Our reading for Friday, May 10, 2019 is Luke 5:1-11.
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people 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. 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 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. 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
Two phrases rise out from the passage for this morning. The first is Peter’s response to Jesus’ request that he put out into the waters of the Sea of Galilee to fish for a second time. Though the request seemed unreasonable since he and his companions had already spent the prime time for fishing without success, Peter none-the-less consented saying, “Just because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
How often is it that faith calls upon us to do that which seems contrary to reason? Certainly the demands of an active faith call us to actions we consider uncomfortable, but what about when they are unreasonable. There is a difference between the two. Additionally, how can we be certain what we are asked is from God? Now Peter did not have this issue since it was definitely Jesus who asked him to pull out from shore and fish, yet he was not necessarily sold upon the idea that Jesus was Lord. Peter refers to Jesus as “Master,” a designation of respect toward one in authority. From what he had heard and seen in Jesus before being called to be his disciple this itinerant rabbi deserved this respect.
Respect is one thing but infallibility is another. Peter knew his job and was certain this was not the time to fish. The likelihood of success when the best opportunity had passed though not impossible was certainly highly unlikely. The church in America is in trouble. The opinions of culture seem to be against us, the level of theological difference and conflict is high, and the needs confronting the church appear overwhelming. Though these things are true and we may feel it is time to pull out our nets and go home to comfort ourselves with our individual beliefs this is the time we need to take the risks of doing what is unreasonable and reach out boldly for Jesus.
Individually we may feel vulnerable and long for the security of our solitude, however, God does not call us to retreat into our shells of comfort but do that which might be unreasonable and invest in people’s lives and in activities which unashamedly hold out the Gospel. This call is not limited to the church but to us as individual followers of Jesus. We may feel it is unreasonable to surrender more of our precious time, or finances, or pleasures to reach out personally to our neighbors, build relationships and take advantage of opportunities to share Christ, yet that is what Jesus requests.
A comfortable faith will not cut it. To bear fruit when our culture most obviously needs Christ will demand our going beyond and doing the unreasonable. We need to do this just because Jesus says so. If or when we act on this call we will be shocked by the catch of humanity we may discover for Jesus. It is then we will call him “Lord” and face the shame of our sin for not living boldly for Christ. The great reward from our filling the great purpose of introducing others to the source of life and health will be worth any risk we can take. Live large and bold for Jesus!