A fisherman’s life is a grind. Every night on the water is long and monotonous at best. Stormy seas and empty nets make them much worse. Waking each day to face the crowds can also be draining in its own way. When Jesus casts his net wide, the number of the needy that these disciples encounter is overwhelming. But Jesus has a rhythm to his life that balances his work of healing, feeding, and teaching with acts of withdrawing to deserted places. He teaches the disciples to practice this rhythm, too. I imagine them hiking to beautiful places, passing grilled fish around the campfire, and praying with the psalmist, Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days (v. 14). Maybe these men, well acquainted with working their night shift on empty bellies, were already familiar with this prayer. But after encountering the faces of insatiable hunger that they meet wherever they travel with Jesus, this prayer has new meaning.
Jesus knows that if his disciples are not satisfied with the love of the Lord every morning, they will never believe there’s enough of Christ’s time, compassion, or bread to go around. They will resent the crowds and snap at Jesus when they are overwhelmed. Without remembering that their lives rely on God’s sustaining love, Jesus knows the disciples will be tossed about from the hubris and despair that ministry’s ups and downs will bring. They will be tempted to believe that their successes or failures result from the work of our hands alone (v. 17). Maybe that’s why Jesus chose a fisherman, one who already knows what relying on God means. For no matter where they steer the boats, or how often they pull in the nets, they cannot fill them with fish by themselves. The same is true for us.
How does Jesus’ steadfast love meet your deepest needs today?
God, satisfy us with your steadfast love. Prosper the work of our hands and help us remember that you work with us. Amen.