Monday, June 9, 2014

Fishers of Men

I love when I read the Bible and find out something that I never knew before.  I have been reading the scriptures now for 38 years – and it amazes me the things that I continue to learn.  I am a slow learner at times, but I do know that the Word of God is living - wisdom and understanding flow freely from the Bible’s pages.  Just this week I experienced that in Luke chapter 5…
The crowds, longing to hear God’s word, are pressing in on Jesus.  He is standing by Lake Gennesaret.  Lake Gennesaret is actually the Sea of Galilee.  Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John (fisherman at trade) are there on the shore cleaning their fishing nets with their boats at the edge of the lake.  They had been fishing all night long without catching a single fish.  Jesus asked Peter to let him put out his boat a little from the shore so that He could be heard by the crowd.  Jesus sat in the boat and taught the people that day. 
This was the same account that was told in Mark chapter 1.   I didn’t know that.  Mark tells a more condensed version:  Jesus passes by the men and says “follow Me and I will make you fish for people” and immediately they leave their nets and followed Him.  I have often read Mark’s account and wondered how they just upped and left everything just like that??  I never questioned it much, though – just believed it. 
But it makes sense now. Luke’s account gives us more details… In the preceding chapter, Luke tells that the people who heard Jesus speak “were amazed at the gracious words that came from His mouth” (Luke 4:22) and “they were astonished at His teaching because His message had authority” (Luke 4:32). 
So as this scene opens Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John are there.  I’m sure this was not coincidental.  It was a divine appointment.  Jesus knew they’d be there.   Maybe they didn’t even pay much attention at first – they were exhausted from working hard all night long. But Jesus had a captive audience.  They couldn’t help but hear His gracious words and His message of authority.   They were experiencing the very presence of God – in His Son Jesus Christ and His words.
Luke 5:4 says “When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”  Simon Peter’s reply is “we’ve worked hard all night long and caught nothing!  But at your word, I’ll let down the nets.”   They realized after hearing Jesus that He spoke with a greater authority than anyone they’d ever met.  It was right to listen to this One who spoke the oracles of God.  So they did what He said.  And their nets were so full of fish that they began breaking.  James and John in the other boat had to come and help them.  Both boats were so full of fish they began sinking!  This blessing of obedience to God’s word brought Simon Peter to his knees in repentance…”Go away from me, because I’m a sinful man, Lord!”   But Jesus assured them, “Don’t be afraid, From now on you will be catching people!”
“Then they brought the boats to land, left everything, and followed Him.”
Jesus didn’t just walk by and say “follow Me.”  He spoke words of life to them.  He proved His authority over even the fish of the sea.  He revealed to these men that obedience to God’s word brought abundance and blessing.  The goodness of God led Simon to repentance. 
So what is the message to us?  God’s Word prepares us for the Great Commission that is given to us to go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey what He commanded us. 
11.      We must first hear, listen to, and obey God’s Word.  This is fundamental and foundational to our walk with Christ.  We will never have a desire to follow Him if we do not hear His word.  Daily time in His word and in His presence is imperative.
22.      Christ may tell us to go back out into “deep water” – to places we have not had success in the past and let down our nets again.  Perhaps there are people that you have witnessed to in the past without seeming to succeed – The Lord may be encouraging you to do it again.  You will never know until you take the step of obedience.  Or maybe you are weary from “working hard all night” without any fruit from your labors.  Christ encourages us to press on.
33.      Just as Simon, Andrew, James and John “left everything, and followed Him”, so must we.  From what I read here, it’s not hard when you have met Jesus and experienced His living Word and the blessings in obeying it.  By doing this, we will truly become fishers of men.
44.      Our hearts become humbled and repentant when we observe the truths of God’s Word.  When we experience the blessings in obedience, it begins a process that changes us – we are humbled before the great and Awesome God who shows us that everything is under His authority.  We see His greatness and we bow down.

Lord, open our ears to hear Your voice, our eyes to see You, and our hearts to obey.  May our obedience to your Word bring many people into Your Kingdom as we become humble and repentant fishers of men.

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