Sunday, September 23, 2007

153 Revisited

My September 8 post was about TUFW's "Kingdom Dream's" chapel and how I shared with the campus community our outrageous goal of enrolling 153 new freshmen next fall. Afterwards, there was a comment posted on the blog from someone in Qatar. Who it was, I have no idea. How he found my blog is a mystery. Shoot, I'm not even sure where Qatar is! Anyway, his remark caught me totally off-guard, though. In case you missed it, here it is again:

"When I read your comment, I immediately thought of John 21.11 about the 153 fish that were caught. Is this where the number came from?"

Naturally, my response was "no" but I had to check out this passage immediately. Again, in case you didn't notice it before, here is John 21:3-11:

Simon Peter said, "I'm going fishing."

"We'll come, too," they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.

At dawn the disciples saw Jesus standing on the beach, but they couldn't see who he was. He called out, "Friends, have you caught any fish?"

"No," they replied.

Then he said, "Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you'll get plenty of fish!" So they did, and they couldn't draw in the net because there were so many fish in it.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and swam ashore.

The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only out about three hundred feet.

When they got there, they saw that a charcoal fire was burning and fish were frying over it, and there was bread.

"Bring some of the fish you've just caught," Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn't torn.

That in itself was pretty cool to see and consider. While I would never want to read too much into this coincidence of 153, it really did make me sit up and take notice. In turn, the note from Terry in Qatar prompted my dad, Richard Muntz, to send me this excerpt from notes written by Henry M. Morris in the New Defender's Study Bible:

"The reason why the disciples were careful and John to record the number of fishes brought to shore must again involve symbolism as there seems no other reason for it. It has been calculated that there were 153 distinct nations in the world at the time of Christ (the number is not much different at present); these were represented at Pentecost by 17 ethnic groups (see Acts 2:8-11), when the disciples first began to carry out the Commission, preaching to the world in miniature, as it were. The number 17 is also symbolic; when all the numbers are added up through 17 (that is, 1+2+3+...+16,+17), they add to 153. ... There seems no other number that could possibly be more appropriate to represent all the peoples of the world than this number, and it is surely more than coincidence (in fact, providential) that the Creator saw to it that exactly 153 great fishes entered the 'gospel net.'"

Dad then asked if this means our 153 new freshmen all need to come from different countries. Yeah, right. There are ridiculous, audacious goals and then there's just plain silly.

The third chapter, for now, in this saga of 153 was an e-mail I received last week from three colleagues at Taylor University Fort Wayne. It was evident that they had been considering this crazy idea of 153 freshmen. They said they had an idea for me and sent along a YouTube video they had created to pitch the idea to me. Now, you have to understand that sometimes the worst words an admission director can hear from a faculty member are "Hey, I know how you can get all the students we need." That type of statement is often followed by "Have you thought about visiting high schools to talk to prospective students?" or "If you just give everyone from Texas a $10,000 scholarship, enrollment will soar" or "Why don't you advertise on MTV?"

This time, though, I was intrigued. I won't tell you anything about their brainstorm yet . . . it's a little "out there," but their point rightly is that if we want to get some different results, we need to try some extremely innovative methods of getting the word out. We're going to meet tomorrow to talk about their ideas. If nothing else, it was encouraging and exciting to realize that others on campus were thinking about the challenge we face and how we can rise to meet it. I'll keep you posted!

1 comment:

Dusty Penguin said...

Wow, pretty cool! It had totally slipped my notice that the number of fish were recorded in that passage, and to think that the Lord gave you that number in your mind. He's an amazing God and His thoughts are higher than our thought, His ways than our ways!