Today I want to speak with you about a passage in the Bible. Every now and then we speak on last day events. Every now and then we just open the Bible, and I would like to speak with you about Luke 5:1-11.
The boat was sinking. Peter worked the night shift. Do any of you work the night shift? Peter did and his crew, they all did that. They worked all night long throwing out those wet heavy nets. Fishing. Dragging the net. Lifting it up. Nothing in it. The boat was empty. Each time they would draw the net up there were only weeds or seaweed and rip rap, slime, dirty covered things and sandals and bits and pieces. Nothing. All night long. They were bone tired. They were discouraged. There wasn't one fish in the bottom of the boat. So they just headed back to shore.
They finally got there with their empty boats, and they had to clean the nets. You can't just go home when you've been fishing all night. You've got to clean the nets because fish will not come to a dirty net, because they can see it. When it's dirty they can see it in the water better and they will avoid it, so you have to have a clean net and the only time to clean it is when it's wet, because after it dries out all that stuff gets caked on there and you'll never get it off. So they can't go home. They have to be there. They have to keep working and they're tired. They don't have anything to show for their all night work. So there they are washing the seaweed off of the nets.
Sometimes we get seaweed in our lives. Sometime we get covered. And you know we don't attract very many people when we are covered with the debris of sin, do we? When you get a mean attitude, a mean disposition about you, you're covered with grime and dirt, it's hard to attract.
The net can't clean itself, and neither can we clean ourselves. But the Master Cleaner can take us to the cleaners and clean us up. We can't do good by ourselves, but with Christ, we can do all things. I can be clean. You can be clean through Jesus Christ. I just hope that as we study this story here this morning, the story of the net, that you will examine your life. Let me just ask you, what is your net worth?
Peter's nets must be quickly cleaned. They're tired, and they don't have any trophies to show for their hard nights work and lo and behold there's a crowd there. Every time you have a hard night, every time you have bad luck, there's a crowd there to witness it. They won't come when you get a boatload of fish, but they will always be there when the boat is empty. So they're asking, "Well how'd you do last night? What were you doing, stargazing last night. You didn't catch anything at all." And so they grilled them and asked questions. "No fish for sale? What's the matter?" Every fisherman hopes for a big catch and Peter did not have it.
Well, when you have bad luck, the crowd, what do they do? Do they cheer you on? They usually condemn you. In America, we do that. When we win, they applaud. They give us a standing ovation. When your team wins at the Super Bowl, the crowd will go wild. The losing team, what do they do for them? Well at least they get paid. Peter didn't get paid. Peter needed a boat full of fish.
But let me tell you what Jesus needed. Jesus needed a boat empty of fish. Why did Jesus need that? Because He needed a platform to preach from. Jesus is always trying to do something that we are not. His ways are different than our ways. Peter's boat was more valuable with Jesus in it than with a boatload of fish in it. Would you agree with that? So Peter ended up with the biggest catch.
Let's read this story beginning with verse one. "One day as Jesus was standing by the lake of Genneseret with the people crowding around Him and listening to the Word of God, He saw at the water's edge two boats left there by the fishermen who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then He sat down and taught the people from the boat." Now boats in Palestine in Jesus' day were probably 7 1/2 feet wide and about 25 feet long. Small for a big lake like that. It's actually the sea of Galilee. Jesus chooses one of these boats and gets in. Now you never know when Jesus will step into your life. Did they know that that was going to happen. Did they have the boat all cleaned up and some flowers on it and different things. You never know when Jesus will arrive. By using that boat as a floating pulpit, Jesus took advantage of the acoustic benefit of preaching from a body of water. The people on the shore could hear Him so much better. When He sat down in the boat, remember it says that there in verse 3, that was a sign that any rabbi gave to his audience that when the rabbi sits down, you be quiet because the rabbi is going to preach and you want to listen.
Verse four. "And when He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, 'Put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch.'" Now right here is where Jesus leaves off preaching and begins meddle... begins fishing. Notice. Jesus enters the fishing business by telling Peter how to fish. Would you do that? To an experienced fisherman, to a master fisherman. Notice fishing expert Jesus does not change His clothes. I don't see any record of it, do you? Now what do you make from that? He fishes with the same attire that He preaches with. "What do you make from that, pastor?"
I really think the lesson that I get from this is that Jesus is demonstrating and wants my behavior to be the same when I am working or when I am at my leisure. You don't have to have two sides. We need to be consistent. The Lord looks for that. Don't leave your worldly doodads hanging on the rearview mirror of your car to put on after church. Be the same in church as you are at Taco Bell. Live your religion wherever you are. Right? That's what we're supposed to be.
Let's go to verse five. "Simon answered, 'Master, we worked all night, we haven't caught anything.'" These professional fishermen are kind of talking back to Jesus a little bit. They're tired. They're worn out. They want to go home and go to bed.
God seems to have a habit of doing his best work when we are at our lowest. When we're at our wits end, then and only then, God comes and provides the real miracle that we desperately need. They didn't have anything to show for it. I think of a lot of people that I know. I know a lot of folks that have worked all their lives and they have nothing to show for it. They've lost their house or they don't live in a nice home. Everybody else does. They have nothing to show for it.
What do you do when your boat is empty? Well, do what Jesus told them to do. Launch out again. Try it again. Go into deep water this time. Launch out further than you've ever gone. Your miracle might not happen if you don't go out there where big miracles happen. They don't happen in shallow water. Just don't throw in the towel. Don't turn your back on Jesus. Don't turn your back on His church. Keep trying.
Finally they get their nets clean and ready for the next trip and Jesus said "Cast your clean nets into that dirty, filthy place again. That fishless lake. Throw them in again."
Now everybody knows that you can't catch fish in the daytime with a net. They're going to see it. Fish can easily swim away and they would, and Peter knew that Jesus' idea was not good. You know what Peter's problem was? Now listen. This is amazing. Jesus could see the entire lake, but Peter could only see as far as the bottom of the boat. In your life you can't see what Jesus can see. So don't doubt Jesus. When He leads you to do something, do it. Do it. Peter may have thought, "I'm the fishermen here. My grandpa was a fisherman. My great-grandfather was a fisherman. I know all about fishing. What does this Carpenter turned Preacher know about fishing anyway? My vast experience tells me that the heat of the day is a bad time for fishing. The only thing I will accomplish is getting my nets all dirty again."
And so we throw out excuses. We say, "Lord, I can't do what You want me to do." "I can't move now, Lord. Houses aren't selling. It won't work." "Lord, my marriage is over. I've tried and tried," and the Lord says, "Go into the deep. Launch. Do it again." "My kids are gone over fools hill, Lord. It's too late." "My property won't sell. I give up. I'm going to just turn it in and go bankrupt." "My enemies are horrible, Lord. I can't forgive them." "My taxes are too high. I'm not going to report that money. I can't do that, God." But God says, "You launch into the deep. Go for it." God wants to take us from a shallow faith to deep faith. That's where He wants us.
Now listen to the next word in verse five, the second half of verse five. The King James says "nevertheless." The NIV says, "but, because You say so, I will let the nets down." And so off Peter headed. They hoisted the sail. Went out to the deep water. Now I admire Peter for that. You know the Sea of Galilee is about 700 feet below sea level and the lake is another hundred and 50 feet deep. It is a deep lake. I don't like deep water. I am not comfortable out there in that deep water. I look the boat over every time. "Do I really want to get on this boat?" I'm from Indiana, and I don't swim.
But God often wants us to move out from our comfort zone because it is in the deep water where the big deep miracles happen. We, like Peter, have got to step out in faith. Are you wading in shallow water waiting for a big miracle? Maybe you need to get out into deep water. Out in the deep you can't see the bottom so you have to totally trust the Lord. It's less predictable out there, but that's where God wants you, is out there and He may move you into the deep. But in the deep, God knows that you will find a new meaning in life. The deep water.
The King James is wrong in Luke 5. The NIV and many other versions are correct because it says here that Peter and his men let down their "nets". The King James says "net". The Greek says "nets". It is plural. They let down their nets. They let them all down. If you had cleaned all your nets would you let them all down? "Well Lord, I'll let one of them down." They let them all down. I like that. If you need a miracle then go all the way, do all that God wants you to do and don't hold anything back.
Now Jesus created all the fish in that lake and as Creator Jesus can communicate with His creation. Do you agree? So Jesus communicated with all the large trophy sized fish in the lake of Galilee, said "You meet it this longitude and this latitude down there at that depth of water. You congregate there because I need for you to get into Peter's nets. That's where the nets are going to be," because Jesus knew where the nets would be and knew how to orchestrate all the fish over to that specific spot. Peter's boat headed out there toward that rendezvous point. Thousands of fish were headed that same direction. Assembling. Ready to get into the nets. They all obeyed the call of God. I think sometimes Jesus wishes we were fish, and we could all obey so nice.
Now the fishermen let down their nets into the deep water and way down there in the bottom the fish piled into the nets. The fishermen up on top did not know that the nets were full. You can't see that deep. You can't see all the way down there. You don't know. The miracle already took place and they didn't even know it. Not until they drew those nets up closer. They said, "Something is in there. Those nets are full. Help! We need help!" Only then did they realize that the miracle had taken place. God had already done the miracle and the text in Ephesians says, "God will do exceedingly abundantly above all that I ask or think." We need to claim these promises.
Now the goal of Peter that day was to do what? To catch fish. The goal of Jesus was to catch Peter. So there's a big difference here. So often we focus on physical stuff and Jesus is focused on spiritual things. We focus on our retirement IRA. God focuses on our ultimate retirement. I like God's focus better than my focus. Jesus' purposes are much higher than my purposes. That day the Savior hooked a big mouth... fisherman. I think Peter had a big mouth.
Why did Jesus choose Peter? The crowds were there. There were people that Jesus had been preaching to. There were hundreds, if not thousands of people there. Why didn't Jesus choose one of the crowd? Why did He choose a fisherman? Surely there were people in that crowd who could've done a great job of being a disciple. I think the reason He chose the fisherman is because God wants workers and not spectators. The crowd came as curiosity seekers. They came maybe for free lunch. They came as spectators. The fishermen are workers. That's what God wants.
Well, reluctant Peter finally did cast out. I want to read you how the Bible pictures what happened in verse 6 and 7. "When they had done this, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes and their net began to break and they beckoned unto their partners which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them and they came and they filled both the ships so that they began to" what? "Sink."
Now I'm not Albert Einstein. Nobody has ever accused me of being Albert Einstein, but let me ask you a question. If your boat is just barely above water level, would you keep throwing more fish into the thing? Isn't that a little bit strange? Would you do that? Why not throw the rest of the fish back? Let them have their freedom. You've got enough, why keep throwing more in?
You know some people are like Peter. I was down here getting gas in Ooltewah, filling up my van. It holds 25 gallons. As I put in my 22 or 23 gallons that day, I pulled up, I put the fuel nozzle into my gas tank and got it going and then I looked over at the man next to me and his just clicked off. He had just finished filling his tank, and it clicked off. I thought, "Well, he'll be on his way." But I noticed he turned it on again and got a little bit more in, then it clicked off again. Then he did it again, it clicked off again. The whole time I was filling my van he's over there getting one more drop. Click. Click. Another drop. Click. The whole time. Finally about the time it came time for me to leave, he left. Maybe his name was Peter. I've known Peter like folk. The pan on their stove is constantly boiling over because they put too much stuff in there. The pies in the oven are always boiling over and creating such a royal mess. The bathtub is full to the brim. I had a deacon who was like Peter one time. Filled the baptistery. Get as much into it as you can. I noticed when I got in it was right up to the glass, and when the rather large lady that I was baptizing got in, it went over and we had a water fall right into the choir. It was wonderful.
But you know, Jesus likes those type of people. Jesus chose Peter. They put their all into everything they do and miraculously their boat does not sink. It didn't sink. Luke 5:8. "When Simon Peter saw this he fell at Jesus' feet and said, 'Go away from me Lord. I am a sinful man.'" You know the word 'Lord' refers to God. Right here Peter is saying, "You are actually God. God is in my boat." He recognized that. Only God could have done that miracle. It was a true miracle. Now Peter knew beyond a doubt that Jesus was God.
Don't ever compare yourself with God. You might say, "You know, I'm pretty good. My life is pretty special. I've lived a good clean life. I could almost be saved on my own works here." Don't ever compare yourself with God. Peter realized that you can't do that. John in Revelation 1:17 said, "When I saw Him I fell on my face as though dead." Peter saw his insignificance as a sinner and never, never think that you are about to be as good as God.
Luke 5:9,10, "He and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken," and so were James and John the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners. Verse 10. "Jesus said unto Simon Peter, 'Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch'" what? "'You will catch men.'" Peter's whole career was bringing fish from life to death. He was a fish killer. And now it's 180° in the opposite direction. Now his career is going to be bringing men from death to life. A whole change. A drastic change.
You know we're called to be fishers of men. We catch them and Jesus cleans them. You're not responsible for cleaning those fish. In verse 11, finally he's ready to leave all. Finally he's ready to follow Jesus and this is the type of faith that makes Peter one of the greatest disciples. What a man this man was. You know, fishermen need to fish. When church members don't fish they stink like dead fish. They began to do inbreeding. They begin to pick on each other and they're nitpickers.
We need to be working for the Lord. A church that is working for Jesus is a church that is more trouble-free than a church that is not doing anything for the Lord. So don't be wishing instead of fishing. Get out there and actually do. Don't be sitting in the shallows of an empty boat playing with the minnows, wishing that you were actually having a deeper experience. Get out and have a deeper experience.
What a fish story Peter could tell now. Even more than the catch of his dreams he had caught the Messiah. He had Jesus. Until you have Jesus you haven't really had the ultimate catch. To get Jesus is the ultimate. The true Messiah. Now without a doubt, he knew that Jesus was God. He would work for God.
Notice that the trophy fish did not jump into Peter's boat. He had to go out there for his miracle. You have to work for your miracle. When we as a church work for the Lord, we will catch fish. Let me tell you that the fish are worth having. Souls. We as a church are not running a catch and release operation here. We are trying to keep what we catch. We don't want them to go out the back door. We don't want you to go out the back door. One of the greatest commandments that Jesus ever had was Matthew 28:19. The next to last verse of Matthew where He said go and make disciples of all nations.
So here's my conclusion. I want you to do something. Any sermon that leaves you without, "Well, what does he want me to do?" Well let me be very clear. Here's exactly what I want you to do. We are in the second decade of the two thousands. This is 2010. At the beginning of this year, I want you to go and fish for men. Here's what I want you to do. I want you to launch out into the deep for Jesus this year. Specifically, I want you to go on a mission trip this year. I think the last couple of years we've averaged a hundred people that have gone on mission trips from this church each year. We need to increase that. I wish it could be two or 300. You're going to take a vacation this year. Do something for Jesus. Sign up for a mission trip. Sign up for a Share Him meeting. Get on your computer, click on it, decide where you want to go and do it. Book a Maranatha trip this spring or this summer and get out and build a church. Go build a church in India. Go do something for the Lord. Well, you think "Well I can't go. I don't have the money." Then give a Bible study with your neighbor. Invite your neighbor to come over and eat supper with you. Get their feet under your table and share Jesus with them. Catch people this year. Do something for the Lord this year. Something specific. Something that will bring in a trophy sized fish. Be willing to go where God wants you to go.
Hymn of Praise: #2, All Creatures of Our God and King Scripture: Luke 5:4-6 Hymn of Response: #573, I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go Sermon Notes: Sermon notes available as PDF
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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 2/10/10