Is there a pass time or a passion that your friends are into that just baffles you? You think, ‘how can anyone spend time doing this?’ I’d rather watch a tap drip than doing that?
My Father in-law used to say, ‘you couldn’t pay me a million dollars to follow a little while ball around a field of grass’, to which would say, ‘I’m pretty sure I’d accept a million dollars to do that’. He was speaking about golf of course. (some people think it’s the most ridiculous thing in the world)
Fishing might be that thing for me. Some of my friends absolutely love it. I don’t see what’s so awesome about it. I have a friend who uses his kayak to fish; I mean, who would ruin a good paddle by bringing a fishing rod along?
I have very limited experience in it. Never on a boat – only on a shore. I’ve never once thought,“I would love to go fishing this weekend”. To be fair, it’s not something my dad ever introduced to me or anyone in my family was into.
You ever talk to people who love fishing? They are serious. There are those who do it for a hobby, and then those who do it for a living. We’d call them the real Fishermen or Fisherwomen.
Well, if you’re wondering why we’ve started with this little rant, it’s because it’s to these kinds of people that Jesus extended an invitation (one of his initial invitations) to follow him.
Jesus’ first disciples were fishermen. They either loved fishing or knew no better way to make a living.
(FYI: Fish Stories is a mini series we’ll sporadically come back to from time to time. This post is about one such fish story in the Gospel)
Today’s story lets us in on Jesus’ attraction of first century crowds, Peter’s acknowledgment that Jesus is Lord, and our response to Jesus’ invitation – to fish? No, to do what he asks and what he calls us to.
Let’s Jump in…into Luke 5:1-11
Just before this story, in Luke 4, we read about Jesus’ being tested in the wilderness, we get a glimpse into Jesus personal mission statement (proclaim good news, set oppressed people free, give sight to the blind), and other acts of healing and deliverance.
When we reach Luke 5, we find Jesus teaching, with a crowd gathering. So much of a crowd that he had to find a creative way to have this crowd actually hear what he is saying.
1 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
Luke makes an important point in these opening verses: When Jesus opens his mouth, he is speaking the words of God. Very intentional here by Luke – he wants us to know that Jesus’ words are God’s words.
Why did the crowds form? Why were people so intrigued? What was all the fuss about this guy Jesus? It was this: His words were God’s words, his teaching was God’s word, to them, to us, to anyone who hears them.
This is all we know about what Jesus taught that day, no details, just this phrase, “The people were listening to the word of God”.
At a certain point, Jesus asks Simon to push his boat out to shore. This is not ideal for Simon, who just finished his shift. Who wants to drag out their tools when they’re done work? Not too many people. Especially those who’s work is hard and labour intensive.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
The potential irritation to ‘keep working’ continues here…
- Nets are cleaned, boats are docked, the night shift wasn’t successful…
- Jesus still asks Simon to put the nets in again
- How would you feel?
This is Simon’s response, “Because you say so…I will.”
Was this a reluctant yes? Was it a willing yes? Was it a, ‘sure, but do you think you know how to fish better than I do,’ yes? Note that more fish were caught at night in this sea. The day time wasn’t a good time to catch anything. Again, adding to the potential questions from Simon and the others.
But this says so much about how we listen to and obey Jesus. Listening is part one. Doing is part two. Sometimes you might even question in your mind and heart, which is very normal, but, can we get to a point where we say ‘If you say so…I’ll do it?’
What does that response look like for you right now?
When was the last time you responded to Jesus this way?
Might you be in a conversation like this with God right now?
6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
What happened in this next section of the story is that their uncertainty turned to into astonishment. Their ‘sure we’ll do this’ turned into ‘oh my…wow…AMAZING.’
Not to get lost in this story is that Jesus helped these fishermen at work. Which begs a few questions…
- Do you regularly allow God to help you at work?
- Are you open to Jesus’ informing your work related decisions and tasks?
- Do you even consider that this is possible?
Peter’s response is key to this story: it’s one of awe, worship, humility, brokenness, awareness of sin.
Peter didn’t say, ‘C’mon Jesus, now you’re just showing off’ He says, You’re God, I’m not & I’m in!
Miracles aren’t about Jesus’ showing off – Miracles help us see God for who he is, and see ourselves for who we are.
This brings us to the end of this story…
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
We see this line 9 times in the gospels from Jesus. Don’t be Afraid. About what? Afraid about what just happened? Afraid about what is going to happen? Both?
Jesus knows that what he’s calling them to is risky and scary and different…but it’s also worth it. He doesn’t want fear to hold them back. He never wants fear to hold us back.
Think about how crazy this is: after their best day on the job, Jesus’ asks them to do something else. I mean, at least he asks them to fish for something else. But after the most successful and profitable day on the job, he turns to them and says, ‘It’s time to quit.’ That’s crazy right?
“From now on you will fish for people”
I’d be like, Are you sure Jesus? We had a good day. We can made bank with you on our team. Hey guys, can we all vote to invite Jesus as our new business partner? What percentage do you think he’s worth? 10, 20? 50%? It would turn into an episode of Shark tank.
Their response is wild and crazy and yet, still appropriate.
They pulled up their boats on shore, left everything and followed him. WOW!
In essence they say, I’ll keep fishing…but it’ll be for things that matter.
– – – – –
Disclaimer: Not everyone has to leave their job. Some do (many examples of that, my Dad being one of them). But most don’t.
At the very least, what will change is your purpose. See things for more than they are. Invite Jesus to help you at work, but know that it’s also not all about what you do or accomplish, and more about the people you impact, the neighbour you love, the co-worker you listen to, the child you teach, the boss you pray for.
Getting a HUGE catch at work is great. Landing a HUGE sale at work is great. Making lots of profit at work is good. BUT…seeing God work in someone’s life, seeing Jesus’ ways get planted into someone’s life and then seeing that life make a difference because of it, that’s HUGE. That’s the HUGE catch Jesus is calling us to.
So…as we wrap things up…
What is your YES to Jesus about?
What does your “If you say so, I’ll do it” story look like?
Who is Jesus drawing your attention to…or putting a burden on your heart for…basically, who does Jesus want you to lure into the Kingdom of God?
And what are you afraid of?
Is saying YES scary? Yup. Is it worth it? Yup.
When Jesus extends an invitation to normal people like us, let’s try and get ourselves to this response, “Because you say so…I will”.