Each month we explore some of the great traditional icons of the Eastern Church with the intent of experiencing how the Icons serve as “windows in heaven” and thus teach us lessons of faith. In one Gospel passage this month, Saint Luke gives an account of Jesus teaching a great many people while the Apostles were fishing throughout the night.
Jesus “taught the people from the boat. And when Jesus finished speaking, He said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’” As Christ’s words tell his closest disciples to “go out into the deep!” Many icons of this account attempt to bring us deeper into the Words of Jesus.
Although there are different icons depicting this Gospel, there are some core symbols that must be observed:
The Boat – Peter’s boat represents the Church, the “Ark of Salvation.” Christ’s presence in the boat represents his constant presence with the Church in this world, always, even as we go about his command to cast our nets and “fish for men.”
The Net – The net is the Gospel: like the fisherman’s net, which is commonplace thing, the Gospel is composed of humble, everyday words which reach down and draw in all people. This is an image found in the Prophets: “Behold, I will send many fishermen, says the Lord, and they shall fish for them; and d I will send many hunters, and they shall hunt for them” (Jeremiah 16:16).
The Crowd – The Gospel tells us “on one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he taught the people from the boat.” makes clear the connection between those longing to hear and receive God’s Word and the fish caught in the nets during this “second attempt” to draw in a catch.
Lesson – It is important to note that this Gospel is set at night-time, in the dark, and the attempt of Peter and his companions to gain some reward in the dark, on their own – when it is very hard to see and work – yields nothing. Saint John, tells us that Jesus said, “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
Explore additional Icons and greater details in the Icon Display found in the church Gathering Space.