply separated. They needed to find some ears above water who could eaves drop on the fisherman and see what they knew of this Jesus. Billy Big Mouth immediately spoke up:
The obvious choice for such a task is a Dove. For we know from our history books that ever since the Great Flood, doves have been the go between the world of water and the life on land. And I know just the dove for the task. Her name is Deborah and she lives in the fishing village and is likely to know something. I’ll call on her the first opportunity.
But before Billy had even finished saying this, who comes flying over the water casting a shadow over Rock Pile Point? It was Deborah the Dove herself. She was chirping and squawking excitedly, as Billy Big Mouth swam over to hear her news. Upon hearing it, he immediately told the entire school to swim up to the surface to hear Deborah’s report firsthand. She said,
One day I was pecking at olives in the grove near the Sea when Jesus came walking along. He saw two fisherman, Simon and his brother Andrew, throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Then Jesus shouted over to them the strangest invitation: COME, FOLLOW ME, and INSTEAD OF CATCHING FISH FOR A LIVING, I WILL SHOW YOU HOW TO FISH FOR PEOPLE! And I watched the fisherman leave their nets at once to follow him. A little farther up the shore Jesus saw the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets. He offered them the same invitation, and they also followed him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men.
At this everyone wondered: Who is this Jesus? Why are fisherman so quick to join his cause? What does this all mean? The community of fish suddenly began to put the pieces together, each talking to the fish next to them. The leader of the investigative team swam forward and said what everyone else was already thinking:
The Fishing Opener Mystery is solved! Apparently, this Jesus has managed to rally the entire fisherman community around his cause, and these men are more focused on winning men to his cause than filling their nets with fish!
And there was joyous celebration! Fins flapped wildly. Little ones swam flips and circles. And there were repeated shouts of praise for the savior called Jesus. “Hurray for Jesus!” “He has set us free from our enemies!” “Jesus saves the fish!”