Wrestling with the Gospel of Luke (Part 4 *Final*)

16 Aug

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.

As mentioned in the title, this is “Part 4” of a series in the gospel of Luke. Below are links to the three previous entries.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Yesterday, on his Twitter feed, my buddy, @CharlesKiser, posted the following quote attributed to Eric Pfeiffer: “It’s the birthright of every Christian to hear the voice of the Father.” John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, quotes Jesus Himself as saying something similar (or maybe Pfeiffer heard it from him first!), “My sheep recognize my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27 NLT)

For my dad, it was a whistle. It did not matter if I was in a room crowded with hundreds of people, participating in an athletic event, or behind the closed door of my bedroom playing Super Nintendo, whenever and wherever my dad whistled, I could hear it. I could pick out and pick up on his whistle while conversations unfolded all around me. In the midst of any cacophony, I recognized my dad’s whistle. He knew me and upon hearing the whistle, I immediately looked up, made eye contact, and found my way to him.

Do we recognize the voice of the Master? Can we tune to the frequency of the Master’s voice even with the noise of other radio stations saturating the “scan” and “seek” buttons of our lives? As we shuffle from playlist to playlist, does Jesus get airtime, and do we know when He’s got the mic?

Simon Peter heard the voice of the Good Shepherd: “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon Peter recognized the voice of the Good Shepherd: “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at your word, I will let down the nets.” From there, the text reveals that Simon Peter and his buddies caught so many fish that their nets began to break. What?! After all the reasons why this will not work, their nets are breaking?! By then, they were forced to band together to help (and sorta rescue) each other. As they frantically threw fish into their buddies’ boat, both boats became so full that they began to sink. Once more, what?! I guess they frantically rowed to shore, but I SO wonder what transpired between Luke 5:7 and Luke 5:8. Regardless, their nets, boats, and extensive experience failed all at the word of Jesus. As I wrote in “Part 3,” Jesus asks fishermen to forsake expertise, fish in unfamiliar, unpredictable waters, and render their equipment useless. Now in “Part 4,” we discover that when they do, they catch the greatest haul of their lives.

To call it an overwhelming experience seems quite the understatement. After Jesus’ healing of his mother-in-law, adding a lifetime supply of fish to the mix sent Simon Peter over the edge: “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” In (possible) other words, “You are some kinda power! I’m so not. You speak and amazing happens. After coming up short in religious studies, I’m back here struggling through life in the family business. What could you ever see in or want from me? Please go away. I’m too not like you to participate in this.” Eugene (The Message) quotes Simon Peter as exclaiming, “Master, leave. I’m a sinner and can’t handle this holiness. Leave me to myself.” Ever felt that way? Leave me in my misery, Jesus. You’ve more important people and matters. Don’t waste your time with me. “Master, leave.”

My son, Hudson, created the collage in this picture in Bible class last night. When we asked him what his class talked about, he responded, “God, flowers, and stuff.” At 3 years old, it’s difficult to determine whether or not he’ll grow up to become the next famous artist or painter; however, it matters little, if at all. As far as @HeidiMashele and I are concerned, he creates masterpieces. How can we say such a thing? When he creates, he’s using gifts given to him by his Father, and he’s participating in an activity only found in fullness and completion in and by his Father. We don’t reject his creations, because they are not Picassos. We celebrate them because…well just because he created them.

Let us rejoice at Jesus’ refusal to answer the “Master, leave” prayer. He does not abandon us because we are not holy enough. He does not rip our “God, flowers, and stuff” creations to shreds because, at 3 years old, we cannot produce a Van Gogh. No, the King of the Universe, humbled Himself in becoming one of us, and, in the Luke 5 passage we’ve been discussing, truly reveals Himself as the Good Shepherd (an allusion back where we began…John 10) by offering these encouraging words to Simon Peter (and us), “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”

Misplaced fear has no place here. Fear of not measuring up. Fear of not knowing what to say. Fear of doing it wrong. Fear of not knowing the Scriptures well enough. Fear of uncorking the past. Fear of mysteries in the future. If you want to fear the one who can destroy both soul and body (Matthew 10:28)…that would be wise, but misplaced fear has no place here (I’m so happy to use my punny rhyming words today). Reassuringly, the Master says, “Don’t be afraid…[I have a job for you.]”

So, what are we afraid of? Another buddy of mine, @MissioGibby, tweeted: “Creation is well when we risk looking foolish by casting our nets in deep waters for the sake of the Messiah.” What fears are shackling our wrists and preventing us from “casting our nets in deep waters for the sake of the Messiah.” Later on, I added “for His sake and by His word” to the tweet. If we are His sheep and know His voice, what have we to fear? When face-to-face, are we prepared to respond with, “I wanted to offer a cold cup of water in your name. I wanted to visit you in prison. I wanted to give you a place to stay. However, I never acted because I was too afraid.”? As the crescendo of the passage, Jesus seems to be telling Simon Peter that no time for fear exists. He (like we) have a job to do.

At his word, Simon Peter let down the nets in deep waters, and at his word (“Don’t be afraid. Let’s go fishing for people.), he (and his buddies) “…pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” Jesus asks fishermen to forsake expertise, fish in unfamiliar, unpredictable waters, and render their equipment useless, and now they are leaving it all behind to follow Him.

Aren’t they crazy, irresponsible, selfish, and in a fantasy dreamworld far from reality? Jesus provided enough fish to rip nets and (almost) sink boats, but what about tomorrow…what about next week…what about next year…what about climbing the family business ladder of success…what about consideration for how the townspeople will look at this…what about seeking wise counsel from other religious leaders…what about the savings account…what about the kids college fund…what about retirement…what about…what about…

Mesmerized by the abundance of fish and hoping to become like Him, at His word, they left it all. Nets…boats…everything. There’s movement here…a shift…transition…transfer…from darkness to light. From the darkness of fishing in our own strength with our own methods…own experience…own strategies…own grit and determination.

When Heidi and I first entered into church planting, I felt as though (and believe) we were following Jesus on in. However, somewhere along the journey, we passed Him. We were still looking backward at Him, but we were on up ahead (and moving ever-so-quicker). Whether we could look back and see him or not, we were out of order. Eventually, we got so far ahead we could no longer look back and see Him.

On the other hand, when they fished in the light of His word…when they moved in response to what He was doing…when they recognized His voice and moved in tune with the frequency of His Spirit…yeah well, we’ve already talked about the broken nets, undependable boats, and fish tossing that occurred.

When it comes to wrapping Christmas presents, I get out of the way, and my wife takes control. It’s like teaching ballet to a pig and I don’t do leotards. (I have no idea what I meant there, but I had fun writing the sentence!) Well actually, she no longer offers lessons. That being said, in order to spare myself the embarrassment of a poorly tied bow, I’m just going to leave them in the bag and politely choose not to neatly wrap-up this “some of Luke 4 and 5” blog series. Truth be told, I’m exhausted from wrestling and my hip feels funny.

Instead, I’ll let the tension sizzle. How does 1) “Don’t be afraid,” 2) “…from now on you will fish for people,” and/or 3) They “left everything and followed him” stir you? What questions remain? Which character(s) are you in Luke 5:1-11? What is Jesus saying to you through this text? What final paragraph would you write to conclude this series? Overall, how can I improve this “Bible-blogging” series?

Thank you again for stopping by. I have enjoy the writing and interaction during this series, and am considering similar “Bible-blogging” for the future.

In the meantime, 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.

Still learning,

1 Comment

Posted by on August 16, 2012 in Bible


One response to “Wrestling with the Gospel of Luke (Part 4 *Final*)

  1. Charles Kiser

    August 22, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    I appreciate the part about “forsaking expertise” and “rendering equipment useless” – seems like to often I lean on my perceived expertise and equipment way more than I lean on the Lord. How arrogant. And, well, I’m not so much of an expert after all. And my equipment sucks. I need the power of the Holy Spirit to do the work of bearing fruit through me if it’s ever going to amount to anything.


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