Summary: Luke paints the scene so as to make one imagine a typical seashore . . . sand gleaming in the sun . . . water dark blue against a lighter sky . . . two fishing boats drawn up, with sails down and wrapped . . . men on shore, moving tiredly about, repairing
LAUNCH OUT INTO THE DEEP
SCRIPTURE: Luke 5:1-7
Luke paints the scene so as to make one imagine a typical seashore . . . sand gleaming in the sun . . . water dark blue against a lighter sky . . . two fishing boats drawn up, with sails down and wrapped . . . men on shore, moving tiredly about, repairing nets.
There is a crowd of people pressing so near that the Master stands at the water line.
The Lord solved His problem by using Simon’s boat as a pulpit. This separated Him from the people, placing Him high so all could see. With water and wind behind Him, an amphitheater effect was created, thus carrying His voice to the far side of the crowd.
In all likelihood the fishermen themselves paused to listen. We do not know the subject of that day’s teaching; but once He had finished, Jesus quietly turned to the fishermen and said, "Launch out into the deep."
Fascinating words . . . those. They have been quoted often, preached on, used for inspiration under varying circumstances. Nonetheless, let us note truths from them once again.
GOD NEVER GIVES FOOLISH COMMANDS
Jesus said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch" (New King James Version).
This is a command that may have sounded foolish indeed to a fisherman who had toiled all night. Simon was the expert. He was the fisherman; Jesus of Nazareth was a carpenter.
Not only was Simon the fisherman but we have every reason to believe he was a very skilled fisherman. We know for sure that he had been raised on the Sea of Galilee and that he knew those waters as few other men. Simon knew and understood fish. He knew their habits, their spawning beds, their likely feeding places.
More pressing, in light of this drama, Simon understood that there were times when fishermen did not catch fish. He was tired. He had fished all night and had caught nothing.
The command seemed so foolish to him that even when Luke recorded the incident years later, he noted that Simon made excuses. "Master," he said, "we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing" (v.5).
Is not the lesson obvious? How easily we determine that God’s commands are foolish, irrational, without meaning. We may not say so, but deep in our hearts, we begin to doubt-concluding that the Master really does not understand the situation.
WE HUMANS ARE PRONE TO MAKE EXCUSES.
It seems to be our nature to make excuses. We see from the human perspective, from the limited horizon, from the natural point of view; and so, like Simon, we presumptuously tell the Master just what the facts are.
Simon was saying, "Lord, we’ve been out there all night. There are no fish in those waters. We have already tried. Our muscles ache. We are tired. Besides, Lord, the sun is well up. Fishing Is always poor during the heat of the day. If you can’t catch fish during the night, especially during the early morning hours when they come near the surface for feeding, then surely you can’t catch them now.
We too have our litany of excuses. We put forth our human efforts and then say, "Lord, I tried." We look at the places where others have tried unsuccessfully and we conclude, "There are no souls to be saved in that burned-out area." We have tried that before; it didn’t work. He was once a member of the church, but he didn’t last. On and on we go . . . human reactions . . . faithless answers . . comments and attitudes which fail to take into consideration the person of Jesus Christ.
On another occasion Jesus told the disciples to find food for the multitude (Luke 9: 13-16). They had similar excuses:
"Lord, they are too many. We have but a few loaves and fishes. It would take a great deal of money and we have but little." The bright spot in this story, of course, lies in the fact that Simon Peter’s faith follows on the very heels of his doubt. Simon’s faith may have been small but there was something there, a lesson to each of us today.
FAITH REMAINS A POSSIBILITY
It is difficult to explain, this matter of faith-where it comes from, how it comes, just precisely when it comes to us. The Apostle Paul understood that faith is a mysterious mixture of that which is human and that which is divine when he spoke of saving faith:
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8, 9).