Last week we studied about the first encounter that Jesus had right after He was baptized. The Spirit of God led Him into the desert to pray and to fast for His future ministry. The devil came to tempt Jesus at that time. Jesus would overcome every temptation that the devil would throw at Him. That was in Matthew 4.
This is what we read after that encounter:
17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. 21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. 22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
Jesus began to preach to start His ministry. He was preaching that the kingdom of heaven was at hand. A similar message that we should be preaching today. Jesus really is soon to come! Signs all foretell and are fast fulfilling, pointing us to that great day.
And after His preaching, He calls His first disciples. He called Simon Peter and his brother Andrew. And then He calls James and John, brothers as well. All of them fishermen. Jesus’ first call is to 4 men and all fishermen. Here in Matthew we are given just a brief encounter of this call. Let’s go to Luke to give us a more detailed encounter. First I want to show you that this is the same story by showing you the conclusion:
- Luke 5:10-11
10 And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. 11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.
- James and John, the 2 brothers, who were called after Peter and Andrew were actually partners together in fishing with Peter and his brother. They all worked together. Matthew seems to indicate that Peter and the brother were called, and then James and John. But we see here all came together at the same time.
But now, let’s go back to the beginning of Luke 5. What can we learn from Jesus’ encounter here with His first disciples in their call to becoming fishers of men?
- Luke 5:1-2
1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.
- Jesus was preaching. He had only been a short time in ministry sharing the word of God and calling people to repent because the kingdom of God was at hand. But yet there were many people that would flock to hear this mighty preacher who spake like no other man had spoken before. His presentations were captivating, they thrilled the hearts of those that listened, and it brought many to the point of true repentance and revival. People were hungry for the truth! They were pressing right up to Jesus that He could hardly speak to the whole crowd. So what did He do?
- Luke 5:3
And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.
- Jesus got into the ship that Simon Peter was in. And not only that, He asked Peter to push away from the shore a little so He would not be crowded upon so that people could hear Him preach!
Peter was helping the gospel cause just by letting Jesus into his boat so that Christ could teach all the people.
- At the beginning, Jesus doesn’t ask us to give a Bible study. Maybe today He’s just asking you to open your home – to provide a place of gathering, or maybe just to cook. He might not be calling you to be a teacher of the Bible immediately. But there is other work that we can get involved in, in helping the gospel spread to others that is just as important as the preaching itself.
- If Jesus had not come on to the boat, the effectiveness of Christ’s preaching may have been halved, or maybe he could have only ministered to 25% of the people present since people were pressing up on Him. Sometimes we don’t understand how important it is to just be hospitable. To allow people in your homes. Peter allowed Jesus onto his ship, and from there he obtained a privilege that only 11 other men have ever had the privilege of experiencing. Learning from the Son of God for 3.5 years!
- How many blessings we might miss just from closing our doors. It’s tempting to do that sometimes isn’t it? I mean, it’s more work. People might mess up your home. So here’s the key, we got to live within a certain set of means, buying a certain grade of furniture, plates, cutlery, etc… in which we don’t mind people coming in every week and possibly ruining it, or it wearing out. Maybe sometimes our homes are TOO NICE, that we are afraid to let people in!
- Hospitality is the key lesson here.
Let’s continue. What happens after Jesus is done with His preaching?
- Luke 5:4
Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.
- Jesus asks Peter to launch out into the deep, and let his net down for a catch. It’s almost as if Jesus wants to reward him for the favour that he had shown to Christ for letting Him preach more effectively.
- You know what friends? Christ always wants to bless us. Especially when we are workers for Him in His cause. He wants to not only make us a blessing to others, but He wants to bless us! That’s the Abrahamic covenant back in Genesis 12 when God said to Abraham:
- Gen 12:2
And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
- I want to bless you so that you can be a blessing to others. In the case of Peter though, he had already been a blessing to Christ and to the gospel, now Christ wanted to return the favour it seemed. Launch out to the deep and let your net down for a catch!
How does Peter reply?
- You’d be expecting a positive reply right? Yes, let’s do it Jesus! SURE! CAN’T WAIT! I mean afterall this is the Saviour we’re talking about! But what does Peter say?
- Luke 5:5
And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.
- Simon began to give reasons as why not to follow the instructions of Jesus. They had worked all night and hadn’t caught anything. And furthermore, they were washing their nets already when Jesus got into their boats. That’s what verse 2 said. Meaning, they were probably ready to go home by the time Jesus was done preaching!
- From all human reasoning and LOGIC, the request that Jesus made just seemed contrary to good advice on fishing. We worked all night and caught nothing. We’re done with washing nets. And Jesus, you’re not even a fisherman!
- What was the occupation of Jesus? He was a carpenter. OK, it’s not that He wouldn’t know anything about fishing at all. Maybe His dad Joseph taught Him. But Jesus certainly didn’t have the experience of years like what Peter had – a tried and true fisherman!
- And then on top of that, the best time to go fishing was at night. Peter and his brother and friends had toiled all night! During the day, the fish would not be attracted to the surface. Especially if they saw a net. A fishing rod would have been different. Thin line with a little bait at the end of it. But you can’t feed your family with a fishing rod as a fisherman, you need a net – something that would make the fish swim away from during the day when they see it thrown into the water.
- So we can probably understand the reluctance of Peter. Jesus, we’ve been working all night and caught nothing! Absolutely nothing. There was reason enough to not listen to the advice of what Jesus said.
- However, Peter didn’t stop there. What else did he say? “Nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.”
NEVERTHELESS! Do you know what the word nevertheless implies? MOREOVER, BUUUT! You see, Peter presented LOGIC! It’s during the day. We caught nothing all night! We’re done washing our nets! And you’re just a carpenter. That single word showed that even though Peter didn’t agree, he would do it anyways. Even though he was doubtful, he would give it a try. He would test the word of Jesus. Out of respect for Him as a teacher. Certainly One that seemed to possess the power that no other preacher had before! At your word, we will let down our nets. Even though Peter was doubtful, he still went ahead and obeyed.
We learn a really important lesson on faith here. Even though there was doubt in Peter’s response, he himself didn’t allow that doubt to test the validity and power of God’s word.
- You know, sometimes we sell ourselves short of a miracle. We present all the facts, all the evidence why something couldn’t work. And then we stop right there without trying, without testing, without stepping out in faith. We sometimes just don’t give Jesus a chance! We let doubt and LOGIC get the better of us.
But what happened?
- Luke 5:6-7
6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.
- They caught so much fish, that the net broke! And not only that! The ships were both filled with so much fish that they began to sink. This was a catch of a lifetime! Look – you’re an experienced fisherman. You’ve been on these waters for a long time. You would know what sort of boat you need for the catch that you have. But this catch, it was so much both ships began to sink!
Why did Jesus reward Peter’s weak faith? He was so doubtful. He seemed to just do it out of respect, not even believing.
- But you see, Peter must have believed some what! There must have been a little faith there. If there wasn’t, he would not have thrown the net overboard. If he didn’t believe a word of Jesus he would not have even pushed out from the land. They had to get deep enough to throw their nets down. There really was time for Peter to think.
- This didn’t happen in a split second you know. Peter throw you net down for a catch, a haul. Peter says his line and then says OK, I’ll give it a try. And then the fish are caught.
- That’s not what happened. Jesus had to tell Peter to push out into the deep. They would have had to row out. And then prepare the net to throw in the proper way so it wouldn’t be tangled. All this while, there was time to back out.
- But Peter’s faith brought before his eyes a miracle. Something so amazing that he had never experienced such a thing in all his life as a fisherman! A catch so large that their nets broke and 2 boats began to sink!
- This really illustrates the importance of trying. The importance of testing the word of God. Even though what Jesus said to Peter was a command, it really became a promise! The word was self-fulfilling! But the promise needed the cooperation of faith and works on the part of Peter. But remember, it wasn’t because Peter was some amazing fisherman that he caught such a large haul of fish. It was because of God’s word alone.
- You know, any blessing that we receive as a result of the word of God, is not ours to claim the glory. All we do is believe and try. All the sufficiency is tied up in the word of God.
But at this point, what does Peter do? After he sees this great catch and their boats beginning to sink. How does Peter respond?
- Luke 5:8-9
8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:
- Why did he say that? Depart from me, for I am a sinful man!
- It was at this point that he realizes that God still blessed him with this abundance of fish even though he had doubt in his heart and mind. God was still gracious and merciful to bless Peter even though he didn’t complete 100% believe. He knew that he didn’t deserve this blessing that Christ was granting him. But he was rewarded because of the “nevertheless.” He still applied the word of God even though he didn’t have a strong faith.
You know God still wants us to test him.
- Psalms 34:8
O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
- He asks us to taste, to try, to test!
- 1 Thessalonians 5:21
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
- God asks us to prove all things, test all things!
- Don’t stop short of the testing Him. Sure, you may reason out how things could possibly work out, how could we even catch one fish even though I caught nothing the whole night. But it doesn’t matter. Tell yourself – NEVERTHELESS! It doesn’t matter what I know. It doesn’t matter how I feel. It doesn’t matter. Out of respect, out of love, whatever, JUST TRY!
Even though they had caught such a big catch, the catch of a lifetime, probably enough fish to feed both families for a few months or maybe even half a year, there was still one more test. When they get to shore, Jesus gives them all the ultimate test.
- Luke 5:10
And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.
- Here was the decision they would have to make. Looking at all that fish in the boat, the catch of a lifetime, dollar symbols flashing in their minds, all the toys they could buy. Now they could buy the house they needed, or add on an extra room, or buy a BIGGER BOAT to get MORE MONEY!!
- And then there stood that poor carpenter who gave them that catch of a lifetime. And Jesus is asking them to drop it all and follow Him. And you know what? They did it immediately.
- There would have been temptation to ask Jesus to wait. Let us sell all the fish first! Let us say bye to our families.
- No, they just dropped it all. This is what Mark records of what James and John left behind.
- Mark 1:20
And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.
- They even left their father there in the boat with the servants. They didn’t help to clean up.
- You know if we want to follow Jesus, we need to make that decision and then put it into action right away. We shouldn’t linger. Why? Because the longer we wait, the harder it gets. More excuses come up and we find reasons not to forsake everything. But with the miracle fresh in their minds, the made the choice and put it into action straight away.
- Some people might call this an emotional decision. You know, you go to a youth conference and you come back wanting to serve God. People think you’ve lost your mind. Your parents think you’re brain washed or you’ve been coerced into serving God.
- Friends, you can never go wrong serving Jesus. You can never go wrong choosing to study the Bible and serve God. You may give up time to go and study the Bible, and you may not come out a minister. But that time is never lost. It will always result in a blessing. God will always reward your faith.
Christ had already proven to Peter, Andrew, James and John that He would take care of them.
- Has he done that for you yet? Have you trusted Him with your whole life? Have you proved Christ and tested His promises and His word? Have you tasted of His goodness?
- Maybe there are some that have heard the call of Jesus many years ago, but you’ve let that decision linger and as a result, the cares of this world has choked out the good seed. It’s not too late if you want to follow Jesus all the way.
- Christ says – TODAY if you hear my voice, harden not your hearts. It may mean that you will have to sacrifice some things in life, some creature comforts. But God will take care of you. But Jesus is waiting for you to make that decision today. It’s a step of faith. But one that cannot go wrong if you choose Jesus and you truly leave everything behind and surrender it to Him.
We’ve been online for most of this year already.
- And next year we don’t know what will happen with Covid, but you can make decisions today for Christ.
- Just want to share with you in closing what we are planning next year:
- SALT is starting in April next year. We don’t know still at this point how it will be run, but we’re going ahead with those dates. So we have more time at the beginning of the year.
- So in Jan 2021, we are going to have an online class. CONVERSION AND RIGHTEOUSNESS BY FAITH. I will be teaching that class. It’s my favorite class to teach out of all the SALT classes. AND if you can’t make it in Jan, we have Daniel online in Feb. And then we will be running one more ONLINE class – HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE in March.
- We aren’t planning to make all of SALT online for 2021. We are still planning to have it in-person starting April. Why should you still come to the in-person training? Because some need to pull away from their familiar environment. And there are some that sign up to the online class, don’t attend every class, but still think it a virtue to having paid for a Bible class but not finish it. There’s no righteousness in that friends.
- But you got to make Jesus the priority. Let’s choose Him today. Let’s be willing to test Him and prove Him.