Luke 5:1-11 September 12, 2021
Rev. David J. Clark
Our scripture passage is about when the original disciples first met Jesus. Such a huge crowd flocked to hear Jesus preach that he couldn’t address them all. They were at the lake and Jesus spotted some fishermen cleaning their nets. So, he climbed into one of the boats and asked the fisherman, Simon (who Jesus would nickname Peter), to pull out into the water so Jesus could address the crowd from the boat.
Jesus interrupts business as usual
I’ve always resonated with the fact that Peter and the disciples were just minding their own business when Jesus comes along to interrupt their lives and start asking things of them. You may think you are just coasting along through life when suddenly Jesus shows up and challenges you to get involved with some person or cause. Maybe it will happen to you this morning. You never know.
After he finished preaching, Jesus said to Simon, “Go out into the deep and cast your nets there.” I imagine Simon rolled his eyes. It must have taken all that he had in him not to say, “Listen preacher boy. I do this for a living. This isn’t hobby fishing. I do this every day. Last night we fished and fished throughout the night and caught nothing. I’m tired and just want to finish cleaning up and go home. Besides, putting the nets into the deep water is a horrible idea. Everyone knows that the fish feed in the shallows in the morning. Stay in your lane and leave the fishing to the pros.”
Simon was learning that Jesus comes along and disrupts our business as usual. He interferes with our daily habits and calls us to go to deeper levels.
YET is a magical word
Simon didn’t tell Jesus off. He said, “Lord, we have been fishing all night. We caught nothing.” Then he said a magical three-letter word, Y-E-T. “Yet, Lord, if you say so, we will do it.”
Yet, is the most powerful word of faith. And if you are going to be a follower of Jesus, you had better get used to saying it. Because Jesus is challenges us to go deeper than we may want to go. He challenges us to do things that are inconvenient, and often go against our inclinations.
Think what he said. Forgive those who have hurt you. Love your enemies. Serve others. Do not worry. Give a place of honor and befriend the people that everyone else rejects. You may have some reasons why you think these teachings don’t apply to you. Lord, don’t ask me to forgive. You don’t know how I hurt. Lord, don’t ask me to spend more time in prayer. I tried that. I prayed and prayed and didn’t get what I asked for. Lord, don’t tell me to serve. I don’t have time for one more thing in my life. I’m running ragged the way that it is. Instead of offering Jesus excuses, and the word, “but” try the magic word. Yet. Yet, Lord, because you ask, I will do it.
Is your boat empty?
Jesus’ miracle stories always carry symbolic meanings beyond showing off his abilities. In this story we–like the disciples–often find ourselves frustrated because our efforts have yielded very little. Empty fishing boats may represent those times in our lives when we have been trying and coming up empty. Maybe you’ve been trying in a relationship, your faith, some venture.
Perhaps you feel you haven’t caught much except heartache.
We all want to fill our boats with a full life. We yearn for wisdom, love, healing, peace. Some people don’t catch these things because they simply refuse to go deep. Deep water is where the increase is. Going deep takes faith. Deep water is a risk. Focus of mind and heart are needed. But shallow water is pleasant and safe. It tickles our ankles when we walk in it. You can to the bottom.
Temptation to stay in the shallows
Staying in the shallows is an enormous temptation. You skitter along, self-absorbed, just going from day to day. Shallow water doesn’t risk much; it doesn’t take a whole lot of courage. It’s tempting to stay at a surface level, the shallows. It’s safer there. To go deeper in a relationship implies some vulnerability.
It’s easy to joke something off, think we not capable. Lily Tomlin said, “Deep down, I’m shallow.” We can always go deeper. To go deeper in faith means to live it out in daily life, not just when you’re at church. To go deeper in some ability requires a sacrifice of time and failing enough to learn from the failures.
Deep water is where we have to go to get what God has for us. God has given you everything you need to bring in the big haul into your life. One of the great problems in our world is that we are too used to fishing the shallows. Jesus today asks us to go deep. Go deeper in your life.
What it means to go deep
Let’s switch the metaphor just a bit, for this first Sunday of the NFL season. I remember when I was a kid playing football. We would draw up plays in the dirt. And everyone loved it when the quarterback would say to you, “Go deep.” That meant you ran as fast as you could and he would throw it to you and if you caught it, the glory of the touchdown was yours.
You are on Jesus’ team, and he has called a play for you. Go deep. Go flat out. Whatever you do in this world, whatever you are called to do, then do it flat out. If you are a mom, a dad, a citizen, a church leader, to put your heart into it. Go Deep.”
Take your relationships deeper
We are called to go deep. Going deep means that in your relationships with people, every once in a while, you will have something more important to talk about than the weather. Going deep means that the people that are most important to you and that grab your attention are not what any celebrity or politician may be exposing and to whom, but to lift up to our children, by giving our attention those who do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.
Deepen your faith
Going deep means that we will love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind. You may be really smart and have all kinds of degrees but if your morality doesn’t keep up with your mentality then your fishing will be for naught. You will say to yourself, I have really caught something here. But when you look you will see you just got some old tire from the bottom of the lake. Going deep means that we will never stop learning, that we will get out those Bibles that are collecting dust on our night stands, and spend more time reading that than you spend watching commercials that tell us the things that are so opposite of what is in the Bible. It means that we will read things that challenge us. It means that we will get involved in classes that inspire us—like the one Pastor Susie is offering beginning this week. Love the Lord with your mind. And we will not just read the news, but ask what resources our faith can bring to problems.
Be balanced. Have fun, enjoy life. Many times we wind up with empty boats because our life balance is off. We aren’t at our best if we are working ourselves to death. Take care of your body, challenge your mind by learning and doing new things.
Boatloads of Blessings
When Simon said, “Yet, Lord,” he put out into the deep and brought up so many fish that they had to call for a second boat. And both boats nearly sunk because they had so many fish. The hyperbole reminds us that this is supposed to be symbolic.
You may find that if you go into the deep that you will wind up with boatsful of blessings in your life that you never dreamed were possible. When you forgive someone, you may find that you need to ask for forgiveness from someone else and it will heal something broken and what a blessing that would be. If you stop chasing after money as your ultimate concern even giving some away, you may have to readjust your priorities and your spending habits, and once you do you will stop wasting money on shallow things and once it doesn’t become your highest priority you may feel all kinds of pressure about not having enough just come sloughing off of you like a gigantic weight. What a boatful of blessing.
You may find that if you get out and volunteer for one of the dozens of things, we have for you as opportunities to serve that you will find yourself blessed because you discover the true joy of unselfish acts.
You want a boatful of blessing? Go deeper in your relationships. Be a deeper person. Grow, stretch. And you will find more fulfilling relationships with God and your family and friends. Maybe that is how you also will become a person who fishes for people. They will be drawn to you they will want to know how it is that you are so blessed, so joyful. And you can look at them and tell them that you learned to say a three-letter word, YET. AMEN.