Sunday, 31 October 2021
Title: Putting out into deep water
By Dorothy Teoh
Luke 5: 1-11
Luke 5: 1-11 is about the calling of the first disciples. The first three verses set the scene: the crowd pressing in on Jesus as he stood by the Lake of Gennesaret or the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus saw two boats at the water’s edge, left there by the fishermen who were washing their nets. An uncle of mine owned two boats and made a living from fishing. I learned that whether you catch anything or not, nets had to be checked, cleaned and, if torn, mended in readiness for the next fishing trip.
Jesus got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon (Peter), and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
When he had finished teaching, he said to Peter: “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets
for a catch,”
Imagine yourself in Peter’s shoes (he would have been barefoot but I am just using a figure of speech). Together with his fishing partners, he has toiled all night, and they have caught nothing. As an experienced fisherman, he knows that night is the best time for fishing. Along comes this carpenter, who tells him to go fishing – in the daytime! He has just cleaned his nets, he is tired and disheartened, and he wants to go home and rest before night falls and he has to go fishing again so that he can earn enough to feed his family.
After a year and a half of this pandemic, some of us may be feeling like Peter. We may not be physically tired but we may be emotionally tired and disheartened.
Is the Lord calling us to strike out into the unknown – “deep water” – and let down our nets? If He is and we lack the courage and faith to obey Him, take heart from Peter’s response. I don’t think he believed that he would catch anything. At that point, he may merely have been humouring Jesus’ request. He might have seen or heard Jesus as He preached in the synagogue or to the crowds. And as he sat with his hand on the tiller to keep the boat steady so that Jesus could teach the people on the shore, Peter probably listened and caught snatches of what the Lord was saying. Did he have faith in Jesus’ request?
No, but he followed it anyway – “But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” (v5) And when the nets were filled to breaking point with fish, he fell at Jesus’ knees and asked the Lord to go away from him, for “I am a sinful man”. He and his companions were “astonished at the catch of fish they had taken”.
Peter might not have agreed with the Lord’s suggestion, but he obeyed. And as the Tyndale commentary on Luke says, “Obedience brings results!”
Even if there is no call to put out to “deep water” for now, we may still be feeling fearful, as our “boat” is tossed about by the storms of life and the circumstances of this pandemic.
There is a sequel to this miracle, and that is Jesus assuring Peter: “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” (v10) Tyndale says that “Do not be afraid” means “Stop being fearful” rather than “Don’t get scared”. It also marked a turning point in the lives of these fishermen – having encountered who Jesus was, they left everything, and followed Him.
The lyrics of the Sunday School song “With Christ in the vessel we can smile at the storm” hold a wealth of truth. Christ is in the vessel with us, whether He is calling us to put out to deep water and let down our nets, or whether we are close to the safety of shore in shallow water.
Dear Lord Jesus, you have told us not to be fearful because you are always with us, whether in rough seas and stormy weather or in the calm of shallow waters. Thank you that when you call us to put out to deep water, you are not sending us out alone, you are in the boat with us, just as you were with Peter. He did not obey out of faith but he humoured your request. Like him, we too may need to take “baby steps”. Lord, we pray that for now, that will be enough. And as we do so, fill our nets, O Lord. Amen.
路加福音 5：1-11 是关于第一批门徒的呼召。前三节经文设定了场景：当主耶稣站在革尼撒勒湖或加利利海时，人群涌向祂。
主是否呼召我们进入未知领域 —“深水”— 并撒下我们的网？如果祂是，而我们缺乏顺服祂的勇气和信心，请从彼得的回应中振作起来。我不认为他相信他会捕抓任何东西。那时，他可能只是在取笑主耶稣的要求。当主耶稣在会堂或向人群传道时，他可能已经看到或听到了主耶稣。当他坐在船舵上保持船的稳定，以便主耶稣可以教导岸上的人时，彼得可能在听，并抓住了主所说的话。他对主耶稣的要求有信心吗？
不，但他还是照做了：“但既然你这么说，我就放网了” (5 节)。 当网被鱼填得快要裂开时，他俯伏在耶稣的膝前，求主离开他，因为“我是一个有罪的人”。他和他的同伴“他们对所捕获的鱼感到惊讶”。
这个奇迹还有后续，那就是耶稣向彼得保证：“不要怕！从今以後，你要得人了” (10节) 。廷代尔说：“不要害怕”的意思是“终止害怕”而不是“不要惊慌”。这也标志着这些渔民生活的转折点——他们遇到了耶稣，抛下一切，跟随了祂。