Sermon Ideas For Luke 5:1-11 Part 5
The call of Jesus Christ to those first disciples as noted here contains a kaleidoscope of characteristics applicable still. Let us look, one verse at a time, at various aspects of this call, then and now. The text quoted is from TEV.
1 One day Jesus was standing on the shore of Lake Gennesaret while the people pushed their way up to him to listen to the word of God.
The call of Jesus is the Word of God; the Word of God is life and even as they did back then, the multitudes still seek life. However they may understand it, or whatever they may call their search, each desires an abundant, meaningful life. Crowds still push ahead in this seeking. Today this search can be rightfully depicted as excited, frenzied, and even hysterical. Perhaps such searching is carried out by the continual accumulation of material possessions; sometimes it is the ceaseless desire to acquire more and more money as a means of permanent security, happiness, and well-being; always coveting the very top grades in class, or to be dressed in the latest fashion, or to drive the newest, sportiest car on the block; continually craving special recognition by others...These are some of the forms this "pushed their way" takes today.
2 He saw two boats pulled up on the beach; the fishermen had left them and were washing the nets.
Jesus utilized the materials on hand. Jesus calls us today to use what we have. It is easy to excuse ourselves from duty by saying that we don't have the proper equipment or necessary supplies, or even the best training. However that may be, and however pleasant it is to have all of the most up-to-date resources at our disposal, often this is not the case. God asks us to use what we have to the best of our ability and does not excuse us just because it may not be the finest or newest available. You'll notice that Jesus didn't demand a brand new Ski Natique from which to do his preaching that day.
3 Jesus got into one of the boats—it belonged to Simon—and asked him to push off a little from the shore. Jesus sat in the boat and taught the crowd.
The call of Jesus is an invitation to cooperate with others; the call does not occur in a vacuum, but always within the context of working relationships with others and working together with others. We also see here that the call of Jesus is instructive: teaching and learning take place; one does not remain the same in the presence of this call. We either decide to follow, or we decide not to follow, however subconsciously this is often done. Both decisions, particularly the decision to follow, are dynamic activities.
4 When he finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Push the boat out further to the deep water, and you and your partners let down your nets for a catch."
Sometimes the call of Jesus is an unseemly command; back then no one in their right mind fished in broad daylight. Jesus wasn't known for his fishing prowess; his livelihood had been carpentry. This command to let down their nets didn't make sense. Even so today, God's call sometimes appears absurd and ridiculous.
5 "Master," Simon answered, "we worked hard all night long and caught nothing. But if you say so, I will let down the nets."
When Jesus calls out of the depths of discouragement, especially, objections are easy. But the call is compelling, vitiating against breaking rules of common sense. This is because of who it is making the call. If this were anyone other than God in Christ calling, it would be meaningless, powerless, and absurd.
6 They let them down and caught such a large number of fish that the nets were about to break.
Heeding such a call often contains elements of surprise/serendipity. Obeying can very well result in abundance.
7 So they motioned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came and filled both boats so full of fish that the boats were about to sink.
In this case, obeying elicits superabundance and the cooperation of others is necessary. Trying to be a "one man show" would have sunk them, literally!
8 When Simon Peter saw what had happened, he fell on his knees before Jesus and said, "Go away from me, Lord! I am a sinful man!"
Certainly, there may be elements of fear and/or repulsion in God's call; a sense of unworthiness, perhaps. Peter gets a flash of insight as to the divinity of this man, and couldn't stand it.
9 He and the others with him were all amazed at the large number of fish they had caught.
10a The same was true of Simon's partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee.
Results of heeding are, sometimes, mind-boggling.
10b Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will be catching men."
Jesus' call addresses the very fears it kindles; it does not ignore them. In this instance there is a paradoxical statement; one must look again to appreciate its meaning and import. "Catching men..." what does that mean? (see Theological Themes)
11 They pulled the boats up on the beach, left everything, and followed Jesus.
When all is said and done, the call is obeyed. In this case, as in ours, perhaps one could say the call was obeyed because of who made the call and what the call entailed. Sometimes, though, it could very well be said that the call is obeyed in spite of who made it and what it involved. Perhaps there is a combination of these elements working together. Whatever the case, the call goes out; those who listen to and obey the call do so, not necessarily because it makes sense, is practical, or because it is likely to succeed; all-too-often the opposite is true. But because God is the one making the call, normal rules of human relationship and response do not necessarily provide safe guidance in response. God is God, and God brings success in God's own way and time. `"My thoughts," says the Lord, "are not like yours, and my ways are different from yours. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways and thoughts above yours"' (Is 55:8,9).