Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered April 4, 2009 by Pastor Don Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Peter's Boat

Matthew 4:18-20

(RealAudio available)

I want to speak with you today about Peter’s boat.  You know, Jesus worked for 1 thousand and 3 hundred days to get Peter out of his boat.  And I want to tell you a little secret that you may have known, probably not.  For most of this time, Peter actually loved his boat more than he loved Jesus.  And that’s a shame.  And so as we go through this sermon I want you to think about yourself and your life and your family.

You know, Peter would leave his boat only to come back to the fishing business.  And the little boat was his nearest and most prized possession, and it was his occupation.   Peter was a big burley fisherman.  Strong, with the hands of a corn husker. 

And Peter’s boat was a lifetime investment.   Often times they inherited the boat from the family, and Peter was out there fishing every day.  It was a very successful business, successful fisherman.  And if they took good care of the boat it could last them for a very long time.   And most fishermen that I know of are good story tellers.  Have you ever met a fisherman that said, “Now let me tell you about the big one that got away.”  They are good at telling stories, and Jesus needed somebody who like to talk, and could tell what they had experienced.  And so He needed Peter.

So look if you will now over here at Matthew, chapter 4 in your Bible, and beginning with verse 18.  “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw 2 brothers, Simon, called Peter, and his brother Andrew, and they were casting a net into the lake, because they were fishermen.”  Verse 19.  “‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’”  And at once they left their nets and followed him.”   Very quickly they were accepting this challenge.  

Now you would think that this would be the last time we ever heard of Peter’s boat.  Wouldn’t you think that?   Peter left, dropped the fishing business, and the boat was left behind, tied to a post with a sign on the mast that said “For Sale, one fishing boat.  26 feet long, 7 feet wide.  Capacity: 13 persons.  Suitable for one helmsman and 4 rowers.  Owner is quitting the business.”  Wouldn’t you expect a sign like that on that boat?  But that’s not what happened.  Peter’s boat is very much in the picture, still.  All through the New Testament you read about this boat. 

And it’s hard to have an exact chronology but let’s go to Luke, chapter 5, beginning with verse 1.  Here is what I think might be one of the first episodes about this boat.  Luke 5, verse 1.  “One day Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him listening to the word of God,  and He saw on the water's edge 2 boats, left there by the fishermen, and they were washing their nets.”  Now why were they washing their nets?  Because they had been out fishing.  They were still fishing.  They hadn’t given up that business.  They were with Jesus part time, They weren’t a hundred percent followers yet of Jesus.  And verse 3.  “He got into one of the boats, one belonging to Simon Peter, and asked him to put out a little bit from the shore. And there He sat down and taught the people from the boat.”

Peters little boat became a pulpit that day.  And so it seems that just like Peter,  the little boat was willing to be useful for the Lord.  And the instant that Jesus entered the boat, the boat was forever changed, because it became now a tool in the hands of Jesus, to be used by Jesus.  You know, when Jesus comes into your heart, you are for—you’re not the same anymore.  Second Corinthians, chapter 5, and verse 17 says,   “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation.  A new creature.”  And Jesus was the preacher that day.  And blessed is the church where Jesus Christ is heard from the pulpit.  Amen?  Well Peter’s boat became Jesus’ pulpit.  And Jesus entered Peter’s boat not as a passenger, but as the Captain of the ship.  And any time Jesus comes into your life, He wants to enter as the Lord of your life.  He wants to enter as the Captain of your ship.  He wants to be in charge.  That’s what He did in that boat.

Luke contains another story, if you go to verse 4, about the boat.  “And when He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’  And Simon answered, ‘Master, we've worked hard all night and we haven't caught anything.’”  What were they doing all night?  They were fishing.  All night long they were out there fishing.  Do you think that Jesus can get a lot of good work out of His disciples in the daytime if they’re out there fishing all night long every night?  No way!   They were working.  They were fishing.  They had not totally left their former occupations.  They were not devoting a hundred percent to the cause of Jesus Christ.  And that’s what Jesus wants.  He wants a hundred percent of you.

“So Peter said,  ‘Well, because you say so, I will let down the nets.’”  Verse 6.  Notice what happened.  “And when they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that the nets were beginning to break.  And they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and they filled up both boats so full” that what happened? “They began to sink.”   That is totally amazing.  Peter was totally impressed.  And he should have been impressed.  In the next verse, verse 8,  “He fell down at Jesus’ knees, and said, ‘Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’”   They had just witnessed the mighty, awesome power of God, and Peter needed to realize-- surely at this point you would think that Peter would leave his little boat.   Quit being a fisherman.  Put up the “For Sale” sign.  Connect fully with Jesus.  Connect fully with this awesome power of God that he had experienced.  “This is great stuff.  Here I am fishing all night, catching nothing, and all of a sudden He sinks both boats with a load of fish.  I’ve got to connect with Jesus.  Here’s where the power is.”  Jesus wanted Peter to experience a greater potential than his own efforts could accomplish. 

And this reminds me of David Huxley.  Have you heard of David Huxley?  He holds the world record for pulling jetliners.  Have you ever pulled a jetliner, before?  Well he holds the world’s record.  On October 16, 1997 at the Mascot Airport in Sydney, Australia he strapped around his upper torso a special harness.  He hooked it up to a steel cable 45 feet long that was attached to the front wheel strut of a 747 jetliner weighing 1 hundred and 67 tons.  And he leaned into the harness with his tennis shoes firmly planted on the runway, and he pulled with all his might, and he did pull that 747 1 hundred yards in 1 minute and 21 seconds, setting a world record for pulling a jetliner that heavy, that far, in that short a time.  His efforts are impressive. 

Now that 747 jetliner reminds me of God’s church.  And the strength of a few extraordinary members can do a lot in God’s church.  But that’s not what I want.  And that’s not what Jesus wants.  We must see a much greater potential in the church.  We must look for the moment when God starts the engines, and pulls the throttles back, and the church, empowered by the power of the Holy Spirit, and riding on the wings of the Spirit takes off, and goes through the skies for hundreds and hundreds of miles.  That’s what I want to happen.  That’s what God wants to happen with His church.  We need to connect with the latter rain power. Peter may have been a great fisherman but when he met Jesus, and Jesus sent enough fish to almost sink two ships, Peter saw a great potential that he had never known. 

But “The Boat” as it is called, appears  again.  Come back to Matthew, chapter 8 in your Bible, and verse 23.  “Then Jesus got into the boat and His disciples followed Him, and without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat.”  What was Jesus doing?  He was sound asleep.  “The disciples went and woke Him up, and said, ‘Lord, save us! We're going to drown!’”  I honestly wonder sometimes if Peter knew how to swim.  “He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then He got up and He rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.”  That is an amazing story.  The sail didn’t do them any good.  They probably had to row back to the shore.

Peters little boat became famous when Jesus stepped into it.  And you know that when Jesus comes into your life, your net worth increases dramatically, because Jesus Christ is in your heart.  And Peter’s boat carried the Creator of the entire universe.  What an honor.  And I want you to think of yourself as Peter’s boat.  Is Jesus in your heart?  Is Jesus the captain of your ship?  Is He?

Peter’s little boat became Jesus’ bed.  He slept in that boat.  I guess you could call it a waterbed, cause the boat was practically full of water.  It was about to sink.  Jesus was very tired.  The boat became His pillow.  And surely at that moment, Lucifer, the devil, must have thought, “I have the early church.  They’re all in 1 boat.  Jesus is there.  All 12 disciples are there.  If I can sink this boat I will obliterate Christianity.”  So I think that storm was sent from the devil for that purpose.  Satan was trying to drown the early church.  All their eggs were in the same boat.  But let me tell you an amazing truth, and that is that the devil cannot destroy you when Jesus is in your heart. 

Peter’s boat survived that terrible storm because Jesus was in it.  The next time we hear about the little boat is right after Jesus fed 5 thousand people.  Come over here to Matthew 14.  Matthew 14, verse 22.  “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowd.  And as He dismissed them, He went up to the mountainside Himself to pray. And when evening came, He was there alone.”  24.  “But the boat was already a considerable distance from the land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against them.”  This boat was in a bad storm again.  That boat survived a lot of storms, didn’t it?  And this storm hit that boat.  The boat was there for what reason?  Why was the boat out on that lake at that time?  Because Jesus had said, “Go.” And so the disciples obeyed.  Off they went.  Jesus sent them into the midst of that storm.  Did Jesus know that that storm would come?  I think He did.  And you know, Christians are not exempt from troubles.  You’re not exempt from cancer.  You’re not exempt from bankruptcy.  You’re not exempt from troubles.  Sometimes God allows us to be tested so that life’s storms will test us and see what we’re made out of.  But if you trust in God, God will see you through.  You will not sink if you don’t give up.  Jesus is more than able to handle the storms that come into your life.

When the waves were about to sink Peter’s boat, Jesus came.  Look at verse 26.  “When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they cried out in fear.  They said, ‘It's a ghost.’”  Verse 27.  “Jesus immediately said to them, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid.’”   You know, they had a bad—the disciples must have had poor eyesight, don’t you think?  They could never recognize Jesus.  When He came out of the tomb, and various appearances, they couldn’t recognize Him.  And here, they couldn’t figure out who He was, and Jesus said, “It’s I.  Don’t be afraid.”  And verse 28.  “Lord, if it is You.”  He still didn’t know who it was.  The lightning was flashing and they surely could see that it’s Him.  They recognize His voice, surely.  But they honestly don’t know, and Peter said, “If it’s really You, then invite me to come out on the water.  And Jesus said, ‘Come.’  And then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.”  But then Peter had a problem.  Instead of looking at Jesus, he took his eyes off Jesus, and what happened?  He started to sink.  He looked at the waves, he looked at the white-caps, he looked at all that water and he got afraid.  And so he started to sink.  And when you take your eyes off Jesus Christ, you will not continue riding high.  You will go down.  You’ll get discouraged.  When you put your eyes on people, and you look at some of the people in the church, you get discouraged.  You need to keep your eyes fastened on Jesus Christ.

So Jesus bade him come.  Peter got out of the boat.  He walked across water.  As far as I know, Peter has the world record for being the one and only human being to ever walk on unfrozen water.  Peter’s got that record.  Only because he got out of the boat.  Now I think sometimes we have to get out of our boat before Jesus can accomplish something.  My wife and I went down to Panama.  We were out of our element.  We were out of air-conditioning.  We were out of a cafeteria.  We were out of American food.  We were out of our comfort zone, and yet we got down there.  We baptized people through ShareHim.  It was an awesome experience.  I wish everyone of you could go on one of these ShareHim things, and go down there and preach.  Carol McDonald did it. Carol Harrison did it.  Tricia Foster did it.  I did one.  My wife did one.  You ought to go do one.  I urge you to do that.  Get out of your boat.

Matthew 14, verse 32.  “And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.  Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God’”.  Amazing, isn’t it?

The last time we ever hear of Peter’s boat is over in John 21.  Come over here to John 21, the last chapter of the book of John.  Jesus had risen from the tomb.  He had appeared before the disciples and was ready to return to heaven, but there was a problem.  Peter and the other disciples were still in the fishing business.  They were still fishing at night, sleeping in the daytime, trying to rest up and doing a little bit of work for Jesus, but not much.  They’ve got a bad problem, and so Jesus had to get Peter out of his boat.

Look at verse 1, John 21.  “Afterward Jesus appeared again to His disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way.  Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana of Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together.”  And in verse 3, Peter said, “I'm going to go out and go fishing.”  And he was the leader, and so what did the others do?  They said, “We'll go with you.” So they went out, they got into the boat, and that night, how much did they catch?

Why could they never catch fish?  You know, I think the angels were busy all night long herding the  fish away from Peter’s boat.  Angels, “Come on, get out of here.  Here comes the net.”  All night long.  They didn’t catch one measly sardine or lobster, or whatever is in there. I don’t know what all they have in the bottom of the sea.  Their nets came up empty.  And it was not by accident.  I just imagine the angels were involved, because Jesus wanted them to change occupations.  Jesus wants totally committed followers.  The early church needed people that were a hundred percent dedicated to the cause of Jesus Christ. 

Verse 4.  “Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples didn’t recognize that it was Jesus.”  If they had glasses, this would be different.  And so He called them and He said, ‘Friends, haven't you any fish?’  ‘No, we don’t have any fish.’  He said, ‘Well, throw your net on the right side of the boat.’”  They were left-handed fishers, I guess.  “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.  And when they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.”  They had to get some help.  We know they eventually did get all thosae fish into their boat.  And do you know how many fish it was?  How many?  1 hundred and 53.  That’s right.  So this 1 hundred 53 fish filling up a whole boat, you know that they couldn’t be little dinky fish.  They had to be some pretty good size fish.  I don’t know what size, but Peter’s little boat was overflowing again with God’s miracle.  And now the angels drove and herded the herd of fish, or school of fish, I guess they call them, I’m not a fisherman.  And God could do more in 5 minutes than they could do all night.  Professional fishermen were helpless all night, but God in the morning, in the daylight could perform a miracle. 

And notice now verse 15.  “When they had finished eating.”  What’s the first thing after they get through fishing?  What do they do?  Jesus feeds the disciples.  He wants to preach a sermon to them.  He wants to make an appeal to them, but before the appeal, He fills their stomach before He works on their heart.  Jesus is concerned with our physical needs.  Amen? 

And so, “after they finished eating,  Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you truly love Me more than these?’”  What was the question?  What was He really asking?  Peter’s boat was there.  The fish were there.  The nets were there, and I think Jesus said, “Peter, do you love Me more than these?  Do you love Me more than you love your boat?  Are you willing to follow Me a hundred percent?”  That’s what He was after.  “Do you love Me more than these 1 hundred and 53 world record class fish, these trophies that you have caught?  Are you willing to abandon your career?  To turn your back on your boat and go 1 hundred percent for Me and do My work?  Are you willing to connect with My awesome power?” 

And after three attempts, Peter finally affirmed his deep love for Jesus and his willingness to follow Jesus all the way.  And you know, that’s the last time we hear of Peter’s boat.  No more.  We hear a lot about Peter, but nothing from here on about his boat.  I think he did sell the boat.  I think he did quit the business.  And I think he went full time for God.  And you know, just like John the Baptist had to decrease so that Jesus could increase, that little boat had to decrease so that Peter could increase.  He was not moonlighting.  He was 1 hundred percent for Jesus Christ.  Peter left his most beloved possession that day, to follow Jesus 1 hundred percent.   

And friends, is Jesus first in your life?  Is he?  Are you willing to abandon your favorite interest, your favorite habit, your addiction, or whatever it is, anything that’s standing between you and Jesus?  And that could be the 7 A.M. or 6 A.M. news.  You’d rather be watching the early morning news on T.V. than reading your Bible.  You need to abandon whatever is between you and Jesus, and be willing to leave it so that you can have Jesus in your heart as the captain of your live.

You know, Jesus wants your complete, undivided interest.  Your complete, undivided energy for His cause.  We’re living in the last days.  We’re living at the end of time.  The signs are all around us.  North Korea has the missiles.  We don’t know what the future is, but we do know the ultimate future, don’t we?  And if you align yourself with Jesus Christ and His kingdom, you will not be making a mistake.  You need to put all you eggs in that basket.  In the basket of Jesus Christ. 

Let’s sing our closing hymn.  Others can have the world, but give me Jesus.

Dear Father.  Thank you for the stories of the Bible that mean so much in these last days.  Please be the Captain of our ship.  Help us to be 1 hundred percent committed to Jesus Christ and His truth.  Help us to be 1 hundred percent Seventh-day Adventist Christians in these last days, and may we share Jesus with the world, with our community, our neighbors, our relatives, so that we can soon all go home.  Dismiss us with the joys of Jesus in our life, we pray in His sweet name. Amen.

 Hymn of Praise: #167, Alleluia! Sing to Jesus
Scripture: Matthew 4:18-20
Hymn of Response: #329, Take the World, But Give Me Jesus

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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 4/27/09