Luke 5:1-11 NIV
1 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, as the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God.
The Greek opening word in this chapter means ‘to become’ or to ‘come into existence’ and is translated in older English editions of the bible as ‘It came to pass’. Luke is inviting us into a significant story in the life of Jesus and his ministry – a ‘happening’ or a coming into existence story. Other translations, like the NIV above translate it as ‘One day’ which has more of a reporting feel to it or even a, ’once upon a time’ mythical feel. All are correct enough. There is a sense of a mythical moment for the reader and for the church and its story, our faith history, and also a real and palpable sense that something new is coming into existence.
Imagine yourself at a theatre production:
Act 1. Jesus and the crowd enter the stage to sounds of water lapping on the shore. The background music provokes a sense of something magnificent about to happen. It creates a tension in the air that anticipates ……… something …….. as yet ……. undefined. If you ever watched the Rock Horror Picture Show, you may remember it as ‘antici ………………………… pation’. It’s an exciting mood Luke is setting and one of Godly possibility.
Remember Jesus has been moving through Galilee ‘in the power of the Spirit.’
The words, ‘crowding around him’ are more accurately represented as ‘pressing against him’. What a marvellous phrase. The people are hungry to be taught, full of need to be healed and saved and relieved of the stress and struggle of daily living. Matthew 11:12 says that energetic people are pressing their way into God’s Kingdom. Perhaps this story of Luke’s is a demonstration of the energy of great desire that presses, even forces its way into the deep heart and presence of Jesus?
For Your Consideration: If this is so, and I believe it is, then there is something important to say about any false sense of unworthiness we may have about ourselves in relation to God. Of course, in and of ourselves alone, we know that once we were not worthy, but because of Jesus, the Father now calls us his sons and daughters. Because of Jesus we are most worthy. So, now would be the time to abandon false piety, the false image of ourselves and embrace and kiss the Son who has set us free to ‘be’ and to ‘become’ our true self. That’s a life time journey but the sooner we start the more our life will become experiences of God; full and rich and exciting and meaningful. Press in! All of us at every age. No one is too young and no one is too old. Press in!
2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets.
Again, Luke builds a sense of suspense for something that is ‘becoming’. The Greek N.T. talks of the boats being moored by the water’s edge. The word used for ‘moored’ is a difficult word to translate as it is in the active form rather than the passive. One would think that a boat that is just sitting there is ‘passive’. Perhaps the water was rocking the boats gently and there is a picture of movement that Luke is wanting to convey or perhaps, or as well, this is Luke’s way of saying that even the water and the boats have a place in Jesus’ ‘becoming story’. Even creation is waiting in anticipation. St. Paul says this is the case (Romans 8:9).
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.
God is always willing to teach and so, feed our soul – our true self. And in the feeding, heal and grow our inner life – our true self. And in the healing and growing, draw us into that Christ filled space, where heaven and earth meet; where our true self can be discovered.
NOTE: See last week’s notes about that seed shaped space – the Mandorla – where Jesus is revealed as fully God (Heaven) and fully human (Earth). That space where intimacy is so deep and so profoundly authentic that we find ourselves in him and he in us. (John 17:21)
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.”
Simon only just met Jesus back in Luke 4. He went to Simon’s house where his mother in-law had been suffering with a high fever. Jesus, not to waste time or beat about the bush, ‘rebuked the fever’ and it left. Simon has reason to be thankful to this man that he’s just met. Thankful to this itinerant teacher and healer and if only for the sake of good manners and respect he obliges Jesus and puts out into deeper water.
Point of Interest: Jesus ‘rebuked’ her fever. No long imploring prayers; no beseeching. No wringing of hands. He forcefully spoke to the disease and/or what ever was the cause of it and ‘told it off’. ‘How dare you take liberties with my sister, with the Father’s daughter! On your way, NOW!’
Just a thought: If Jesus is in us and we are in him, and that’s where our true and divine self is to be found, maybe we could consider the power and confidence that God is offering us, in Christ, when we pray for others.
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.
Remember Luke’s set up at the beginning of this chapter? The impending sense of ‘becoming’ and the boats eager in their moorings to be a part of the story? Here it comes. Luke hardly mentions Jesus teaching the crowd, he goes rapidly to this miracle of abundance, bypassing words and going to the picture that paints a thousand. We call it a miracle, God calls it a day at the office. God’s abundance seems so thrilling and other worldly to us, but His ‘daily bread’ exceeds anything we could possibly expect or imagine.
There is also an image of the body of Christ at work here for these soon to be fishers of people. The catch is so overwhelmingly huge that no thought is given over to ‘ownership’ here. They call others to partner with them in the haul. To much work for just a few, too much blessing.
Q Do you think of ‘church work’ as blessings? If not, perhaps you’ve been on the ‘roster’ but not in the boat. In the boat, work can still feel like work at times, but the blessings so outweigh the effort as to make the work an ancient memory within moments. There is plenty of space left, get on the boat. Why not, what have you got to lose?
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.
Elsewhere I have taught on the phrase from the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6 and Luke 11), ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ The word ‘daily’ certainly means food and supply of all our daily needs but it also means a ‘super-substantial’ supply. St. Augustin connected this word to Holy Communion where we meet Jesus face to face in flesh and blood. It is Jesus promise to meet all of our needs and all of our Godly desires according to his will – super-substantially. For Simon, the catch of fish is evidence that this teacher is in God’s good books and certainly a person to be respected as ‘Lord’ or master. Even feared. A teacher this obviously close to God is no ordinary man and exercises no ordinary power.
We are so familiar with this account of Jesus calling his first disciples that we may have lost the awe of this moment of ‘becoming’. These fishermen becoming disciples of the greatest teacher ever. The early becoming of the church in these men. The beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ (Mark 1). The beginning of a heart of worship in Peter, and his spiritual descendants, as he ‘fell at Jesus knees’.
Point of Interest: Simon’s immediate response to this miracle is to fall in reverence at Jesus knees and confess his own sinfulness. The Greek word for ‘sinful’ here, is a man who ‘misses the mark’, who fails to hit the targets God has set for a healthy life and ‘Kingdom’ participation and productivity. A man who is constantly missing God’s point about most things in life.
Notice, no one, least of all Jesus, holds the Law of God up to Simon’s face. Jesus does not point out Simon’s faults and demand repentance. Jesus simply reveals his glory in generosity and Simon ‘fesses’ up. It seems that face to face with the glorious grace of God, his soul surrendered.
Q Can you surrender too? Is there any thing in the way? Maybe there is a great haul of blessing to be dragged aboard but you need help from your partners in the faith. Ask a Christian friend to talk with you about your resistance. Pray together and invite the Spirit of Jesus to set you free.
Don’t be afraid! 😊
Make use of Living Faith Lutheran’s Healing ministry or find one near by.
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.
There is some thing about Jesus that requires him to regularly tell his disciples to not be afraid. When he acts in his glory to protect, defend and supply his people, in that super-substantial way that he has about him, those around him fall in awe and wonder, and in fear of the immediate vicinity of Holy God.
This is the power of the Spirit at work. To be with Jesus in his daily work is to become inspired by the Spirit and filled with the awe of Holy God, to the point that everything of this world – it’s temptations and lustful desires, it’s shinny things and our need to own and possess, our jobs and financial security – they all just disappear.
- As a church that is rediscovering our place in His mission field, and as we engage in friendships for friendships sake, we may wonder how Jesus will be an influence through us?
- How will he create a great haul of faith within us and a great haul of saving work as he partners with us?
- What is this ‘mission mindset’ pastor and others keep talking about?
Leave the old boats behind. Get in the boat with Jesus so that you can, full of faith and hope and love, live worthy of the New Life given to us. The life into which we are daily ‘becoming’ our true self.
These sensible, practical working men dropped tools and … left everything and followed him.