18 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 20 And they left their nets at once and followed him.
What a great story of transformation. It is also a great story of relevancy. This phrase that Jesus says “fish for people. . .” Some translations say Jesus said he would make them “fishers of men”. What I love about this phrase is that it shows that Jesus understood how to meet people where they were.
Have you ever gone to a Shakespearean play? I have sat through many that were put on by my kids' high school drama department. They were amazing. They were long! But the hardest part was when they were not changing the language to make it more relevant. Shakespearean English is not the easiest to follow. It would take me a long time to figure out what was really going on and being said. I could get there, but it would usually take the first half of the play to really begin to comprehend it. I know for a fact that I missed out on a lot of the nuances that were happening.
Jesus did not want his disciples to miss anything that he was saying. In order for this to happen, he used the vernacular language of the time, and more specifically, he used language that they could understand. This use of relevant language and idioms created a sense of belonging for them, and they were excited to be able to follow someone that they can understand.
While I was working at another church, back a lifetime ago, there was one pastor that I thought had more to say than any of us! He wasn’t the lead pastor, he was very academic; but he really understood the scriptures and I was always amazed at the insights and God given knowledge that he was able to take from each text. There was only one problem; He had a hard time relating this information to the people in a way that they could access and understand. While they all appreciated what it was that he had to offer, I could sense that they sometimes struggled to understand every nuance that he was teasing out of the text. I always thought that this was a tragedy, because he, more than anyone else, was probably the most knowledgeable about the scriptures that we were all supposed to be preaching on.
What translation or paraphrase do you like to read? Some have more modern language, and some seem more formal and use more antiquated language. I am not sure one is better than the other, but they make a difference as to how we hear the gospel. I love the message bible, but I also know that it is not a direct translation. Once I understood this, I was able to take the language in the spirit it was given, rather than knowing it is a word for word translation.
How can you hear the gospel more clearly and with language you can understand? Jesus wanted his followers to really understand and comprehend the message he was trying to give them, so he was willing to be relevant in all that he did. This is also probably why he was so good at healing before he spoke, but we can talk about that at another time.
- How do you hear the gospel so it makes the most sense to you?
- What is the biggest clarity you have ever had when it comes to understanding the gospel?
- What makes the gospel relevant to you?
- What is your favorite translation of scripture and why?
Personally, I like the New Living translation and also the Tree of Life version. The latter has some original Hebrew words which is fun to look up and learn the meanings.. The NLT is great when reading in Groups so as to keep the language and context as easy to follow as possible.
I really like to think that Jesus did use language to speak to anyone and everyone. It makes it easy to extrapolate and say Jesus today would use the NLT if he were alive today rather than the KJV.