“On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.” – Luke 5:1-11
Last week we continued our study of Luke 5:1-11 to understand how Jesus calls men to come and follow Him and be “fishers of men.” This text reveals three stages through which a man must pass if he is to become one of Jesus’ followers, one of His fishermen. First, a man must hear Jesus’ voice; He must hear the call of God. In order to hear God’s voice, he must pick up the Word of God and ask God to speak to him. As he spends time in God’s Word, he will hear Jesus calling “Follow me,” and when he hears His call, he must respond, “Yes Lord, I will follow.” Men, God is asking us to trust Him. For a man to show his complete trust in the Lord there is one final stage through which he must pass. To follow Jesus a man must be willing to surrender everything to Him. He must be willing to turn away from the pull of the world and leave it all behind. Look at verses 10- 11. “And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.’ And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.”
Why do you think Jesus said to Peter, “Do not be afraid?” Perhaps Peter was concerned about leaving his occupation and not being able to provide for his family. Perhaps Peter was afraid of what his friends would think of him if all of a sudden he was too closely associated with this Jesus. I believe that whenever Jesus calls you to step out of your comfort zone, you will have some fear. But listen, this miracle made it clear to Peter that Jesus could provide for all of his needs. This is what you and I need to remember when the Lord tells us to go out into deeper water. He will be with us and He will provide us with all that we need. Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-27 and Matthew 33, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? … But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” In David Platt’s book, Radical, he writes: “God delights in using ordinary Christians who come to the end of themselves and choose to trust in his extraordinary provision. He stands ready to allocate his power to all who are radically dependent on him and radically devoted to making much of him.”
George Muller pastored a church in Bristol, England, for more than sixty years, but he is best known for the orphan ministry he began. By the time George died in 1898, over ten thousand orphans had been housed and cared for in the five orphan houses he built. Remarkably, and intentionally, he never asked for money or other resources to provide for these orphans. Instead he simply prayed and trusted God to provide. Do you know why Muller started these orphanages? His primary purpose was not to care for orphans, although that was one of the purposes. Muller wrote in his journal that “The first and primary object of the work was that God might be magnified by the fact, that the orphans under my care are provided with all they need, only by prayer and faith without anyone being asked by me or my fellow-laborers whereby it may be seen, that God is faithful still, and hears prayer still.” Mueller wanted everyone—Christian and non-Christian alike—to know that God is indeed faithful to provide for his people.
And so let me ask you: Of what are you afraid? What are you clinging to for your security? Why not wade into deeper waters and cast your nets to see what God will do in and through you? Platt writes, “Ultimate satisfaction is found not in making much of ourselves but in making much of God.”
At the beginning of Luke 5, Peter, James and John were fully devoted to their jobs. They had been following Jesus, but from a distance, and only partially. But after this miracle, their lives were changed. They had seen Jesus for Who He really is, and now they were willing to leave it all to follow Him completely. At the beginning of this text, Peter called Jesus ‘Master’ – as in someone with a higher rank. But from this point forward, he called Him ‘Lord.’
What can we take away from this text? What is its meaning for you and I in 2021? Let me give you seven take-aways that Bob Diffenbaugh offers in a sermon on this text. Bob Diffenbaugh graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1971 and currently serves as the pastor of Community Bible Chapel in Richardson, Texas. Here are his take-aways…
- This text is not teaching that those who are the most committed to Jesus must leave their secular jobs to go into full-time ministry. If you are a believer, then you are already in full-time ministry. Probably, for most of you, God wants to use you right where you are. Someone has to make money in order to support the local church and Christian ministries. I have a young friend of mine who is gifted at making money. And he and his partner have decided to give 10% of their company’s revenues each month to Christian ministries. I believe he is doing exactly what the Lord has called him to do. On the other hand, there may be some of you, who sense the Lord calling you to leave your job and pursue some specific work for Him. But listen, you make sure that you are hearing the Lord clearly before you do that. He will speak to you from His Word and He will guide with His Spirit. Listen to His voice and follow Him wherever He leads.
- Following Jesus begins with the realization of your inadequacies and needs. Those in the Gospels who came to the Lord and followed Him were those in desperate need. Jesus said that He came to save the lost. He came not for the righteous, but for the sick. Thus, it is those who are inadequate in themselves who follow Jesus. Failure is the first step in following Him. Those who feel sufficient will never turn to Him.
- Following Jesus requires faith in Him as your all-sufficient Savior. To follow Him is to be assured of eternal life. To follow Him is to be assured of divine guidance and direction. Our great lack of faith can be traced, in almost every case, to an inadequate grasp of the goodness and the greatness of God. When we realize who it is who calls us to follow Him, the faith to do so comes easily.
- The Lord knows our weaknesses and our unbelief, and He gives us ample evidence upon which to base our faith. We have the empty tomb. We have the completed Scriptures. And we have His indwelling Spirit.
- In order to follow Jesus, we must forsake certain things. In order for Peter, James and John to follow Jesus, they had to leave their boats and their nets. They had to leave those things in which they had faith, in which they found their safety, their security, and their significance. He has the same call for us. We cannot follow two leaders, and we are led by the one in which we trust. Thus, we must have faith in only one person, Jesus Christ, and in nothing else, if we are to follow Him.
- If we are to follow Jesus, then we must do what He did. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. To follow Him that must be the cry of our hearts. We are to be fishers of men. Jesus said in Matthew 9:37-38, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Understand that when Jesus asks you to put out into deeper water and drop your nets, he promises you a catch.
- Finally, we should not make hasty commitments to follow Jesus, nor should we call on others to do so. Jesus did not press these men to make a hasty decision. He called them over the course of time. Important decisions are not made quickly. Diffenbaugh says, “Decisions which are good ones, which are lasting ones, are those made slowly, prayerfully, and deliberately.”
In his letter to the church in Sardis, Jesus said, “You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die…Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy” (Revelation 3:1-2, 4-5). Jesus commended the few who were faithful. In every generation there are a few who are faithfully fishing for men. Don’t you want to be counted among the faithful?
In Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love, he writes about a man by the name of Rings. His home is the cab of his pickup, which he parks near downtown Ocean Beach, California. He is an ex-convict, ex-addict and ex-alcoholic. Rings likes to say that if Jesus saved him, then Jesus is able to save anyone and everyone. So instead of using his monthly check to buy alcohol or a hotel room for himself, he spends all of it on food at the local supermarket. He transfers the food he buys to coolers in the back of his truck, then he drives to the beach and makes meals for his fellow men experiencing homelessness.
While preparing the food, Rings tells the gathering crowd about the freedom that Jesus brought into his life. He tells them that God is the One who told him to feed others with his money, and that it’s because God loves each of them. This man gives everything he has to others—literally everything—because he knows that he has nothing that wasn’t given to him by God.
Do you hear Jesus calling you? Are you willing to trust Him with those things to which you are clinging? Are you willing to surrender everything you have to Jesus? If so, then you are ready to put out to deep water and drop your nets and allow God to use you to be a fisher of men!