November 2016 Newsletter
When [Jesus] had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. (Luke 5:4-6)
While Jesus was teaching by the lakeside, He observed some fishermen cleaning their nets. They had worked during the night, but had returned to shore without a catch. All they could do was to prepare for the next night, hoping for more success. Jesus asks one of them, Simon, to allow Him to use his boat as a floating pulpit, so that everyone in the crowd would be able to hear His teaching.
Then Jesus turns to Simon and tells him to do something unusual. Rather than finish cleaning the nets, Jesus tells him to go out and let them down one more time. The experienced fisherman is somewhat puzzled – by now the sun is high and the time for fishing is over. Yet something about this man’s words has gripped him. So he replies, “nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” And the result of his obedience is miraculous – the net is full of fish, more than he can manage to bring in on his own.
At this point Simon could have seen the possibilities for the future. Involving Jesus in the fishing business would bring in great profit. If He could direct the fishermen to the fish, they could employ their skills to bring in the catch. Working together in this way, they could become the most profitable fishing company in the whole of Galilee! That is precisely what Christianity means to many of us – an extra boost for our plans and ambitions. If God blesses me I can be successful in what I want to do.
Such thoughts never cross Simon’s mind. He sees the miracle and, in the presence of the miracle worker, he sees himself. All he can say is, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Yet Jesus does not even respond to Simon’s confession of unworthiness. Instead He says to him, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” Jesus accepts him and calls him to a new, greater assignment. Without hesitation, Simon and his partners bring their boats to land one last time, as they forsake all and followed Jesus.
In Luke 18:18-23 we read of another man, who was not willing to forsake all for the sake of God’s kingdom. Challenged by Jesus to sell all that he has and distribute the money to the poor in order to follow Him, this rich man walks away sorrowful. His desire and confidence is in what he owns, and to give it up, he finds impossible. The disciples, who have now been with Jesus for some time, are astonished at their master’s harsh demand. If this is what it costs to follow, how can anyone be saved? Jesus replies, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” God alone is able to change our hearts’ desires that we will put Him and His call before everything this world can offer.
Then Peter (the former fisherman Simon) points out to Jesus, “See, we have left all and followed You.” (Luke 18:28) Jesus replies, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Luke 18:29-30) Our heavenly Father is able to take care of those who put their lives into His faithful hands. Let us answer His call and depend on His provision. His purpose for us is not merely to prosper us in our plans but to invite us to participate in His eternal purpose to restore His creation to Himself through Jesus. Let us catch men, women and children by proclaiming Jesus to them.