Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thoughts on Luke 5:1-11 (Fishers of Men)

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 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.

I admit, my knowledge of geography is not what it should be.  I have no idea where the Lake of Gennesaret is located.  It turns out that this lake is the same as the Sea of Galilee.  It is the largest freshwater lake in all of Israel.  It is located in the northeast part of Israel and is shaped like a harp.  

The Bible says that the people were crowding Jesus.  This is not hard to imagine.  Think of the most charismatic speaker or performer.  I'll pick the Beatles because everyone loves the Beatles.  At the peak of their popularity, they could not go anywhere without being mobbed.  People wanted to hear everything they had to say.  They wanted to hear ever word they sang.  If not for security, fans would be all over these guys.  Touching them to say that they touched one of the Beatles.  The fans not closest would try to get as close as they possibly could.  If one of the guys was to start talking, the ones in the back would not be able to hear.  The ones closest might be trying to get their attention for an autograph.

Jesus is in the same boat (no pun intended, I promise).  People want to hear every word he has to say.  Those closest to him may have wanted to touch him to receive healing.  Others might want to try and get closer to hear more from him.  As a former Sunday school teacher, I know I got frustrated when I would try to teach the students but something else was going on that was a major distraction.  It is no surprise to me that Jesus goes on a boat a little ways from the shore. Now no one can get close to Jesus until he is ready for that.  They can all listen to him and hear him because they will have to settle down to hear him.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” 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.”  When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled 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.  When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”  For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.  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.

Wow.  I'm just amazed by so many things here.  Jesus told Simon to do something and he did it.  Too often, we have prayer paralysis.  We feel the Spirit telling us to do something.  We resist the leading and say that we will pray about it some more.  Now, don't misunderstand me, we should pray about everything, but we should not use prayer as a stalling tactic.  How ridiculous would it have been for Simon to tell Jesus he needed to pray about it before he went into deeper waters?  Think of what he would have missed out on!  Besides the two boat-loads of fish, he might have missed out on the opportunity to follow Jesus on to bigger things!

Thankfully, Simon is obedient.  When they get back to the shore, he confesses to Jesus that he is a sinful man.  He begs the Lord to leave him because he is a sinner.  Now, notice what Jesus does here.  He does not leave Simon in his sin.  He does not turn his back on him and cast him away.  Church, take note of this.  If Jesus can redeem and use a sinner, we should be able to do the same.  When a man has repented of his sin and committed to follow Christ, stop seeing him as the old, dead, creation; instead, see in him the new creation that Christ created him to be!  Simon and the others begin to follow Jesus to learn how to fish for people.

That's a powerful metaphor.  We sinners were once drowning in the ocean of sin and darkness.  The chaos all around us threatened to drown and choke us to death.  Left on our own, we might float for a few hours, but eventually we tire and grow weary.  It is only a matter of time before we are dead.  Yet here comes Jesus fishing us out of the water.  He is teaching his disciples how to rescue the sinners from their sin.  He is our lifeline and our rescuer!  Reach out to him and receive the love he has for you.

All you need is love!

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