This is the smaller of two pieces I bought in Bethlehem at the Nissan Brothers’ Bethlehem New Store in 2015. This is hand-carved olive wood. (The Nissan Brothers are Palestinian Christians who also have a kiosk in the Katy Mills Mall.)
In the Bethlehem store, and I assume also at the kiosk, you can choose pieces with more or less detail of carving. This, of course, depends upon the skill of the carver. Those who can carve with more detail get a higher price for their products. Likewise, larger carving cost more than smaller carvings. This is a smaller carving with a medium amount of detail.
Carving wood takes a lot of skill, patience, and flexibility. The ability to pick a good piece of wood is a primary skill. Not all wood and not all pieces are suitable for carving. Once you have picked a piece of wood and begun carving you need the flexibility to change what you are carving depending on what you find inside the wood. Patience plays a major role in the amount of detail the artist is trying to achieve.
My interpretation of this piece is that this is Jesus, on the right, sitting in the back of the boat watching two brothers, either Peter and Andrew or James and John, haul in a net. The passage from Luke 5, that you just read, comes closest to describing this scene, though only Jesus and Peter are mentioned by name.
So then, if this carving illustrates what is going on in Luke 5:1-11, then this is Peter and Andrew hauling in such a large catch of fish that their nets are beginning to tear. They are going to signal their partners, James and John, to come help get the fish into their boats. It turns out that the fish fill up both boats to the point of almost sinking them.
Or . . . this is Jesus watching you and I fish for people.
We are supposed to be doing that, right? fishing for people? spreading the good news of Jesus Christ? Have you ever thought of yourself as being in the same boat as Jesus? Guess what, we're in that boat, with Jesus, not because of anything we have done or accomplished ... but simply because Jesus has promised to be with us always.
So this a good image for us to keep – you and I working while Jesus watches over us. Jesus is not the kind of guy who would sit there and tell us everything we are doing wrong. He is not a knit-picker. Jesus is right there if we need help, or advice, or an encouraging smile. He has living water for when we get thirsty, and the bread of life when we are hungry. And when the storms of life come along ... and the wind and waves go wild, “sometimes he calms the storm and other times he calms his child.”
Be calm, the Lord is with us! Brother Mike