INNER CIRCLE: The Parable of the Wise Fisherman

INNER CIRCLE: The Parable of the Wise Fisherman June 8, 2022


Image: Pexels

Saying 8: “And he [Jesus] said, “The man is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea filled with small fish. Among them, the wise fisherman found a fine, large fish. So, he threw all the small fish back into the sea and chose the large fish without difficulty. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.”

As with many of the other Parables of Jesus – both here in Thomas’s Gospel and in the other Gospels of the New Testament – the “wisdom” of the saying is hidden in the foolishness of what transpires in the story. 

No one would refer to the fisherman in this parable as “wise” because his actions would have been seen as entirely foolish to absolutely everyone. Because the wise fisherman is the one who keeps the huge catch of fish that fills his net and throws away the larger, unclean fish that are worthless and inedible.

One has to wonder why Jesus would tell a story about a foolish man who clearly had no idea what fishing was all about and describe the fisherman as “wise.” And that, of course, is the entire point. Jesus wants them to scratch their heads. He wants them to think carefully about the story. He wants to intrigue them and entice them to dig deeper into the parable to understand why such foolishness is wisdom, and why such wisdom appears foolish.

This is the very same reverse logic that is at play in the Parable of the Good Shepherd where Jesus tells the story of how a Shepherd left 99 of his sheep unprotected in the field in favor of searching for the one sheep that went astray. [Luke 15:3-7]

The audacity of the actions in both of these stories is intended precisely to challenge conventional wisdom and provoke listeners to reevaluate and rethink [Metanoia] everything they thought they knew about the Kingdom of God.

So, of course, no “Good Shepherd” abandons his entire flock to secure the safety of one stray animal, and no “Wise Fisherman” throws away an entire net’s worth of numerous fish to save one large fish that – to most Jewish fisherman at least – would be utterly worthless. 

Larger fish in the region of Palestine at this time would have been considered unclean to those of the Hebrew faith. Therefore, most of those who would have heard Jesus say these words would have been very confused by this saying.

Yet, hidden in the controversial and nonsensical parable is a profound truth to be uncovered. 

Jesus says the “Wise Fisherman” is looking for the One Truth. He is not distracted by the illusion of separation in the many fish. To this wise man, there are not “many fish.” There is only “one large fish” and this realization is worth more than the illusion. 

To those who do not have eyes to see, this fisherman is not wise. They only see value in the “many” individual fish. They cannot imagine ever rejecting this concept. To them, choosing the one over the many is insanity. Yet, Jesus tells them this parable specifically to challenge their assumptions and to suggest a rejection of the many in favor of the one. 

As with our previous saying, Jesus uses “the man” here in reference to the True Self which is not consumed by the Lion of Ego. The True Self [the man] is the one who has the wisdom to reject the worthless notion of individual separation in favor of the reality of Oneness. 

The choice for us, then, is the same. Jesus urges us to choose the one over the many and to embrace the One Truth of the Gospel over the illusion of separateness. 


Image: Quoir Publishing

The opposite of faith is not doubt, it’s certainty.

We cannot talk about God with any degree of certainty, because God is, by definition, a Being who transcends imagination, expectation and comprehension. What we know is this: there is more of God to know than any of us will ever fully know in this life.

So, let’s begin by embracing the mystery of Christ to discover the endlessly unfolding beauty of uncertainty.

This is the Sola Mysterium, the new book by author Keith Giles arriving June 28th on Amazon from Quoir Publishing.



Keith Giles is the author of the 7-part best-selling “Jesus Un” book series from Quoir Publishing. Keith is also the host of Second Cup with Keith [a new solo podcast available now on the Ethos Radio App, for Apple and Android and on Spotify; and the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast [along with co-hosts Matthew Distefano, Dr. Katy Valentine, and Derrick Day], and the new Apostate’s Anonymous podcast with Matthew Distefano.

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