Feb 7th, 2010.
Jesus Calls His First Disciples
1 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, [a] the people were 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 signalled 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 fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
They must have been so tired and just a little disappointed – even for professional fisherman.
They had done that back-breaking fishing with huge nets all night and come up with not even a blowfish. As the sun was setting they did their usual preparations and thought that in a few hours and they would be bringing in the first of the night’s bounty. 10.00pm came, and not a fish: “It’s going to be a quiet night”. Midnight comes and still no fish: “it’s going to be a long night!”: the hard hours – 3.00am. No fish: “I hate fish anyway!”
And then as the sun comes up that feeling of frustration and just wanting to go home to bed and erase this wasted night with a good breakfast and a long sleep – before it all starts again at sunset…..
And then the crowds start to gather as the daily net-cleaning ritual is being done. As they wash the nets and get everything stowed away all these people are turning up. “Why all the people?” they ask each other. Maybe the Kallis brothers have hauled in a huge catch down there where the crowd are gathered? Is it the annual synagogue Sunday school picnic and we forgot about it?!
Little do they know they are seen by someone? The new Rabbi in these parts has seen them before they saw him. Maybe he has been watching all morning. Maybe he has been watching them all night, all week. He’s got something in mind for them….
Simon’s boat is there gently moving in the little waves lapping on the sand. The new rabbi asks Simon if he could use his boat to speak to the crowd. “Can you put the boat out a couple of metres from the shore, Simon?” asks Jesus.
Simon has seen this fellow. Indeed, he has had an amazing encounter with him. This man came into Simon’s house and prayed for his mother-in-law in her sickness and the woman was made well. News spread fast around Capernaum and hundreds of locals turned up at the house and Jesus healed them all.
So, Simon responds positively to Jesus’ request. “No problem, Jesus. Here, let me help”.
So there is Simon in the boat still hungry, tired and maybe a little ticked off about having no income today, but hearing the Master teach the huge crowd.
Eventually Jesus wraps things up. Surely it is time to eat now. Surely it’s time to get home and get some sleep…
And then the hard request. “Simon, let’s go fishing” says Jesus. Get out into deep water and put down the nets again”, he says.
You can just hear Simon’s internal thoughts! “Ah, doesn’t he know that the timing is wrong!? You don’t catch fish at this time of day. Doesn’t he know that I’ve had it? He doesn’t know how hard it is for me to do what he says. I’ve tried this…..all night. Who doesn’t he think he is?! Flamin’ ‘tourist’. It won’t work!
But his outside voice says, “Sure Teacher. We have worked hard all night and we did not catch a thing you know, but because you say so, I will go out into deep water and try again.”
We know the rest. Abundant catch. So big all the relatives are called in to drag it in. So big that the water is beginning to come over the gunnels.
Peter has again encountered the divine. He has been touched by someone pure, holy, powerful and someone who gave him a glimpse of what love and grace and beauty really are.
Strange: encountering the personal touch of the love and power of Jesus seems no easy experience. It is scary to experience the divine. It draws a deep sense of undeservedness.
Like Isaiah before him, Peter utters those fear-filled words – “Go away from me God, for I am unclean, unworthy, unsure, scared….!”
And then those soothing words of forgiveness from Jesus that disarm any fear, “Don’t be afraid, Simon. This is the beginning of a new life’s mission. It is a good thing you have experienced here to day out in the deep water. It is a preview of the exhilaration and fulfilment you will experience as you follow me from this day to the next. No need to be scared of the deep water.”
From this first day in the deep water they would experience new dimensions of Jesus’ power, love, and forgiveness and they would understand and experience new dimensions of this life mission – to seek and catch people in God’s net of healing and forgiveness.
But it always seems to happen in deep water. Jesus puts us in deep water. Is it because unless we are in deep over our head and beyond our ability that we are listening? Is deep water the place of Jesus’ life-changing teaching because in the shallows we don’t really need him, hear him or want him?
The question is, “where is the deep water for me?” Where is your deep water- that thing you have tried and tried at but have failed.
• Is it that thing that always gets you down and brings out the worst in you?
o That mistake and the shame it still brings
o That word you wished you had never said
o That missed opportunity that you could not do at the time and you regret now
• Is it that wound you carry around and cannot find healing for?
o Those words from your dad or mum
o That attitude of failure
o That abuse
o That thing that still affects you and you know it. You have tried to get rid of it- now Jesus says let’s go into it now
• Is it that thing you long for but cannot manufacture no matter how hard you try?
o That ability you need, that freedom you desire, that confidence you long for
• Is it that thing you have always known you need to do but you can never make the time of find the courage to finally do?
o a Jesus centred life
o a more complete understanding of God’s Word
o a deeper relationship with God and his church
o that calling you have been resisting out of fear or just distraction
Friends, it seems that in the deep water we are confronted with the full force of Jesus’ power – his deity and his grace – his deep love for us.
It is in these deep waters of our lives that we know we are in the presence of the holy and we feel the full weight of our unholiness, “Woe is me- I am an unclean person!” It is in these moments that we are changed. The old ways go and new things are bestowed upon us by a gracious and all-knowing God of grace
We are unclean compared to the perfect Jesus and yet he keeps calling us. Our sin does not deter him. He still called Peter into the deep waters and gave him a life-mission. Jesus makes us holy and righteous, like himself and so he makes us people of great value and use in his mission to call the unholy.
So, where is the deep water? Where do you need to let Jesus take you now?
Will we go with him into deep water? Can you say to your Saviour now, “Because you say so, Lord, I will do what you say”?
It is only in the deep water – in the test that we know his strength and hear his call.