Do What He Tells You

Luke 5:1-11

One day Jesus was standing beside Lake Gennesaret when the crowd pressed in around him to hear God’s word. Jesus saw two boats sitting by the lake. The fishermen had gone ashore and were washing their nets. Jesus boarded one of the boats, the one that belonged to Simon, then asked him to row out a little distance from the shore. Jesus sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he finished speaking to the crowds, he said to Simon, “Row out farther, into the deep water, and drop your nets for a catch.

Simon replied, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing. But because you say so, I’ll drop the nets.” So they dropped the nets and their catch was so huge that their nets were splitting. They signaled for their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They filled both boats so full that they were about to sink. When Simon Peter saw the catch, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Leave me, Lord, for I’m a sinner!” Peter and those with him were overcome with amazement because of the number of fish they caught. 1James and John, Zebedee’s sons, were Simon’s partners and they were amazed too.

Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on, you will be fishing for people.” 1As soon as they brought the boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Jesus. (CEB)

Jesus was enormously popular. Even though the people turned on him in the final moments of his teaching in Nazareth, Jesus walked away unscathed and now we find him in Gennesaret taking a walk by the seaside. He was not preaching or teaching  that we can tell. He was just beside the sea. And the people found him there and pressed around him to hear him speak. So of course he obliged them and the people pressed around him even more. Finally it was too much and he got into Simon’s boat and asked to be rowed out a little ways so the people had to stay back. It worked much better and when he was finished speaking, he didn’t ask to be rowed back to shore. No. He told Simon to take his nets out and drop them. 

That’s a bold thing for a carpenter to say to a professional fisherman! Especially when he is tired and disgusted from having worked all night and not caught anything. That was the case for Simon. They were tending their nets after being skunked overnight. You see, fishermen in that era worked with large three sectioned nets that were weighted with stones on the bottom and had cork floats attached to the top. At dusk the fishermen would row out to where the shore dropped off to the deep water, lower the nets then quietly row back to shore. Once there, they would turn and start making a terrible racket. The fish would be startled and would swim away from the noise, straight into the nets. They would then haul in the nets, empty the nets into the hold and go out and do it all again. Sometimes they would do this up to ten times a night. It was exhausting work. And then once it got too light to fish, they had to clean and repair their nets to be ready to do it all over again the next night.

But Simon did what Jesus told him to do. Why would he do such a thing? All fishermen knew once the day dawned the fish could see the net and would swim around it rather than swim into it. It was sheer madness to put down the net in the daylight. That was wasted effort, as far as they were concerned. So why would Simon put out his net as Jesus told him to? Read on.

Last week we read Luke 4:16-30, but there are 44 verses in Luke 4. What happens between Luke 4:31 and Luke 4:44? A lot, that’s what. After Jesus walked away from the crowd at the top of the hill he went to the synagogue in Capernaum and healed the man with an unclean spirit (v31-37), then he went to Simon’s house and healed Simon’s mother-in-law (v 38-39), then after the sun set and the Sabbath was over the whole town brought people to Jesus to be cured of their diseases (v 40-41). At daybreak he went off to pray (Luke 4:42)  Then he left town to preach in Judea even though the people begged him to stay (v 43 & 44).

So if Jesus had healed my mother-in-law, I might be so grateful that I would put my nets out in the middle of the day if Jesus told me to. Some people read “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing. But because you say so, I’ll drop the nets.” as sarcastic. As sort of a “Why should I?” kind of statement, but I don’t think that makes sense. Simon calls Jesus “Master” in verse 5 when he is protesting that Jesus’s command makes no sense. It is a sign of respect, but not worship. Just three short verses later, in verse 8, Simon calls Jesus “Lord” after they had brought in the largest catch of their lives in conditions that shouldn’t have brought in any at all. Simon knelt down at Jesus’s knees and worshipped him. 

Sometimes discipleship takes time. One would think after the miraculous healing of his mother in law, Peter would be ready to worship Jesus, but no. It wasn’t until after the second miracle he called him Lord. This brings me comfort. I am not under pressure to be perfect or get it ‘right’ from the beginning. It is OK to be in process. We are all doing the best we can, for the most part. So be gentle with yourself. And hear Jesus’s words, “Do not be afraid.” 

So where are you on the journey of discipleship? At the ‘master’ stage, showing respect but not quite ready to worship? Do you worship Jesus the Christ and see miracles? Are you somewhere in between? 

Wherever you are, hear Jesus’s words, “Do not fear.” Jesus knows what you need and he knows what to do.

blessings to you,

Pastor Karla 

Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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Published by: Pastor Karla

I am a pastor and a retired Navy Chaplain who believes following Jesus in compassion, service and gratitude is the very best kind of doctrine. God is present in the world in the Spirit and in the church as the body of Christ. I am a One on the enneagram who lives to find the balance between having my 'to do list' all crossed off at the end of the day and being spontaneous in the moment. Biblical literacy is important to me, and I want to make the meaning of the Bible and its stories less of a mystery to the average person so the love of God comes through to them clearly. You can contact me at karla.seyb.stockton@me.com. blessings to you, Pastor Karla

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