Fishermen tell three types of stories: 1) True stories, 2) Lies, and 3) Stories that start out true, but grow in creativity and length. The size of the fish, the bait, the boat, or the waves may increase with each telling.
The following story falls under category number one. It is 100% non-fiction. A few years ago, I stumbled onto an opportunity to fish at a pond and I was unprepared. It was a family get-together, cookout, reunion thing. They mentioned the pool to swim in, but failed to mention the pond to fish in. So there I was...bypassing the pool to contemplate the fish population of the pond.
The urge to fish was strong. But first I had to hunt. In the garage attic of our family reunion hosts, I found a rod and reel. The rod and reel had a cork and a hook. Fantastic! But I had no bait. I rummaged around for a fishing lure of any kind and found none.
The reunion hosts lived in a subdivision within a city. They had a well-manicured lawn (about as big as a phone booth) and a few tiny flower beds. Similar houses surrounded the large pond. I resisted the urge to dig up the flower beds in search of worms, but I needed some kind of bait.
A thought came to mind. I quickly hid the fishing pole and went back to where the humans were grazing around a food table filled with sandwiches, chips, and dip. It was there that I found the bait I had hoped for: bologna! Pronounced "ba-lo-ney," bologna is a refined slab of delicious round steak. It's an aquired taste. It's also a word commonly used by those who just heard a politician speak.
This was a rather fancy affair, so the sandwiches were trimmed of bread crust and cut up into tiny squares. I guess rich folk can't eat a whole sandwich. Trying not to draw attention to myself, I stuffed a few sandwich squares into my mouth and a couple into my pockets.
I chatted with a neice or two and headed back to the garage where I had stashed the rod and reel. I tried to make my way to the pier that went out over the pond unnoticed, but a couple of youngsters in the pool saw me and followed.
I tore off a piece of bologna and put it on the hook. Almost immediately, the cork started bobbing up and down. It wasn’t long before I caught a small perch. With a few more pieces of bologna, I caught a few more perch. But I'm not much of a perch guy. It was sorta fun catching them, but it didn't satisfy the fisherman in me nearly as much as a bass would.
When I started running low on bologna, an idea came to me. I caught a tiny perch that was no bigger than the palm of my hand, took the hook out of the perch’s mouth and stuck it through his (or her) back under the dorsal fin. I cast my live bait with baloney-breath out into the pond.
The perch made the cork bob up and down as it tried to swim away from the hook in it's back. Then the cork went straight down and disappeared! Whoa baby! The fight was on!
In order to keep this story on the non-fiction level, I will admit that when I reeled in the bass, he was not a wall-hanger (for the outdoor illiterate, that means he wasn't a big fish). The bass weighed a little over ten -- I mean, two pounds. But it was the way that I caught the bass that made it so much fun. Thankfully, I have witnesses.
Let's get out of the pond for a minute and into the parabolic significance of this story. Isaiah 25:8 predicts the atoning death of Christ on the cross and says, "He will swallow up death forever." Paul quotes this prophetic statement in 1st Corinthians 15:54 to reinforce the fact that Jesus saved us from the curse of eternal death.
With those Scriptures in mind, think of the Christian as the bologna, the perch as death, and the bass as Jesus. Before Jesus died on the cross, we (humans) were dangling on a hook without hope. Death feasted on us and continually swallowed us up. When Jesus died on the cross, He looked like another bologna-victim of death. But while in the grave, God removed the hook from Jesus, stuck it in death, and when Jesus rose from the dead, He swallowed death, like the bass that swallowed the perch, and ended death's pursuit of all who believe in Jesus.
To the unbeliever, it looks like death swallows life. But the believer knows it isn’t so. Death doesn’t swallow the Christian. Christ swallows death and gives the Christian eternal life!
Hooked on Jesus,