Sunday, February 8, 2015, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “He Touched My Mouth.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 5:1-11 (NIV).
Out Into Deep Water
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were 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 shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
Some people like to paint the Christian life as all fun and games. They think the meetings of the church, which now targets the unsaved of the world, too, should be entertaining, fun, comfortable, non-threatening and appealing to the unsaved world. They avoid words such as sin, repentance, obedience, judgment and hell. They teach that coming to Christ is merely saying a prayer or just asking for forgiveness, but they leave out the part that requires that we die with Christ to sin and that we walk in purity and righteousness in the strength of the Lord, and empowered by the Spirit. They teach that God is pleased with us no matter what we do, and so people get the idea that they can have the hope of heaven and still live like they did before, except maybe some things might change. This type of teaching gives free license to continue in willful sin. The Word of God, though, does not.
When I think of Jesus saying to Peter, “Put out into deep water,” I can’t help but see a spiritual parallel to this story, especially since this story ends with a spiritual parallel. Ultimately Peter and the other disciples were being called to fish for humans, in the sense that they were to share the gospel of Jesus Christ so that people could come to true faith in Jesus Christ. So, if we think of fishing in these terms, what would it mean if Jesus told us to “put out into deep water”?
Symbolically speaking, deep water can mean a difficult or hard-to-handle situation. Deep water can also involve hardship, distress or trouble. As well, the word “deep” can mean well below surface level, serious, complex or profound. When we think “surface level,” what comes to mind? I think of those who are shallow, pretentious or superficial or those who choose to deal with life at an external level only because they don’t want to get too serious or because they like life to be about just having a good time. So, they don’t really dig deep down into thinking or talking about or considering serious matters of the heart and conscience. As well, they don’t want to think or talk about sin, repentance or obedience, because they want to keep things light and fluffy so that no one is offended.
Spiritually speaking, though, when Jesus sends us out into the world to make disciples of Christ of people of all nations, and he sends us out as sheep among wolves to be his light in the darkness, and to call people to repentance, so that people can be set free of their prisons of sin, he is sending us out into deep water. This is not light and fluffy stuff. This is not surface level stuff he is sending us out to share. He is asking us to tell people about sin, judgment and hell as well as to tell them about salvation, freedom and heaven. And, we will not be liked and even hated because we tell people the truth, and because it makes them uncomfortable. So, are we willing to get deep and to go beyond the surface level and to endure persecution, rejection and betrayal for the sake of sharing the gospel of Christ?
A Great Catch
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.”
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled 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.
Jesus wanted to perform a miracle in Peter’s life and in the lives of these other fishermen. Yet, Peter’s first response was to think in human terms. How often do we do that? How often does God ask us to do something or tell us what he wants to do through us but our response is to look at the situation through human eyes and to see the impossibilities rather than the possibilities? We see all the reasons why it won’t work instead of believing God to make a way where there seems to be no way. We focus on the external rather than the eternal. Or, perhaps we initially respond with faith, but when things don’t happen the way we expect or as fast as we had hoped, we easily give up and withdraw. I know I have been guilty of this, have you? Why is it that we get in our minds that if we can’t see a way for it to happen then it can’t happen? Our God is the God of miracles. Amen!
Yet, Peter did not stop at just looking at the circumstances on a surface level. Even though he didn’t see, from a human standpoint, how anything would change, yet he trusted the Lord, and he did what he said on faith, just because Jesus said so. So, what keeps us from having that type of faith? We don’t have to have all the answers. We don’t have to see how everything is going to be worked out before we step out in faith. Faith is believing in what we cannot see with our natural eyesight. And, it is believing in the God of miracles, trusting in his power, might, grace and mercy, and believing that when he says he will do something that he will do it, even if it looks impossible from a surface evaluation. Faith is going out into the deep, not knowing what will face us out there. It is believing God for the impossible, and it is a willingness to step out in faith even when all looks hopeless.
So, what was the result of Peter’s faith? They caught so many fish their boats were not able to hold them all. So, what if we all did like Peter? Jesus has sent us into the world (our deep water) to catch fish, i.e. to make disciples of Christ of people of all nations. What if we all took Jesus at his word and did what he said just because he told us to do it? I believe so many people would come to genuine faith in Jesus Christ that we would not have enough places to meet to hold all those who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. That would be a wonderful problem to have. So, what keeps us from putting out into the deep? Are we afraid of rejection and persecution? Are we afraid of what he might ask us to do? Are we just lazy and self-centered? Or, do we lack concern for the lost? Is there something the Lord has asked you to believe him for, but you have given up because it looked too hard? Will you choose to trust him today and say with Peter, “Because you say so I will…”?
A Sinful Man
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Peter was humbled by this miracle Jesus performed on their behalf. He realized he was not worthy to have the Lord do such a miracle in his life. None of us are. We are all born into sin. There is no one righteous in himself or herself. We have all sinned and come up short of attaining God’s approval. We can do nothing to earn or to deserve such a great salvation. It is only by the grace of God (the miracle Christ performed on our behalf in dying for our sins) and through faith in Christ that we can be forgiven of our sin and have the promise of heaven. Peter just needed to believe and then to act on that faith by doing what the Lord said, and Jesus performed the miracle. It is the same way with our salvation. Jesus died so we could be free from bondage to sin. This is a miracle of God’s grace to us. He asks that we forsake our lives of sin and that we follow him in obedience. This is faith.
Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow him (in obedience). He said if we hold on to our old lives (of sin) we will lose them for eternity, but if we willingly die to our old lives (of living for sin and self) we will gain eternal life (See: Lu. 9:23-25). Some people think these words no longer apply to us, and yet they are repeated by the apostles. A parallel passage is Eph. 4:17-24 where it teaches us that coming to Christ means forsaking our lives of sin, being changed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and putting on our new lives in Christ, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Paul taught that coming to Christ meant no longer walking according to the flesh, to gratify the cravings of our sinful desires, but to now walk in the Spirit, living to please God (See: Ro. 6-8; Gal. 2:20). So, if we want the miracle of salvation, we have to do this that Jesus said to do, by faith.
When Peter humbled himself before the Lord, and he recognized his own unworthiness to be the recipient of Jesus’ miracle, Jesus told him what he wanted him to do next. He was to fish for people, i.e. to share the gospel so people could be saved. Yet, this calling is not just for a select few. Jesus wants all his followers to be lights to the world and to be the salt of the earth and to lead others to follow Jesus Christ with their lives, teaching them to obey all his teachings and instructions (See: Matt. 28:18-20). Will you go? Will you share the gospel of Jesus Christ to a world who needs him? Will you believe God for a miracle in people’s lives? Will I? I pray God will renew my faith to believe him for miracles of grace in other’s lives so that they can be his followers, too. And, I pray I will be willing to go wherever he sends me.
He Touched My Mouth / An Original Work / June 13, 2012
Based off Isaiah 6:1-8; Jeremiah 1:4-9
Oh, I saw the Lord
Seated on His throne,
High and lifted up;
Holy is the Lord!
The earth is full
of His glory.
“Woe to me,” I cried,
“I’m of unclean lips.”
My Lord touched my mouth
With His cleansing pow’r;
Removed all my guilt,
Paid for by His blood.
He asked, “Whom shall I send;
Who will go for us?”
I said, “Here am I.
Before I was born,
God set me apart;
He appointed me
To His servant be.
I said, “I don’t know
How to speak.
I am but a child.”
Then, the Lord replied:
“Do not say to me,
‘I am but a child.’
You must go to all,
And do what I say.
Do not fear them,
For I’m with you.”
My Lord touched my mouth;
Gave me words to say.