Fifth Sunday after Trinity Morning Prayer (17 July 2022) Luke 5
When Jesus began His ministry, He was baptised in the river Jordan by John the Baptist. The Holy Spirit then led Him into the wilderness to be tempted by devil for forty days and forty nights. Jesus overcame the temptation and returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee. He started preaching in synagogues and choosing His disciples. He called them from various walks of life. Today, I would like to meditate based on our reading from the Gospel according to St. Luke 5. In this passage, we read about Jesus calling Peter and the sons of Zebedee, James and John, to be His disciples. It seems to be a very simple passage. But if we look at this passage from the disciples’ perspective, we can learn how to be the Lord’s disciples.
When Jesus came to the lake of Gennesaret, many people gathered to hear His words. He saw two ships and the fishermen washing their nets. Jesus got into the boat which belonged to Simon Peter and preached to those who had gathered. After He finished speaking, Jesus told Simon, “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” Simon replied, “Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net”. Luke 5 verse 6 says, “when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.” They called their friends to help them. The fishes filled two ships and the ships began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’s knees and asked Jesus to leave them.
Simon Peter and his friends were experienced fishermen. They were very familiar about when, where and how to fish. They should have been knowledgeable about fishes and the various fishing techniques. Although Peter and his friends tried throughout the night, they could not catch any fish. They put in a lot of effort. They depended on each other, their expertise and experience. When they were unsuccessful, they were disappointed. Similarly, when we depend on our strength, we will not be always successful and disappointed.
Simon Peter and his other friends did not know Jesus when they first saw Him. When they were washing their nets, they saw Jesus and people pressing Him to hear the Word of God. Jesus requested Peter to move the ship a little further from the land. He preached to the people who had gathered there. We do not know what Jesus spoke that day. But Peter and his friends would have heard some of Jesus’s sermon. Jesus’s preaching must have struck a chord with them. So, when Jesus asked Peter to move the ship to the deep and asked him to let their net for a draught, he simply obeyed. Whatever Jesus preached about might have given Peter a trust in Jesus. Peter accepts their failure the previous night, but he obeyed. We maybe experts in what we do. But do we obey Jesus without question? Moses was an architect who built great cities for the Pharoah in Egypt. But he built the Lord’s tabernacle following the Lord’s blueprint. The Lord bore witness for Moses in Numbers 12:7 saying Moses “is faithful in all mine house”. Moses obeyed what the Lord said and the Lord bore witness about his faithfulness. Isaiah 30:21 promises us “thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left”. Peter heard the voice from Jesus about what to do. He listened to the voice. Humanly thinking, it seems foolish. The experienced fishermen had a fruitless night. But when they listened to the carpenter, they caught fishes enough to sink two ships. Peter’s immediate obedience brought that blessing.
When Simon Peter and the other fishermen obeyed Jesus, they caught two ships of fish. It also brought a change of heart in Peter. In verse 8, Peter admits he is a sinful man. He asked Jesus to leave them because he was astonished. When he accepted his sin and humbled himself, Jesus said, “Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” When they brought their ships to land, they forsook all and followed him. They became Jesus’s disciples. When we come to the Lord’s presence, are we convicted of our sinful nature? Do we repent and reconcile and re-align our relationship with the Lord? Jesus did not compel His disciples to follow Him. He did not promise them riches and fame or other benefits. It was their choice to follow Jesus. We who are Christians are Jesus’s disciples. Let us ask ourselves why we are following Him – is it because we realise Jesus’s sacrifice for us on the Cross or because it is a tradition or is it for our personal gain? Jesus called the disciples to save the entire world. We are called to bring other to Jesus’s flock. Are we bringing others to the Lord? Or are we calling ourselves His disciples and using our expertise to execute our will?
All of us work hard in all that we do. In spite of putting in our best efforts, we fail. During those times, are we willing to surrender and simply obey the Lord? “Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.” Are we willing to step out of our comfort zone when Jesus calls us? It is difficult and contrary to the world’s ways and thoughts. But if we say “nevertheless at thy word I will”, our Lord can use us according to His will. We can learn from Apostle Paul’s experience. In Philippians 4:13 he said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” When all our efforts fail, we can look up to God to receive His guidance. Our God will be true to His promises. He will guide us. When we put in our effort with His guidance, we will see results beyond human comprehension. Zechariah 4:6 says, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts”.
When we humble ourselves and listen to His voice, God can use us to do mighty things for Him. Verse 11 says Peter, James and John “brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.” They had their ships full of fish, but they left their worldly blessing to follow Jesus. In 1 Kings 19, we read about prophet Elisha. When prophet Elijah cast his mantle upon him, “took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.” In Matthew 16:24 “said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me”. Jesus’s disciples left their earthly possessions to follow Jesus. The disciples left their houses and families. They formed the early Christian Church and died for the Gospel. They stored their treasures in heaven. When we become Jesus’s disciples, we are called to forsake everything for Him. Only we know what we have given up for the Lord. When Peter. James and John forsook the fishes they caught, God transformed their lives and He made them fishers of men. Jesus promised Peter in Matthew 16:19, “That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” After Jesus’s resurrection, Peter brought thousands to God. He performed many miracles. Let us ask ourselves if like Elisha and the disciples we have forsook everything for the One who sacrificed Himself for us.
In the Old Testament, we read about Joseph who was in tough situations for many years. He was thrown into the pit and sold as a slave by his brothers. He was thrown in the prison for his righteousness. He interpreted the visions of the butler and the baker. In Genesis 40:14&15 Joseph requested the butler to think about him, show kindness to him, and bring him out of the prison. But we read in Genesis 40:23 that the chief butler did not remember Joseph. When God’s appointed time came, Joseph was lifted from the prison to Pharaoh’s court. When Joseph sought help from the butler, he was forgotten. After two years, when the Pharaoh had dreams, Joseph was remembered. Joseph had received promises about his life. But the situations in his life were contrary to the promises. But even when he was put in the pit or prison, sold as a slave, elevated in the prison or Potiphar’s house, it took him closer to fulfilling the Lord’s vision in his life. Joseph was true wherever he was – in Potiphar’s house or in the prison. The Lord’s promise came true in Joseph’s life in the Lord’s appointed time. “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) (Hebrews 10:23)”.
God chose us as His disciples. Do we actually know Jesus? Do we have a personal relationship with Him? Do we listen to His still small voice that guides us? If we do, He will guide us to do His will. Do we cast the nets when he tells us? Do we have the obedience that the Lord expects from us? Or do we advise Him on how things should be done? When we repent, turn to the LORD Jesus and obey, He will make us fishers of men. He will use us as instruments to bring people to Him. If we obey and live our lives according to His will, we will receive His blessings. Not only earthly but also the heavenly blessings in His appointed time. Amen!