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"One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there." - Luke 5:1-3 (NLT)
This past March I went with some friends to watch the 35th anniversary showing of The Karate Kid in the movie theater. We had a blast! And also we were reminded how old we all are.
There is a classic scene where Daniel-san gets fed up with his training and starts to verbalize his frustration. Thus far, Mr. Miyagi had only made Daniel do chores: wax the car, paint the fence, sand the deck...but Daniel fails to see the point. Almost without warning, Mr. Miyagi lets out a guttural yell and throws a punch. Daniel’s training - from the hours of mundane work - kicks in and he blocks the oncoming fist with a little wax-on-wax-off motion. Suddenly he realized that the master knew what he was doing all along.
Simple tasks done in obedience can have a life-changing impact down the road.
Simon had spent the day out in his boat. He was finishing up the daily routine, washing the nets, ready to call it a day. Then Jesus shows up with a mundane request: push the boat back out into the water. It would have been easy for Simon to refuse or gripe, but instead, he does as he was asked. This one act of simple obedience - an unremarkable chore - would ultimately change the course of Simon’s life forever.
"When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.” “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear!" - Luke 5:4-6 (NLT)
Parents, you know the drill. You ask your kids to do something, and instead of compliance, you get complaints.
“Please put away the dishes.”
“But, Daaaaaaaaaaad! I did that yesterday!”
If we’re lucky, they’ll leave it at that, roll up their sleeves, and begrudgingly get to work. If we’re not, the situation escalates and we have to throw out the old, “Because I said so!” line.
Most of what Jesus teaches during his three-year ministry is counter-cultural, and even counter-intuitive. Lessons like “pray for your enemies,” “take up your cross,” or “blessed are the poor in spirit” don’t naturally sit well in our minds. Our initial reaction is often to push back against His call.
Simon was no different than you or me. Jesus gave an obnoxious unlikely command, and Simon Peter, ever quick to speak his mind, spouted off like a child: “But Jeeeeeesus!”
Then he obeyed. See, that’s what I love about Peter. He’s as real a chap as they come, yet despite his short-sightedness he is always willing to take a risk. He just heard Jesus teach a large crowd from inside his boat. Something must have gripped him. The request didn’t make sense, but he wasn’t about to miss out on the action. He may not have liked what was required of him, but he’d see it through.
If Jesus is asking something of you, chances are it won’t feel comfortable at first. Your initial reaction will probably be to ignore it or rationalize it away. Do that, however, and you’re guaranteed to miss the miracle.
"When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.”...And as soon as they landed, [he] left everything and followed Jesus." - Luke 5:8,11 (NLT)
In the 1991 movie, Hook, Robin Williams plays an aged Peter Pan who returns to Neverland in search of his missing children. When he stumbles upon his old gang, the Lost Boys, they don’t recognize him; instead, they treat him as an out-of-place, pudgy old man. It’s not until Peter starts flying once again that the boys can see the Pan for who he truly is. But once they do, they are ready to follow him anywhere.
Simon Peter didn’t initially recognize Jesus for who He is. At first, He seemed like an intriguing teacher. He was interesting enough to draw a crowd. But at the first sight of a miracle, Simon knew this was no ordinary man! Again, not one to waste time sorting through all the details, he immediately gives himself over to the Lordship of Christ.
“You are Lord and I am not,” he says. “And if you’re willing to have me, then I’ll leave everything behind to follow you.”
Every one of us has to come to terms with Jesus. At some point, we have to see Him as Lord and choose to go all-in. There is no kind-of following Jesus. You either go with Him, or you don’t.
Interestingly, we’re told in Matthew 24:30 that Jesus will come back, this time flying in the sky (not unlike Peter Pan?), and wrapped in all the glory and power of heaven. At that moment, every person on earth will recognize Jesus for who He is: Lord.
- Who do you say Jesus is? This is the most important question you’ll answer in your life. It’s an answer worth pursuing. If you’ve got questions, ask a friend. Contact one of our staff members if you need to. Dig in.
- If Jesus is your Lord, have you truly given everything to follow Him? What are you holding back?
"Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” - John 21:3 (NLT)
Let’s start at the very beginning;
It’s a very good place to start.
When you read you begin with ABC;
When you sing you begin with do re mi.
If my assumptions are correct, you now have the “Do Re Mi” tune stuck in your head. You’re welcome.
Anyone familiar with The Sound of Music can place these song lyrics in context. The whimsical nun-turned-nanny, Maria, has taken it upon herself to bring a little pizazz into the lives of the rigid Von Trapp children. But teaching seven stoic children how to loosen up and learn to sing is easier said than done. She first had to go to the very beginning of music theory - understanding basic notes.
Some people read the account of Peter’s fishing trip in John 21 and call him a “backslider,” chalking this up as another one of his failures. Despite the fact that Jesus said he’d start fishing for men, here was Peter, back in the boat, trolling for sardines.
I’m not sure I buy that assessment. Jesus told the disciples to wait for him in Galilee. Peter was there, with the others, just as they were told. Never one to sit idly by, Peter hops up and says, “Since we’re here, I may as well go fishing while we wait.” This was possibly the first time Peter had cast out his nets since meeting his Lord. The boat was Peter’s beginning. He would have been comfortable and at ease with a net in his hands. And, after all, this was where he first received God’s glorious invitation. Perhaps Peter went out to remember, not to forget.
Sometimes we need to go back to the beginning. When life gets tough, when the call to follow Jesus seems too hard, when we’re in pain and don’t know what step to take next, it can help simply to remind ourselves of why we were drawn to Jesus in the first place.
"A third time [Jesus] asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.” - John 21:17 (NLT)
When I was in high school I broke three fingers on my right hand. I had been playing a massive game of unsupervised volleyball at a youth group lock-in when the injury occurred. As I tried to block a spike, my careless and overzealous opponent took his eyes off the ball. Missing the Wilson completely, his full-on windmill swing made direct contact with my fingertips.
Later that day a doctor took some x-rays and assessed the damage, pressing and pinching different parts of my pinky finger. “Does this hurt? Does this hurt? How about this?” With that last question, and without warning, he grabbed the end of my pinky finger, which was protruding away from my hand at an odd angle, and cracked it inwards, setting the bone back in its rightful place.
“YES, THAT HURTS!” I yelled, before nearly passing out.
Sometimes in order to fully heal we have to realize the depth of our wounds. When Jesus restores Peter, He does so completely. This, however, meant getting to the bottom of Peter’s sin, guilt, and shame. He had denied Jesus three times. In order to absolve Peter of his own self-condemnation, he needed to come face to face with the depth and the fullness of what he was carrying. And it hurt.
But Jesus takes the totalness of Peter’s pain and wipes it away completely. That is the beauty of God’s grace. It isn’t a surface covering that makes us look and feel shiny on the outside. It is a soul-searching, marrow-restoring grace that invades and recreates what once was broken.