I love it when God arranges for us to hear the same message more than once. Has it ever happened to you? You read a verse, then someone later quotes it, then it shows up randomly on a sign. Or the song on the radio refers to it. I think it was Albert Einstein who is credited with saying, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” As Christ-followers, we look at coincidence as God speaking up, telling us to pay attention to Him!
Yesterday in my Bible study, I read Luke 5:1-11. “Coincidentally,” this morning, that same chapter shows up on my read-through-the-Bible schedule. Okay, I get it! What do we see in this passage?
Jesus is teaching by the Sea of Galilee; the crowds are pressing in, gathering ever closer to listen to this Teacher who speaks with such grace, authority and wisdom. Peter, James, and John have just finished a long night of fishing and are cleaning their nets nearby. Jesus asks Peter to row Him out from the shore so He can speak from the boat. Peter complies.
When Jesus has finished speaking to the crowds, He turns to Peter and tells him to “put out in the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” As an experienced fisherman, Peter is skeptical; they’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing, but he obeys. To his surprise, the nets draw in such a great quantity of fish they almost break, and he has to call his friends, James, and John, to help before the boats sink with the load.
Peter’s response isn’t predictable. He falls down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” Jesus tells him not to be afraid; from now on, Peter will catch men! Peter, James, and John understand what He is asking. When the boats are safely moored on the shore, they leave everything and follow Jesus.
What can we learn from this brief encounter Jesus has with three ordinary fishermen?
It wasn’t coincidental that it was Peter’s boat; it was a divine appointment arranged by a sovereign God. God had plans for Peter, and it began here. Jesus interrupted Peter in his normal, everyday life as he did the work his father probably did before him – the work he expected to do until he was too old to pull in the nets. God is still pursuing relationships with ordinary people like you and me – He has an exciting, unpredictable, possibly dangerous, definitely rewarding mission for us. The question is, will we notice who He is and what He is offering?
Here are just a few observations that come to mind as we respond to God’s pursuit of us to become true followers of His Son, Jesus.
* Peter had to welcome Jesus into his boat; when God speaks, we must open our minds and hearts.
* Jesus asks us to push out into the deep. We can’t stay on the shore where it’s safe and comfortable.
* Peter had to recognize his own hard work had produced nothing in order to see the miracle – the spiritual work – Jesus wanted to do.
* Peter had to let go of his expertise, knowledge, and skill in deference to the Teacher’s instructions.
* Peter had to give up going home to rest after a long night of fishing. He had to interrupt his plans and expected routines of life and work.
* No one fished at this time of day; Peter had to trust Jesus, even if he felt he was going to look foolish.
* Peter had to obey.
* Peter saw the power of God as Jesus revealed just a taste of what He could do if Peter followed Him.
* James and John were pulled into the miracle; when God moves in our lives, it affects others around us.
* In light of who Jesus revealed Himself to be, Peter recognized his own unworthiness and responded in humility, acknowledging his sinful state in the presence of holy God.
* Once He met Jesus, Peter couldn’t go back to his old life; had to leave everything, right there on the shore.
* Jesus was the pearl of great price, the treasure worthy of a complete change of life direction and purpose.
They left everything and followed Him.
Jesus steps into our lives every day as the Holy Spirit speaks to us in so many ways. Are we listening? Have you offered your boat to Jesus?