Thank you for clicking on my blog. 2 reasons you should keep reading: 1) I am personally committed to writing more consistently and your gracious feedback on this article in the form of a comment would be appreciated, and 2) Perhaps you would like to wrestle with the Gospel of Luke, too.
Once Jesus stepped inside the boat, everything changed. Let me specify. Once Jesus stepped inside Simon Peter’s boat, everything changed. After concluding his sermon, Jesus turns to Simon Peter with a challenge: “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” At this point in the story, I wonder what images were racing through Simon Peter’s mind.
On one hand, Jesus had healed his mother-in-law. Simply stated, she had a high fever. They asked Jesus to help her. He told the fever to get out of town. She got out of bed and started cooking. On the other hand, Jesus is no fisherman. He seems to know wood, stone, and rocks. He seems to know preaching, healing, and how to avoid an angry mob. However, suggesting the usage of nets in deep water would disqualify him from offering counsel on any early Saturday morning ESPN fishing show (more on this below). Therefore, what clout and/or credentials authorize Jesus’ command?
We miss the ironies here, because most of us are not fishermen either. First, Simon Peter, the Sons of Thunder, and the rest of the boys fished in shallow water…thus, the nets. They were experts, indeed. Fishing was the family business, and they were no slouches. However, fishing outside their “comfort zone” severely limited dependable, success-producing expertise. Second, “deep water” was mysterious, unfamiliar, and uncomfortable. There were abysmal (pun intended) connotations connected to “deep water.” Would rowing into the unknown would leave them susceptible to a cataclysmic storm? Would rowing into the unknown open trap doors into the underworld? Either way, Simon Peter and his homies were not keen on finding out. Third, fishing with nets in deep water seems futile. Would net-catching fish hang out in deep water? Seems highly unlikely. In summary, Jesus asks fishermen to forsake expertise, fish in unfamiliar, unpredictable waters, and render their equipment useless.
With his head swimming in images of Mommy-In-Law’s disappearing fever, his eyes roll outward staring into the darkness…the deep. Will he push back or push out? Will he risk or rest? Is the Spirit still hovering over the waters of the deep? The unclean, unconventional rabbi wants to go fishing. Are you coming along, Simon Peter?
Simon Peter answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. Nevertheless, at Your word, (But because you say so), I will let down the nets.”
HOW THIS PASSAGE SPEAKS TO ME
This summer, the Wind has forcefully and frequently blown this passage across my path. With each step and in increasing intensity, the challenge and invitation contained within this encounter swirl around.
I resonate with Simon Peter’s fatigue and frustration. When my church planting journey concluded in May 2011, I felt like I had fished “all night” (6 years) and “caught nothing.” As I mentioned in “Dark Night Before the Dawn,” I entered a wilderness season of doubt, bitterness, and exasperation. Did we endure 6 years of sacrifice in order to row back to the shoreline empty-handed in the shadows of darkness?
However, beginning in late February/early March, the Lord began lifting my heavy clouds. This summer, he began necessary rejuvenating transformation that included this very command: “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” We are still discerning and processing what Jesus’ request means for us, but today, we echo, share, and challenge you to participate with us in Simon Peter’s response, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. Nevertheless, at Your word, (But because you say so), I [we] will let down the nets.”
Next time, I will describe their “catch.” Until then, let me bless and encourage you to consider fishing with the Master. Perhaps, He would make an adequate ESPN fishing analyst after all.
Thank you again for stopping by. “Wrestling with the Gospel of Luke (Part 4)” will post soon. Would you click here to offer your answer to the following question: “What’s missing in missional?” Mike Breen, Charles Kiser, and others are producing and encouraging reflective dialogue on this topic, and I would enjoy hearing from you.