God’s prophets used the illustration of being caught in a fisherman’s net as being caught in God’s judgment.  Ouch!  This applied to a nation and to individuals. “Thus saith the Lord God; I will therefore spread out my net over thee with a company of many people; and they shall bring thee up in my net.  Then will I leave thee upon the land, I will cast thee forth upon the open field, and will cause all the fowls of the heaven to remain upon thee, and I will fill the beasts of the whole earth with thee”  (Ezek. 32:3-4)! Not pleasant!  Imagine being beaked to death by famished, carnivorous birds.  Let’s be good!  This imagery was a vivid reality for the people of coastal cities where fishermen cleaned their catch, and tossed fish guts to hungry seagulls.  Okay!  Moving right along…



Christ’s fishermen-disciples had firsthand experience with Ezekiel 32.  Keep this in mind as you read Jesus’ words in Mat. 4:19, “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  How awesome!  Jesus is saying that we are not appointed to be the fish caught in a net of judgment nor be fed to the birds.  He is calling and equipping us with His net to catch people for His kingdom.  We are called to be the fisherman, not the fish.  Amen! “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:  Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away” (Mat 13:47-48).  By the sacrifice of Christ, we’ve escaped the coming judgment and have become members of His fishing team.

■  Tax paid with fish-mouth coin

     (Mt. 17:24-27)

■  Disciples called fishers of men

      (Mt. 4:19)

■  The great draught of 153 fish

     (Jn. 21:11)

What mental images pop in your head when you hear the word fish?  Fish, as in chips, fish of the big fish story variety, or possibly even fish as in Jesus.  Most people do not immediately associate fish with Jesus, but in the grand scheme of things, three is a connection. 


The fish-shape symbolized Christianity, and many first-century Christian frescos included fish icons.  Why?  The Greek letters Ichthys spell the word fish.  I-c-h-t-h-y-s serves as an acronym for

Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter,

which means Jesus Christ, God’s son, Savior.  The “I” stands for “Iesous,” which means Jesus.  The “X” Represents the word “Christos,” meaning Christ. “E” represents “Theou,” means of God. The letter “Y” stands for “Yios,” meaning son.  Finally, the “S” stands for Sigma, which means savior. 

Early Christian artists illustrated this profound truth with a simple fish symbol made of intersecting arched lines, easily read for over 2000 years.  Magnetized plastic, cardboard air fresheners, and bumper stickers bear this Christian symbol, and proclaim the message—Jesus Christ is God’s son, and our Savior.  These made-in-China symbols flood the market.  Some people are offended by merchandising this gospel symbol, thinking the cheesy craftsmanship cheapens the rich origins of the symbol.  Let’s check it out!

■  Early Christians were persecuted.  In order to keep their ever-changing meeting places a secret and yet identifiable to Christians, they’d scratch the fish symbol on rocks or walls near the entrance of a meeting place.  The symbol was not viewed by Greeks as particularly Christian, because a similar symbol meant a funeral was in session.  Cleaver!  The “Jesus-Fish” provided a perfectly legitimate reason for Christians to meet as they celebrated the death of Jesus… and His resurrection.  Amen!  So far, in our present day Christian walk we don’t have to hide the fact that we are believers.

■  Early Christians traveled.  When one met a stranger along the way, the Christian might casually draw one arc of the simple fish in the dirt.  If the stranger completed the fish image by drawing the other arc, they knew they were in safe community.  It’s like a secret handshake or gang symbol.  If the stranger didn’t respond by completing the fish, the single arc was easily erased with a discrete slight-of-sandal.  Now you see it – now you don’t. 

Love it!  

■  Early Christians lived under Roman Emperors who propagandized themselves as gods.  Coins discovered at Alexandria illustrate Domitian (AD 81-AD96) as the Theou Huios (Son of God).  This deification is also true of Augustus and later emperors.  Perhaps Christians adopted the already functioning fish symbol in a subversive, yet safe way to protest the mainstream worship of emperors.  Oh yeah!  Down with men who think they’re gods…mannequins too.  That’s another topic – sorry!

■  Early Christians were well acquainted with the many meanings of the fish symbol that were rooted in paganism.  Interesting!  The fish symbolized fertility, sexuality, the womb, Aphrodite, Dagon and many other mythical characters and traditions.  Early Christians were bold to reclaim the fish symbol, re-define it in Christian terms.  Was this a pagan influence on Christianity or were the Christians asserting global ownership of all things for Christ and His kingdom?  Ummmmm….



How can we update the fish image to best express the vitality of our Christian experience? 

We want to say much more about our precious Jesus, and our relationship with Him.  We want the world to know the blessings of a maturing, personal relationship that empowers us in our daily lives.

We are the most fulfilled people on earth.  Sure, our relationship includes trials and circumstances that challenge us.  However, our deep faith convinces us that all these experiences work for our good, as long as we love Him.  We’ve read the end of the Book.  We know the overcoming power of Christ’s blood, and the Holy Spirit’s comfort, guidance and empowerment in daily life.  This is our life-message:  We are becoming more than conquerors, possessing His glory, singing His praise, and being full of His love, joy and peace.   We receive His “manifold hues of grace” that perfectly match the “manifold hues of trials.”  Successful living belongs to us, comes from above and is grasped by those living under grace.  Yippee!

Let’s illustrate these uplifting aspects of our Christian walk through this project.  We will visually communicate this inspiring dimension of truth using lines, shapes, form, texture and colors.

Project parameters to be set by students.


Updating Ichthus