- Sermon Notes
In Luke chapter 5, Jesus is just beginning His public ministry in the area around the Sea of Galilee. One day He was standing by the shoreline teaching the Word of God and multitudes were pressing all around Him.
Jesus saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake so He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. He sat down and began teaching the multitudes from the boat. This would have created some distance so He could address the whole multitude, but the water would also have become a natural amplifier of His voice.
But the real point of the story is what happened after He finished teaching the multitudes, He turned to Simon and said, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” This was not about teaching Simon to catch fish, Simon caught fish for a living, he knew all about fishing.
This was about making Simon a disciple of Jesus Christ. And that’s where we must put ourselves into the story because God’s heart is that we also become disciples of Jesus Christ.
This story is filled with amazing insight into what it means to become a disciple and the transforming power that will have on our lives when we apply those same truths.
But before we look at this story, let’s step back and take a broader view for a moment. First of all, what does it mean to be a disciple? The root meaning of the word is “one who is learning.” But it has a deeper meaning than just being a student. To be a disciple meant to follow after the Teacher and to become like Him in character, thought, word, decisions, and manner of living.
To find a teacher in those days meant that you would learn how to live your life; his wisdom would become your wisdom, his character would become your character. You can take classes and learn how to have a career, but where do you learn how to have a life? That’s what it meant to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. That’s what we need today. Becoming a Christian is not just a matter of having your sins forgiven and your name written in the Lamb’s book of life; it’s about becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. It’s about having His wisdom become your wisdom and His character become your character and His manner of life become your manner of life.
Another thing we should also learn from this story is that God loves to use unlikely people. It gives Him great glory to see those who are simple grow in wisdom and stature of God.
At the northern end of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus will receive four disciples and they’re all fishermen. How unlikely is that? Jesus will turn the world upside down using simple fishermen? He’s going to take a tax collector, hated and despised by everyone, except by other tax collectors, and make him a disciple of the Son of God? How unlikely is that? Then to the other extreme, He’s going to take Saul, a legalistic religious Jew, trained in the highest universities, and a violent persecutor of Christians and then make that man a disciple of Jesus Christ? How unlikely is that?
Who are you? Simple? Unsophisticated? Good, you’re just the one God is looking for…
1 Corinthians 1:27-29, God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.
Acts 4:13, Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.
I. Disciples Respond to God’s Word
- When Jesus told Simon to let down his nets for a catch, at first, Simon argued with Him, trying to convince Him that it was a waste of time.
- Simon knew this was the wrong time to be catching fish, especially using nets; that’s the point of fishing at night…
Illus – One of meaningful experiences we always include when we go to Israel is to take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. At some point, they always stop the boat and demonstrate how to catch fish Peter’s way. Except, we never catch any fish because it’s in the middle of the day.
- But the next phrase is key to what it means to become a disciple. He said, “…but at your word, I will let down the nets.”
A. Nevertheless…I will do what you ask
- This has a very practical application because many people have an independent mindset and hold on strongly to the idea of being “master of their own destiny.” This has dangerous consequences.
- Many people, when they hear God giving them direction, argue with God and dismiss it out of hand, “I worked hard at fishing all night and caught nothing, there are no fish.” Period. End of discussion. Issue closed.
- In truth, what Jesus asked Simon to do didn’t make good fishing sense, but He was asking Simon to do it as a matter of trust.
- Here’s the point for a disciple of Jesus Christ, be willing to attempt the impossible. If God is in it, anything can happen. Many people will quit at the first sign of an obstacle, but God can do far more than you can imagine.
Ephesians 3:20, Now unto Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us…
- Simon did counter Jesus, but then did what Jesus asked. “Nevertheless, at Your word I will let down the nets.” And the result was a great quantity of fish.
B. God blesses faithfulness
- This principle is a constant theme in the Word of God. A true disciple of Jesus Christ needs to have this principle written on his heart, backwards and forwards.
- It’s easy to argue with God, but when you add that one extra phrase, “Nevertheless, at Your word…” That’s allegiance, that’s faithfulness from the heart.
- That takes trust that the Lord knows what He’s doing. In other words, be willing to make the Lord, truly your Lord.
Luke 6:46, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”
- To call Him, “Lord, Lord” requires a couple of things; first, it requires humility. This is because we tend to be so independent minded.
- It also takes faith that God knows what He’s doing. Logic didn’t help Simon understand why the Lord wanted the nets cast right then.
- We can step back and see that Jesus was not trying to teach Simon some new fishing technique, He was teaching Simon about faith and the power of God’s presence in his life.
Illus – This reminds me of a story. Many years ago, the Dallas Cowboys drafted Roger Staubach, an accomplished quarterback. He was drafted onto a team that was coached by Tom Landry, considered by many to be a genius in football strategy. And Tom Landry personally called every play. The problem was that Roger Staubach had always called his own plays. The result was nothing short of disaster. When he finally trusted that Tom was a great coach, he led the Cowboys to four Super Bowls.
In the same way, many people are used to being the quarterback of their lives and struggle with God calling the plays.
- When Simon did as Jesus directed, he enclosed a great quantity of fish, and the nets began to break. Jesus was giving Simon a prophetic insight into the effectiveness of obedience, because Jesus was going to make him a fisher of men.
C. We must master our own desires
- To be a disciple of Jesus Christ means that we must master our own desires to the obedience of Christ. Simon didn’t really want to let down the nets; to him it was a waste of time, but he did it.
- Imagine what God might do in the life of a disciple that is that responsive to His Word.
- There are some great scriptures that give insight into the effectiveness of obedience.
1 Corinthians 9:27, … but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
2 Corinthians 10:5, … we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,
Hebrews 5:14, But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
Hebrews 4:12, For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit… and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Illus – I remember reading about how they used to train Arabian warhorses. They went through much training and discipline, but there was one great and final lesson… the desire for water.
II. Disciples Know Who They Are
- When Simon Peter saw the great catch of fish, he fell down at Jesus’ feet saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
- First of all, we should understand that Simon was still quite immature in his faith and Simon’s words are a response of spiritual immaturity, though we can certainly understand his reaction.
- This is actually a common reaction that people have when they first encounter the Lord, “Depart from Me Lord, because I’m a sinner, separate yourself from me, Lord, because my life is messed up.”
- “I don’t want to hear that, I’m a sinful person, turn the channel…” is a common reaction of the world.
A. Know who you are in Christ
- If we could only know who we are in Christ, we would have a very different reaction; instead we would say, “Depart from me sin, I am in the presence of the Lord.”
- That attitude of heart is a major shift and it comes from knowing who we are in Christ.
- Simon said, “I am a sinful man.” Do we sin? There is no one without sin, that’s true, but where do we find who we are? How do you identify yourself? “I am a liar, I am a thief, I am an adulterer?”
- When we are in Christ we have a change of perspective about who we are. The enemy is called the “accuser of the brethren” and wants to remind you of the things you’ve done that are sinful. The problem is that it’s true, so people don’t know how to give an answer.
- We are not who we used to be, we are now in Christ, our eternity is found in Him, our hope is found in Him, or forgiveness is found in Him, and our life is found in Him.
- May we know this and stand firmly in this truth to know who we are in Christ. Then we will say, not as Simon who is young and his faith, “Depart from me, Lord,” but instead we would say, “Depart from me, sin, I am in Christ.”
- When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Jesus.
- These men were becoming disciples of Jesus Christ. There is a point at which maturity sets in and is seen when we leave the old behind.
- Some people can leave the old behind in one wondrous renewing of their heart, for other people it’s a gradual process. And maybe it’s a little of both.
Illus – Many people carry a sack of their old stuff with them, but they get tired of carrying it around and take things out and get rid of them one at a time.
- Leaving the world behind is the process of discipleship.
Illus – For me, it was my music. I left the old behind, little by little, but one day I realized it was only music anointed by the Spirit that ignited my soul.
2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
Luke 5:1-11 NASB
1 Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; 2 and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. 3 And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat. 4 When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” 6 When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; 7 so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9 For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.” 11 When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.