INTO THE DEEP WATER
Isaiah 6: 1 – 8
1 Corinthians 15: 1 – 11
Luke 5: 1 – 11
Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.’ (Luke 5: 10b)
That is really funny. “You’re going to be a people catcher, Peter, so don’t be afraid.”
One of the most prevalent fears is public speaking. I can tell you now if anyone was conducting a survey of fears and then said to the average Joe, “So you are going to tell people about Jesus,” the poor person’s heart-rate would shoot up.
And yet Jesus in one breath tells a man to relax because he was no longer going to be a fisherman, rather he’d be sharing the Gospel from now on.
Why this juxtaposition? What was so fearful that sharing the Gospel was a relaxing alternative?
Peter was afraid because he had just seen a miraculous haul of fish. When confronted with the perplexing person of Jesus, Peter was confronted with God, he became aware of his sinfulness and he was terrified.
In one moment he discovered the solution to his sin problem and his gratitude was so great the prospect of sharing that solution with others made other fears pale into insignificance.
- Are we like that? Do we realise what Jesus saves us from?
- Do we realise what task he has saved us to?
We are saved to a life of witnessing to the fact that we have experienced the most remarkable thing:
- God himself has intervened in history to save us from the consequences of what we are: fallen human beings
- Jesus is the very means of that salvation
- We have met him, in fact know him and have received a commission: to tell other people about him
And this remarkable thing is Jesus, because all these are caught up in him and are expressions of God’s love for us and our love for God.
Now that will only penetrate, will only excite us if the Holy Spirit has brought that to life in us.
If that is not the case then we should:
- seek God with all our hearts until it is so
- repent for our hardness of heart
- and pray until the breakthrough happens
Believe you me, those three things are far harder than lovingly confronting people with the Good News of Jesus.
You see we have grown too respectable, especially living in a middle class suburb on the North Shore. Our friends would think we had ‘gone all religious.’ Our family would do the same.
It is so much easier being a modern Sadducee:
- one of the more privileged in society,
- who are religious,
- who see real change as a threat,
- who play down any communication that all is not well,
- who are quietly ruthless in maintaining their privileged position in life,
- but most of all are simply spiritually blind to the realities of their spiritual condition
In Jesus’ interaction with Peter, he gave him a practical example of how he should act in order to be a productive “fisher of people.” In Vs 4 he says ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’
If we poodle around in the shallows of the faith, not really prepared to engage deeply with God, we’ll fool ourselves into thinking the little fish darting around our feet are the real thing. Jesus wants us to catch the big fish and for that we need to go deep. Not only do we need to go deep but we need to let down our nets as well.
In other words we need to go deep into God and we need to actually share Christ with people.
In the podcasts that are now going out with Day One (I think it’s in the third one) John Comer and Mark Sayers say something like this:
They both spent a great deal of time teaching people how to share their faith, but secularism, the modern spirit of the age, had so compromised their faith that their teaching had little effect.
Their conclusion was that the church needed to go back to basics, to what they called ‘the spiritual disciplines’:
- Private prayer
- Private study of the Scriptures
- Public worship
Without these powerful elements to build up faith, all is in vain. These are the critical elements of entering the deep water of faith where the real work is, and where the real fish are.
May we, as we look to addressing this year, what you all in the Parish Review identified as our greatest shortfall – namely sharing Christ – be committed to engaging with God in the deep water with nets ready to be let down.
God bless you all as together we work out what following Jesus means in the 21st Century