The Journey: Deep Water 1-13-2020

By Dean Foster

January 13, 2020

The Journey: Deep Water

"5Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything
but because you say so, I will let down the nets."  Luke 5:5

            Luke's description of how Jesus called the first disciples has always struck me as simple and "down to earth."  Chapter five in Luke's gospel is where we see Jesus skillfully changing men's lives in a way that builds them up, gives them hope and reason to follow Him.  Within that they find their call to spread the Good News about Him. 

            It's easy to picture Simon and his fellow fishermen after they've pulled the boat in and sit cleaning the nets so they can go home.  They've been working all night throwing wet, weighted fishing nets into the Sea of Galilee only to pull them up empty again and again.  The men are tired, hungry, smelling worse than the nets they now have to clean up before they can call it a good for nothing night and get home. 

            Then this carpenter or Rabbi that Simon told them about comes over.  He's the one who came to the house when Simon's mother-in-law suffered with a high fever.  He came over and somehow rebuked the fever instantly.  Word is he heals people that are worse off than that all the time.  People also say he has a new message.  One unlike the teaching of their religious leaders.  The message this young Rabbi now wants to teach using Simon's boat as a platform.

            Notice that Jesus first gets in the boat belonging to Simon.  He gets in the boat before he asks Simon to put out a little from shore.  Note that because this is when Simon's "journey" with Jesus begins.  The Son of God chooses us first.  He chooses us when something small or big comes up.  Then Jesus waits for our response.

            Jesus is already in the boat and the Holy Spirit is already within Simon when Jesus might have said something like, "Would you put out a little from shore so I can teach from your boat?"

            The Christ didn't say, "Let me use your boat and your life will never be the same."  That's not how God's hand and His plans come to us.

            Jesus doesn't say, "Let me get in your life and you won't believe what you are going to see and do."

            Jesus said things like, "…put out a little from shore."  Today, through the Holy Spirit He might say, "Come downtown we're going to hand out new pairs of gloves and dry socks to homeless people."  Or, "Let's find a place to help serve soup and bread to the homeless."

             If you think about it, chances are when you first said yes to Christ it was some story like that.  Somewhere, somehow, Jesus interrupted your plans.  The Holy Spirit within us doesn't often say, "Life will never be the same."  The Spirit is much more subtle.  Someone made a suggestion.  "You might enjoy helping out on a youth group mission trip."  Or someone said, "The church could sure use someone like you…"  Perhaps it was just a feeling you had, something called you to find a place to worship.  Something simple like that and you responded. 

             Simon puts the boat out a little from land. The picture of that scene as Jesus taught from the boat has always been so clear for me.  The fishing boats they had back then on that huge lake were twenty feet long, eight feet wide with sides four foot high.  Jesus could stand in the middle to teach as if standing on a flat floor.  I picture Simon and the other fishermen off to the side just listening…hanging on every word he might say.

            Then Jesus finishes teaching and says to Simon:

            “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

            Now Simon is tired, hungry, sweaty dirty and all that. He is also a seasoned professional fisherman, has been most of his life.  He knows how, when and where to fish the Galilean Sea.  Then along comes this carpenter/preacher whoever he is and wants to give him advice on how to fish?  Simon didn't think any of that though.  The Holy Spirit was already well settled within Simon when he answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything.  But because you say so, I will let down the nets." 

            There it is Brothers and Sisters.  That's why Jesus got in Simon's boat that morning.  The Lord knew all about Simon but wanted to see what his faith was going to look like.  Jesus wanted to see Simon's faith in action the way He wants to see all of our faith in action.  Do we have what it takes to answer God the way Simon did?  Are any of us ready for the challenge, the privilege, and the adventure it was and still is to answer His call that way.  "Yes Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything, but because you say so, I will let down the nets."

            And then what does that mean for each of us today?  What does "put out into deep water and let down the nets" mean for you?  For me?  Is it to finally, once and for all, truly forgive someone?  Or is it to let something go?  Is putting out into deep water getting over the fear of using and sharing some gift of the Spirit you've not been sure of for some reason?  Make the effort to use your gifts whatever they are.  These are the things that Jesus sends us out into the deep waters to do.  He sends us out to overcome our fears and the Spirit goes with us.

            We know the story.  When the fishermen do as Jesus says they fill the boat with fish and call their partners with another boat to help them.  Simon sees the second boat is also being filled with this amazing catch of fish. At that he knows who Jesus is. Luke uses the name Simon Peter then to tell that he fell at Jesus' knees saying, "Go away from me Lord: I am a sinful man!"  The text doesn't say Simon Peter got down before Jesus!  It says Simon Peter "fell" at Jesus' knees.  When our eyes are opened to who Jesus is, they are at once opened to who we are as well.  Which is what happened here.  Simon Peter made the call that he wasn't worthy to be in the presence of Jesus, Lord of all.

            Then we see what the Son of God himself does and says to all of us.  Jesus tells Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will fish for people."

            Finally, verse eleven boils it all down for us.  The small steps, the big steps, the not sure if I can do it, the not sure if I am worthy questions God answers when He chooses you. 


            "11So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him."

Luke 5:11    


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