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1 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding round 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. 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." 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signalled to 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. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. (NIV) Luke’s narrative invites us to imagine a TV crew filming the events. The camera zooms in on four distinct locations 1. 2. 3. and 4. v2 v3 v4 "at the water's edge" "put out a little" "Put out into deep water"
v11 "They pulled their boats up on shore.."
The story gives us a powerful insight into the development of a personal relationship with Christ - and a greater commitment to Him. In this meditation I have interspersed words of reflection and prayer in italics at the end of each section.
AT THE WATER'S EDGE
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding round 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.
The place of the uncommitted. NOT in any way opposed to Him - but really still PART OF THE CROWD (2) Hearing Him - but busy (3) But, whilst busy, seen by Him "He saw at the water's edge..." Many people occupy this territory "at the water's edge" on the fringes you might say of the influence of Christ. Busy - listening a little as they are occupied - but seen by Him.
O Lord how often I am amongst the crowd when you approach. I am conscious mostly of the people around me – and I am preoccupied with necessary duties. Life is full of a mending of nets. Full of duty and responsibility – full of the everyday. But you see me, Master. You pick me out from the crowd – because you are concerned with individuals and you already have a plan that involves me. But Lord I am not aware of that plan. I am busy with duties – busy mending the nets of a life that is fragile and prone to tearing. Find me, Master – see me where I am and whatever I am doing. Work out your plan for my life.
B. OUT A LITTLE
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.
Jesus then took the initiative and, choosing Peter's boat, got into it and asked him to put out a little from the shore. (1) Christ entering the sphere of work of Peter In a sense "intruding" into Peter's normal everyday environment. He assumes the role of captain. Am I willing to accept Him there? (2) Jesus requested action He does! He challenges us to a wider range of SIMPLE actions which will demonstrate that we are content to have Him "with us in the boat". (2) In that closer environment Peter listened to His teaching. The nets left on the shore, attention could be given to Jesus alone. Him" "hear
O Lord how wonderful it would be if you chose MY boat. Only You know the reason for singling me out – but you do! Do not only see me where I am – but approach me: come closer to me and step into the sphere of my busyness – the part of my life that represents daily action and toil. Tell me what you want me to do – not in the long term, although you have a great plan for my life – but in the short term. Now! So that I may put a little distance between us and the crowd. Teach me what it means to enter the shallows of listening to You and hearing what it is you have to say without the nets of distraction and the crowds that surround me. Here in church just now – single me out and help me in my mind and heart to wait on your words to give you the attention you deserve! Yes – you are teaching all – but I want to hear you close up and personal.
C. PUT OUT INTO DEEP WATER v4
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." 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. This is the crucial stage in Peter's pilgrimage.
(1) Jesus assumes the rôle of CAPTAIN 5 Simon answered, "Master, and His commands are directed at Peter's area of specialism (2) Peter ACCEPTS His authority in spite of his own experience 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." (3) Jesus' command is a test of obedience in an area of previous failure "Because you say so..." recognising His captaincy The results we know were beyond their expectation. An embarrassing catch! The nets will need further work. Then in v8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" In effect "I'm not worthy Lord". A call then to a closer walk - a daring push out into the deep - this will expose our sin and our inadequacy - but that is the way the Master calls us.
O Lord I hear you speak to me by name! I do not know the subject of your teaching on that day – it has been lost in what followed – and yet nothing that You say is really lost. No word of yours falls fruitless to the ground – or lies useless in the bottom of the boat. Call me by name Lord to invite me to a deeper experience of who you are. Show me as you showed Peter that you know my disappointments and my failures. “All night…nothing” Give me the will to do – not what my own judgement tells me – but what you ask me to do! Challenge me into deeper waters. O Lord teach me what it means to respond “because you say so. . .” – teach me to surrender the captaincy of my life to You. To trust you by obedience with a new venture in proving the power of the Master! And then, Lord – when I see the great richness of your wonder working power – not just in fish miraculously caught – but in your amazing grace, and cross, and resurrection! Then help me to bow before you acknowledging my sin – and your amazing love!
D. THEY PULLED THEIR BOATS UP ON SHORE v11
Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. Only then was Peter given the real commission. It had not been our Lord’s primary intention to work a miracle of fish – or even bring Peter to his knees – it is to give him a future and deeper commitment. FROM NOW ON... (1) (2) Obedience and commitment are not an end but a glorious beginning. THAT is the way to a life wholly taken up with His mission...
there will be other lessons learned in the Gospel narrative ... but the long term goal is shared here : "from now on...catch men" Do you think they understood it? Do you think they had any inkling of the role that lay ahead of them? This they knew – that nothing would ever be the same again:(3) AT ONCE they pulled their boats on shore, left everything and followed Him Yes, there would be times when their boats would again feature in the narrative - but the FOCUS of their lives would now never be the same. The teaching had been good. The experience in the shallows had been better. The wonder of what He can do when we push out into the deep even more. But the greatest lay in His plan for them – a plan that demands total allegiance.
O Lord when I recognise your power and my own worthlessness I fall at Your feet. And there, where my sins are open before you – you offer me a prospect of a life altogether transformed.
You came to Peter in his fishing – and paid the rent of his boat in a miracle – and then you offered a different kind of living. I pause Lord to consider whether I am ready for your upturning of my life. respond as they did who heard you in their boats. I look at my life – all of it: Nets needing mending Nights without success A Saviour who turns it all round. . . And I wonder Lord whether I am ready to follow you in this new way. Lord I talk sometimes of burning my boats. Perhaps you don’t want that – but you do demand a complete obedience – a turning away from what I know to what You know – and I wonder at your power – and my own unworthiness! Lord – help me to pull the boat up onto the shore and follow you. Help me to leave behind what is in your scheme of things unimportant – so that I may have a life devoted to Jesus – and to the bringing in of others to His Kingdom. I wonder if I can really
These were the stages of their transformation:1. 2. 3. and 4. v2 v3 v4 "at the water's edge" "put out a little" "Put out into deep water"
v11 "They pulled their boats up on shore..”
God knows where we are on that spectrum of discipleship. His challenge is clear – as He approaches close and ever closer to our daily lives in order to give us a greater task – entirely fuelled by His power.
O Lord I see you approach me – surrounded as I am by the crowd. I hear your teaching for others. I listen a little more closely to your words. I hear my name spoken and I react with surprise – but with obedience. You highlight my sins and my failures – but you mend the net of my life so that I can join you in the business of the Kingdom. Help me to hear – and to follow – trusting you with it all!
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