Updated April 17, 2016
Have you heard the Gospel According to Aerosmith?
Okay, I’m pretty sure Aerosmith has NEVER even thought about being a Christian group or talking about the good news of Jesus (gospel is just an old word for “good news”). Still, in today’s word from the Gospel According to Luke, we see Jesus picking out his first disciples and telling them, “Walk this way!” If Jesus sang it, I’m positive he would do it like Steven Tyler… 😉
“On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.”
Whenever the world sees people do amazing things it’s not too long before a crowd draws around. This is exactly the case with Jesus. The crowd is pressing in so much that he has nowhere to go but to get in a boat and preach from the water to the crowd on the shore. What I find fascinating is that Jesus uses Simon for ministry before Simon even knows what’s happening. Later on, Jesus will give Simon the name Peter, but for now he’s simply Simon. And Jesus uses what Simon has to accomplish his task.
It makes me stop and wonder what Jesus could do with what we have if we simply made it available to him. I may not have a boat that Jesus wants to use as a preaching platform, but what do I have that he could use for his purposes? What do you have? Jesus used part of Simon’s job, and he was able to continue preaching to the crowds.
“And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’ And Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.’ And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.”
Done preaching, Jesus addresses Simon directly. Though the text doesn’t say, I get the impression that Jesus and Simon already knew each other—perhaps quite well. Not only does Jesus use Simon’s boat, but then Jesus gives him direction for how to go about fishing.
I can just imagine what was going through Simon’s head: “You’re a builder and you want to tell me how to do my job?! Tell you what, buddy—you go build your buildings and leave me to my fishing.”
But Simon is respectful in his answer and calls Jesus “Master.” Even though he KNOWS Jesus is wrong, out of respect for Jesus Simon will comply. The result is so astounding that more boats and nets are needed to bring in the haul of fish! It’s not that Jesus is such a great fisherman—it’s that Jesus has complete mastery over nature itself. At his word, there is such an abundant provision that the boats start to sink with their catch! What we need to recognize is what Simon recognizes:
“But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.’ And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.”
Simon knows that Jesus’ provision of fish is not simply a miracle of providing fish for his fishing company. The act reveals the nature and person of Christ. That’s why Simon falls down and confesses to being a sinful man—he knows he’s not worthy to be in the presence of Jesus.
Now Jesus turns the whole encounter into a calling—entrance into a new job. He’s not just fishing any more. Now he’s fishing for men. It doesn’t matter that Simon is a mere fisherman. Jesus calls him anyway. And Simon and his business partners drop everything to follow Jesus.
I’m reminded of the band Newsboys’ song “Fishers of Men.”
We’re going to have some reflection and response time. We have two songs that connect thematically with what we’ve been talking about. Think about the message and focus on the words of the songs.
Our first song is called The Great I Am. Jesus is not just a good person—he has power over nature itself. He IS the Great I Am:
Halllelujah, holy holy
God Almighty, Great I Am
Who is worthy, none beside thee
God Almighty, Great I Am!
As you listen, ask yourself how you view Jesus’ identity. If he called you like he called Simon, how would you respond?
Our second song this morning talks about the coming of the Kingdom of God – the thing Jesus preached and called Simon and the others to preach. The song is Build Your Kingdom Here and declares:
We seek your kingdom first
We hunger and we thirst
Refuse to waste our lives
For You’re our joy and prize
To see the captive hearts released
The hurt, the sick, the poor at peace
We lay down our lives for heaven’s cause
– What does it mean to ask for God to bring his kingdom here and now?
– What does living in that kingdom mean for me?
– How can I be a fisher of mankind for Jesus today?
MAKING IT REAL
– This week, try to find a way that God can use you as you are for his purpose (like Simon’s boat).
– Be intentional about being a fisher of men and talk to someone about your faith (I know it can be hard, but you can do it!)
– At the end of the week share your God moments with us here on the site or on our page at Facebook.