The Gospel Jesus Taught, Part 3

The Gospel Jesus Taught, Part 3 January 18, 2024



As we wrap up our series on the gospel Jesus taught, again, in several Hebrew scriptures, fishing for people was about hooking or catching a certain kind of person, a powerful and unjust person, and removing them from the position of power where they were wielding harm.

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(Read this series from the beginning at Part 1 and Part 2.)

Speaking of those who do harm within their positions of power, Jeremiah reads:

“But now I will send for many fishermen,” declares the LORD, “and they will catch them. After that I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them down on every mountain and hill and from the crevices of the rocks. (Jeremiah 16:16)

Speaking of those who “oppress the poor and crush the needy,” Amos reads:

The Sovereign LORD has sworn by his holiness: “The time will surely come when you will be taken away with hooks, the last of you with fishhooks.” (Amos 4:2)

Speaking of the abusive Pharaoh, king of Egypt, Ezekiel reads:

In the tenth year, in the tenth month on the twelfth day, the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt and prophesy against him and against all Egypt. Speak to him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says:

‘“I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt,

you great monster lying among your streams.

You say, “The Nile belongs to me;

I made it for myself.”

But I will put hooks in your jaws

and make the fish of your streams stick to your scales.

I will pull you out from among your streams,

with all the fish sticking to your scales.

I will leave you in the desert,

you and all the fish of your streams.

You will fall on the open field

and not be gathered or picked up.

I will give you as food

to the beasts of the earth and the birds of the sky.

Then all who live in Egypt will know that I am the LORD. (Ezekiel 29:1-6)

Ched Myers, in commentaries written on this week’s passage from Mark, writes:

“In the Hebrew Bible, the metaphor of ‘people like fish’ appears in prophetic censures of apostate Israel and of the rich and powerful: ‘I am now sending for many fishermen, says God, and they shall catch [the people of Israel]…’ (Jeremiah 16:16) ‘The time is surely coming upon you when they shall take you away with fishhooks…’ (Amos 4:2) ‘Thus says God: I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt…. I will put hooks in your jaws, and make the fish of your channels stick to your scales…’ (Ezekiel 29:3f) Jesus is, in other words, summoning working folk to join him in overturning the structures of power and privilege in the world!” (Ched Myers, Marie Dennis, Joseph Nangle, Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, Stuart Taylor; Say to This Mountain: Marks Story of Discipleship, p. 10)

“There is perhaps no expression more traditionally misunderstood than Jesus’ invitation to these workers to become ‘fishers of men.’ This metaphor, despite the grand old tradition of missionary interpretation, does not refer to the ‘saving of souls,’ as if Jesus were conferring on these men instant evangelist status. Rather the image is carefully chosen from Jeremiah 16:16, where it is used as a symbol of Yahweh’s censure of Israel. Elsewhere the ‘hooking of fish’ is a euphemism for judgment upon the rich (Amos 4:2) and powerful (Ezekiel 29:4). Taking this mandate for his own, Jesus is inviting common folk to join him in the struggle to overturn the existing order of power and privilege.” (Ched Myers, Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Marks Story of Jesus, p. 132)

Jesus was calling these fishermen to join him hope, change, and participating in God’s just future. That just future begins with our challenging the existing order of power and privilege, specifically because of the harm that the status quo causes.

Love means caring for people and what they are suffering here and now. That’s why, as Cornel West often says, justice is what love looks like in public. While it is much easier to preach a gospel that says “God loves us,” it is a much more challenging venture to teach a gospel calling on people to love each other. Perhaps that’s why Jesus’ message in the gospels is rarely about God’s love toward us per se. (It is present at times, but is rarely emphasized and doesn’t even show up in the book of Acts, which is supposed to be about the gospel turning the world upside down.) 

Instead Jesus’ gospel repeats the call for us to love one another, neighbor, and even enemy. Love is not something we are to simply bask in, assured that we the objects of Divine affection. Love is the ethic that a God of love calls us to live by in our relations to each other. A gospel that is only about God’s unconditional love for us has historically served as guilt alleviation for those in positions of power and privilege. It helps those complicit in harm to rest at night. 

It doesn’t matter how much a gospel about Jesus talks about God’s love if it doesn’t include the call for us to love one another. I’m thinking specifically about distributive justice for others being harmed. Without that call, it may be a gospel about Jesus, but it’s not the same gospel that Jesus taught in the early stories. A gospel may include God’s universal and unconditional love, but if that gospel doesn’t result in adherents also loving their neighbors, then that gospel is “a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).



Finding Jesus Second Edition!

I have some exciting news! I have just signed an agreement with a new book publisher (Quoir), and we are putting together a launch team for the second edition of Finding Jesus, coming out next month!

If you have been blessed by the first edition, and you would like to see this book have greater exposure to reach an even larger audience, I want to invite you to be a part of the launch team. This second edition will be available in paperback, Kindle and an audio book available on Audible. And great news for those who already have a copy of the first edition, the first 25 people to sign up to be part of our launch team will also receive a FREE Audible copy of the audiobook for Finding Jesus.

To join the Finding Jesus launch team, all you need to do is four things:

1) Go to Amazon and pre-order a copy of the second edition when pre-orders become available.

2) Read the pdf copy of the second edition of Finding Jesus that I will send you after your pre-order the book so that you’re ready on launch day.

3) On launch day go back to Amazon and write a review for Finding Jesus. (You’ll be able to do this on day one since you’ve already read the pdf copy.)

4) Share your review of Finding Jesus on your social media pages that day, also.

It’s pretty simple. That’s all. And if you already have copy of the first edition this is a great opportunity to get the audiobook version on Audible as soon as it is available.

If you would like to join our launch team, you can email me at and just put in the subject of your email “Launch Team.”

Thank you in advance for being part of this special second edition publishing and ensuring this edition is a success.

About Herb Montgomery
Herb Montgomery, director of Renewed Heart Ministries, is an author and adult religious re-educator helping Christians explore the intersection of their faith with love, compassion, action, and societal justice. You can read more about the author here.

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