Who Cleaned The Fish?
Forty-Three days passed from the crucifixion to the ascension; 43 days of what? Constant communion with His enraptured disciples? No, He often was not with them during that time. They were left alone to ponder all that they had seen and heard during the last three years. Perhaps needing money, the disciples went fishing all night… in vain. Tired and sore they headed home at daybreak. About 100 yards from shore the aroma of frying fish filled their nostrils. The resurrected Jesus called them to breakfast with Him. (John 21:1-14)
It is easy to picture Jesus feeding the 5000, or standing on the bow of a ship preaching to the multitude, or performing miracles before the astonished masses. But, who gathered the wood for this breakfast fire? Who cut the kindling, put the flint to the steel and blew the spark into a fire fit for use? And the fish, the stinking, slimy fish, who scraped the scales from them, gutted them, washed and filleted them? A lowly, stinking, unglamorous job. WHO CLEANED THE FISH?
It’s easy to fill glamorous jobs: Judas was eager to be treasurer; Disciples argued about who would be greater in the kingdom; James & John wanted to be highest. Everybody wants to be a general, nobody wants to be a private. We can dream of being a missionary, or an evangelist, or a pastor, but are we willing to cut the grass; or move tables & chairs; or make some telephone calls?
Teachers want the glamour of a big class, but are they willing to make the calls that it takes? The office of Deacon seems glamorous, but do you know that the word “deacon” is the Greek word for “servant”? Jesus said, “Whosoever would be chief among you, let him be your servant.” (Matt. 20:27) The path to the top leads downward.
Glamour is its own reward (Matt. 6:2). Of the hypocrites who loved the glamour of piety, Jesus said “They have their reward. People who work for earthly reward will have only that. The measure of greatness is what you do when no-one else is watching. There is no glory in menial tasks. No glamour in behind-the-scenes labors. Nobody will engrave your name in a cornerstone for cutting the grass or sweeping the sidewalk, but God doesn’t enter glory and glamour in his ledgers, but blood, sweat and tears. What are you working for?
Future service is based on past performance (Luke 19:17). In the parable of the talents, he who had invested and earned more was given more. You can never lead others until you are willing to be led. A teacher cannot teach unless he is willing to be taught himself. You can minister for the King of kings, until you get your own life straight. You cannot preach to the masses until you can first witness to the one.
So, what kind of people is God looking for? Let’s check his record: He used Moses, not as king of Egypt, but a fugitive. He used Nehemiah, not as a cup-bearer to the king, but as a bricklayer. Luke, not as a wealthy doctor, but as a self-denying follower of the Lord. Paul, not as a powerful politician of Rome, but as its prisoner. Jesus, not as an earthly king, but as a broken, despised, dying Redeemer of man.
God isn’t looking for Superstars, but servants. He doesn’t have to have contractors, carpenters will do. He doesn’t need experts, apprentices will do. He doesn’t need a master chef to cook a gourmet seafood, He just needs someone to clean the fish.