Lessons In the Shallows, Miracles In the Deep: In the Absence of Crowds & In the Deep Waters

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as it was written and recorded by the physician Luke, More specifically, today’s passage is found in the fifth and sixth chapters of this New Testament book. BUT THE FISHERMEN WERE GONE OUT OF THEM, AND WERE WASHING THEIR NETS! THRUST OUT A LITTLE FROM THE LAND! LAUNCH OUT INTO THE DEEP! LET DOWN YOUR NETS FOR A DRAUGHT! MASTER, WE HAVE TOILED ALL THE NIGHT, AND HAVE TAKEN NOTHING! NEVERTHELESS AT THY WORD I WILL LET DOWN THE NET! AND WHEN THEY HAD THIS DONE, THEY INCLOSED A GREAT MULTITUDE OF FISHES! AND THEIR NET BRAKE! FROM EMPTY NETS TO BROKEN NETS! THE INITIAL CALL TO THRUST OUT A LITTLE FROM THE LAND! THE SECONDARY CALL TO LAUNCH OUT INTO THE DEEP! PARTNERS IN THE WORK! PARTNERS ON THE SEA! TWO SHIPS STANDING BY THE LAKE! THE FISHERMEN WERE GONE OUT OF THEM! EMPTY NETS, DIRTY NETS, BROKEN NETS! FILLED SHIPS, SINKING SHIPS! CALLED IN THE PLACE OF WORK! CALLED IN THE PLACE OF EMPTINESS! CALLED IN THE PLACE OF HAVING NOTHING! [FROM CLEANING NETS, TO LAUNCHING OUT INTO THE DEEP, TO INCLOSING A GREAT MULTITUDE OF FISH, TO FALLING DOWN AT JESUS’ FEET, TO FORSAKING ALL AND FOLLOWING JESUS] FALLING DOWN AT THE FEET OF JESUS, FORSAKING ALL AND FOLLOWING JESUS! ENCOUNTERING JESUS IN THE PLACE OF WORK! ENCOUNTERING JESUS IN THE PLACE OF EMPTINESS!

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will come to one of my absolute favorite passages in all of the gospels. As you come to and approach the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke you will find what is in my opinion one of the most powerful encounters between Jesus and the disciples—one that is completely and altogether different from the other gospel narratives. If you begin reading with and from the opening verse of the fifth chapter you will find a familiar scene within the public life and ministry of Jesus—namely, large crowds, multitudes and people pressing upon Him to hear the word of God. The fifth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke begins with a need and a desire to hear the word of God as it would be spoken from and by the mouth of Jesus the Christ. In the opening verse of the gospel narrative written by Luke we find a great need and desire to hear the word of God, and people willing to press themselves against Jesus to listen and hear the words which He would speak concerning the kingdom. It would be in this context we find Jesus the Christ being by the lake of Genessaret, and it would be there at the lake Jesus would notice two ships which were standing there by the lake. So as to be able to teach the people the word of God concerning the kingdom Jesus would seek to enter into one of the ships, and to use the ship as a platform to speak to the great crowd and multitude of people who gathered themselves before and around Him to hear the words He would speak. WHEN SHIPS BECOME PLATFORMS! WHEN SHIPS BECOME PODIUMS! WHO SAID YOU NEED A PULPIT? WHO SEED YOU NEED A PEDESTAL! Perhaps one of the single greatest truths found within the gospel narratives written concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ is that Jesus never demanded men and women to come unto Him to hear the word of God, nor did He expect them to make their way to a specific place in order to hear the word of God. Upon reading and studying the gospels you will find that when Jesus taught, and when Jesus preached the word of God He brought that word unto the people right where the people were. What’s more, is that Jesus would never need a pulpit, nor would He ever need a platform, not would He ever need those things we ask for and demand when we seek to bring the word of God unto the people. Nowhere in any of the four gospels will you find Jesus demanding a platform, nor a pulpit in order to preach and deliver the word of God, for you will find Jesus using whatever was available to Him at that particular time.

            If there is one thing I so absolutely love and appreciate about the four gospel narratives concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ it’s that Jesus was willing to bring and deliver the word of God right to where the people themselves were. You will never find anywhere in any of the gospel narratives Jesus ever setting Himself up in the Temple, or setting Himself up in one of the synagogues, and from and within that place demanding and expecting men and women to come unto Him where He was. I am absolutely convinced this is significant, for Jesus was never bound to a particular set of four walls in order to deliver the word of the kingdom unto the people. Of course we know from the gospels that there were times when Jesus taught in the Temple, and we know that there were times when Jesus would teach in synagogues, for Scripture reveals of at least two synagogues He would teach in—namely, the synagogue in Capernaum, and the synagogue in Nazareth. While it is true that Jesus would indeed and would in fact teach within synagogues as well as the Temple, we must needs recognize and understand that Jesus was never bound to either of these locations. What’s more, is I would dare say that if Jesus was ever bound to the four walls of the synagogues, and if Jesus was ever bound to the court of the Temple of the living God, there would have been countless individuals who might not have heard the word of God. What makes this even more astonishing and remarkable is when you think about the fact that there were those within Judaea and Galilee who would never enter into a synagogue, and perhaps would never even come into the court of the Temple of the Lord to hear and listen to words which were being taught and spoken, and yet there were countless multitudes within Judaea, Jerusalem, Galilee, and the surrounding regions who would come great distances that they might hear the word which Jesus would teach unto them. What’s more, is we know that no Roman would or could enter into any of the synagogues of the Jews for Jewish law and custom prohibited Romans from entering into any of them. We know that the Temple was to be a house of prayer unto all the nations, and yet Scripture is entirely and altogether clear if Romans, or anyone else during those times were able to enter into the court of the Temple in order to bring their gift, their offering and their sacrifice before and unto the Lord.

            As I sit here this morning I can’t help but be absolutely captivated and gripped with the fact that Jesus would not set Himself up in a specific synagogue and demand that men and women make their way unto Him in the synagogue in order to hear the word of the kingdom. There is not a doubt in my mind that had Jesus confined and bound Himself to the four walls of the synagogue—or even the four walls of the Temple—there would have been a great hindrance to the hearing of the word of the kingdom. Had Jesus been bound to the four walls of the synagogues, and/or been bound to the court of the Jewish Temple there would have been countless individuals who would have never heard the word concerning the kingdom. This is particularly and especially true when you come to the fourth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John, for within the fourth chapter we find Jesus journeying from Judaea unto Galilee, and in the process of that journey He needed to pass through Samaria. We know from Scripture, as well as Jewish history and tradition that Jews and Samaritans did not associate with each other, and in most cases they avoided each other. The Jews viewed the Samaritans essentially as a half-breed and mixed people, and therefore sought to keep themselves distant and set apart from them. What makes the fourth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John so absolutely powerful is that not only do you find Jesus needing to pass through Samaria, and not only do you find Jesus sitting at a well in the town of Sychar within the region of Samaria, but you will also find Him sitting and speaking with a woman. Please do not miss the awesome and incredible significance of what took place in the fourth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John, for to have Jesus not only entering into Samaria, but also sitting at a well and speaking with a woman there at that well would have been an abomination in the sight of the Jewish people. Oh I can’t help but wonder what many of the Jews and what many of the scribes, chief priests and elders of Israel would have thought if they not only saw Jesus enter into Samaria, but also sit there at that well and have a lengthy discussion and dialogue with this Samaritan woman.

            This particular narrative concerning the Samaritan woman is so absolutely incredible when you take the time to think about and consider it, for what would begin with Jesus sitting at a well in the town of Sychar and speaking with a Samaritan woman would continue to Jesus actually choosing to spend a full two days in Sychar eating, breaking bread, and fellowshipping with the people of that town. Stop and think about the fact that not only did Jesus enter into Samaria, and not only did Jesus sit by a well in Samaria and speak with a Samaritan woman, but Jesus would also spend two days breaking bread, fellowship and teaching the people there in the midst of that town. Oh I can’t help but wonder if there weren’t men and women who would come from neighboring towns within Samaria during those two days to hear the word of the kingdom and the word of God. What we must realize and recognize when reading these words is that the Samaritans would not have been able to enter into any of the Jewish synagogues during those days to hear the word of God being taught and preached by Jesus. What’s more, is I would dare say none of the Samaritans would have entered into Judaea and Galilee to hear the word concerning the kingdom, as well as the word of God during those days. In fact, what makes the Great Commission so incredibly powerful is when you think about and consider the fact that Jesus instructed His disciples to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judaea, IN SAMARIA, and in the uttermost parts of the earth. When speaking and delivering the Great Commission unto His disciples Jesus never commanded, nor did He instruct them to invite the Samaritans into Judaea, nor into Galilee, nor even into Jerusalem in order to hear the word of the kingdom and the word of God. Instead, that which we find Jesus doing is commanding the disciples to preach the gospel concerning the kingdom in Jerusalem first, and then in Judaea, but to not stop there. We must needs realize and recognize that the gospel of the kingdom and the word of God was never to remain within the walls of Jerusalem, nor within the borders of Judaea, but was to extend and expand beyond those walls and borders, and enter into the region of Samaria. Moreover, Samaria would be absolutely critical and crucial for the spread of the gospel, for it would be through Samaria the uttermost parts of the earth would be unlocked as the gospel would not only enter into Samaria, but would also continue to spread throughout and beyond Samaria.

            I find it absolutely incredible to read and consider the words which were found in the fourth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle John, for what we find in this particular chapter is not only Jesus entering into Samaria and speaking with a local woman from that region, but we also find Jesus spending a full two days in Samaria teaching and preaching the word of God and the gospel of the kingdom. It is absolutely necessary that we understand and pay close attention to the words found in this passage, for they wonderfully and powerfully demonstrate that not only did Jesus not confine Himself to the four walls of synagogues, nor did He confine Himself to the court of the Temple, nor did He confine Himself to the walls of Jerusalem, nor did He even confine Himself to the boundaries and borders of Judaea and Galilee. Jesus was willing to enter into Samaria—enter into a region where most, if not all the Jews would have absolutely no desire, nor intention on entering. IT is truly something wonderful and powerful to think about and consider the fact that Jesus would enter into Samaria to deliver the word of God, and Jesus would also enter into the homes of countless individuals—including the house of two tax collectors (one of which would become one of His own disciples), as well into the house of a Pharisee. What’s more, is Jesus was even willing to journey unto and enter into the house of a Roman centurion in order to bring healing unto his servant who lie at home sick with the palsy. The four gospels are replete with example after example of Jesus moving beyond the four walls of the synagogues, moving beyond the walls of Jerusalem, moving beyond the court of the Temple, and moving beyond the borders and boundaries of Judaea and Galilee that He might deliver the word of God and the word of the kingdom unto all those hungry and thirsty hearts and souls.

            One of the greatest truths and realities I so absolutely love about the four gospels is that Jesus never confined Himself to the four walls of the Jewish synagogues, nor did He ever confine Himself to the court of the Temple in order for people to hear the word of God and the word of the kingdom. What makes the journey into Samaria so incredibly powerful is when you think about the fact that had Jesus not entered into Samaria, and had Jesus not chosen to spend a full two days eating, breaking bread, fellowshipping with them, and teaching them the word of God and the gospel of the kingdom, they might not have heard the gospel of the kingdom. If there is one thing I so absolutely love about the life and ministry of Jesus is that not only did He not confine Himself to the four walls of any of the synagogues in Judaea and Galilee, but Jesus was willing to use what was available to Him in order for Him to teach and preach the word of God. There were times when Jesus would go up on to mountain sides in order to teach and preach the word of the kingdom, and it would be from upon a mountain Jesus would deliver the Sermon on the Mount. Here in this passage of Scripture found within the gospel narrative written by Luke we find Jesus being by the lake of Gennesaret and seeing two ships standing their by the lake. There at the lake of Gennesaret Jesus would not only see two ships standing by the lake, but Jesus would see and notice how the fishermen were gone out of them and were washing their nets. Luke writes and records how one of the ships belonged to Simon. Jesus would enter into one of the ships belonging to Simon, and would pray that he thrust the ship a little further from the land. It would be after Simon thrust the ship out a little from the land Jesus would sit down and teach the people. It would be there in the ship of a fisherman Jesus would deliver and teach the gospel concerning the kingdom, and it would be there in the midst of a fisherman’s ship Jesus would teach and preach the word of God unto the people. Oh how truly remarkable it is to think about and consider the awesome and incredible reality that Jesus would transform a fisherman’s ship into a podium and platform which He would use to deliver and preach the gospel concerning the kingdom of heaven. It would be there in the midst of that ship Jesus would teach and preach unto the people who would gather themselves before and unto Him to hear the word concerning the kingdom of heaven.

            What I find so absolutely incredible about this passage is what takes place after Jesus had finished and made an end of speaking. As you continue reading the words which are found in this particular passage of Scripture you will find that after Jesus had made an end of speaking that He would speak once more unto Simon and instruct him to launch out into the deep. Not only this, but we also find Jesus speaking unto Simon and instructing him to let down his nets for a draught—or for a great catch of fish. We must needs pay close and careful attention to this, for initially the word and command which would be spoken unto Simon would be to thrust the ship out a little from the shore that Jesus might teach and speak unto the people. Jesus’ first command unto Simon concerning his ship was that he might thrust the ship out a little from the land that there from the ship in the midst of the sea Jesus might teach and speak unto the people. It would be there from the ship in the midst of the sea Jesus would transform a fisherman’s ship into a platform and podium which He would use to teach, and preach, and deliver the word of God and the gospel concerning the kingdom. It would be once Jesus finished teaching and preaching the gospel concerning the kingdom He would undoubtedly dismiss the people to return unto their homes and to return unto their towns, their cities and their villages. What we must recognize and realize is that even after Jesus undoubtedly dismissed the crowd and multitude of people who gathered themselves unto Him to hear the word of God, He would remain in the ship with Simon that He might accomplish something much different. While it would be true Jesus would use Simon’s fisherman’s ship to teach the people the word of God and the gospel concerning the kingdom, it is also true that Jesus would remain in the ship together with Simon [perhaps even with his brother Andrew] that He might use that ship to accomplish and fulfill something else entirely and altogether different.

            As you continue reading the words which are found in the fifth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the physician Luke you will find that what would initially begin with a command to thrust a little from the shore that Jesus might teach the people from within the ship would ultimately transition to a powerful command given unto Simon to launch out into the deep—and not only to launch out into the deep, but also to let down their nets for a draught. Initially Simon would merely thrust the ship out a little ways from the shore that Jesus might teach the people from the ship, however, when the teaching had come to an end there would be a secondary encounter that would take place. ENCOUNTERS IN THE DEEP! ENCOUNTERS WHICH CAN ONLY TAKE PLACE IN THE DEEP! THESE TYPES OF ENCOUNTERS CAN’T TAKE PLACE IN THE SHALLOW WATERS! THESE TYPES OF ENCOUNTERS CAN’T TAKE PLACE NEAR THE SHORE! IF YOU WANT TO EXPERIENCE THIS TYPE OF ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS THE CHRIST YOU MUST NEEDS BE WILLING TO LISTEN TO AND OBEY HIS COMMAND TO LAUNCH OUT INTO THE DEEP! It’s worth noting that Jesus’ initial command unto Peter was that He thrust out a little ways from the shore that from the midst of the ship He might teach the people the gospel concerning the kingdom, and that Simon himself might hear and listen to the word concerning the kingdom. We must recognize and understand that Simon was undoubtedly present in the midst of the ship when Jesus taught the people, which means that Simon would have heard and listened to every word Jesus spoke unto the people. Jesus’ command given unto Simon to thrust out a little ways from the shore would have placed Simon in the ship together with Jesus as He would teach and preach unto the people the gospel concerning the kingdom of heaven, and the word of God. Scripture is unclear what Jesus taught on this particular day, as well as how long Jesus would even teach the people for, but one thing we know for certain is that Simon would have been there in the midst of the ship together with Jesus hearing every word He would teach and speak unto the people. Simon would be there in the midst of the ship with Jesus a little ways from the shore that He might hear that which Jesus would teach, and that which Jesus might preach concerning the kingdom, and yet hearing the words Jesus would teach and speak was only part one of the encounter Simon and his brother, as well as John and his brother James would experience together with Jesus the Christ.

            THE TEACHING OF CHRIST WOULD ONLY BE PART ONE OF THE ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS! TEACHING WOULD TAKE PLACE IN THE SHALLOW WATERS OF THE LAKE, BUT THERE WOULD BE A SECONDARY ENCOUNTER THAT WOULD TAKE PLACE IN THE DEEP! HEARING THE WORDS WHICH JESUS WOULD TEACH THE PEOPLE WOULD TAKE PLACE WITHIN THE SHIP IN THE MIDST OF THE SHALLOW WATERS OF THE SEA, BUT THERE WOULD BE A GREATER ENCOUNTER THAT WOULD TAKE PLACE IN THE DEEP! Oh, the more I sit here and consider the awesome and powerful narrative concerning Simon thrusting the ship a little ways out from the shoreline of the lake, as well as Jesus’ command to launch out into the deep, the more I can’t help but encounter and come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that there are certain things which must needs, and certain things which do in fact take place in the shallow waters, and it is there in the shallow waters where Jesus is able to teach and speak unto men concerning the kingdom of heaven, as well as deliver the word of God. Even with this being said, however, we must recognize and understand that there was something else which needed to take place which would and could only take place in the deep. It was indeed true Simon would hear the word concerning the kingdom as he sat there in the midst of the ship listening to every word Jesus taught and spoke unto the people, however, hearing the words Jesus taught would only be part one of this divine encounter with Jesus. It was true Jesus would use Simon’s ship as a platform and podium—not only to teach the great crowd and multitude of people, but also Simon, his brother Andrew, as well as James and his brother John—and it was true that Simon would hear the word of God there in the midst of his own ship, however, there would be something else that would take place within that ship that was entirely and altogether different from merely hearing and listening to the word which Jesus would teach and preach. One of the things I so absolutely love and appreciate when reading this passage of Scripture is that not only did Jesus find Simon, his brother Andrew, as well as James and John where they were in a place that was familiar and comfortable to them, but Jesus would teach these four brothers—together with the great crowd and multitude of people—the gospel concerning the kingdom. Simon would hear the word concerning the kingdom—not within a synagogue, nor within the court of the Temple, but within his own ship. Simon would hear Jesus teach and preach the gospel concerning the kingdom, as well as the Word of God directly from within his own ship.

            The more I think about and consider this the more I can’t help but find it truly remarkable when you consider the fact that Simon and his brother Andrew—together with James and his brother John—had spent all night upon the lake letting down their nets that they might catch fish, for this was indeed their livelihood. Simon spent all night laboring and toiling out in the midst of the sea letting down his nets that he might catch and bring up a great catch of fish, however, Simon’s own words spoken unto Jesus would reveal that he, his brother Andrew, as well as James and John labored and toiled all night, and had taken nothing. Simon’s own words acknowledged the fact that they had spent all night out on the waters and out in the midst of the sea letting down their nets, and within and throughout the night they had caught nothing. Now here we are in the morning with Simon, his brother Andrew, as well as James and John washing and cleaning their nets that they might make them ready for the next time they would launch out into the midst of the waters, and would go out into the midst of the lake. I absolutely love that even though Simon had spent all night in the midst of that ship laboring and toiling and coming up empty, Jesus would enter into his ship and ask him to thrust out a little from the shore that He might teach the people. After laboring and toiling all night—not only would Simon thrust his ship out a little ways from the shore that Jesus might teach from it, but Simon would also sit there in the midst of the ship together with Jesus hearing and listening to the words Jesus would teach and preach concerning the kingdom. Having labored and toiled all night and catching nothing Simon would now hear and listen to the word of God and the gospel concerning the kingdom. Here again, we are unclear and uncertain how long Jesus taught the crowd and multitude of people, and even that which Jesus taught the people there from the midst of the ship, but we can be absolutely certain Simon would have heard the words which Jesus spoke unto the people. It would be there in the midst of the ship—the same ship in which he had spent all night laboring and toiling in—Simon would now hear and listen to the word concerning the kingdom of heaven, and would hear the word of God. What was previously a vessel which Simon and his brother, as well as James and John would use all night to try and catch fish would not become a vessel and means whereby the word of God would be delivered and preached from. Simon and his brother Andrew would have spent all night laboring and toiling within that ship, and now Jesus turned and transformed that ship into a powerful place of rest, as well as a powerful place of hearing the word of God.

            WHEN VESSELS OF LABOR AND TOIL ARE TRANSFORMED INTO VESSELS OF REST AND PEACE! WHEN VESSELS OF LABOR AND TOIL ARE TRANSFORMED INTO VESSELS OF TEACHING AND HEARING! I absolutely love the fact that while this ship would have been a vessel in which Simon and his brother labored and toiled all night seeking to catch would be transformed by Jesus the Christ into a vessel of rest, a vessel of peace, and a vessel of hearing the word concerning the kingdom. This ship which would have previously been used as a vessel of labor and toil would not be transformed into a wonderful and powerful instrument in the hands of the Messiah to teach and deliver the word of God unto all those who would hear and listen to Him speak. Those who would hear and listen to Jesus speak would indeed and would in fact be Simon and his brother Andrew, as well as James and his brother John. It would be there in the midst of the ship Simon—perhaps even his brother Andrew as well—would hear and listen to the words Jesus would teach and speak unto the crowds and masses, as Jesus would teach the people within and from the shallow waters of the sea. I have to admit that there is something quite unique about this particular narrative, for within the shallow waters of the lake we find Jesus teaching the crowds and the people. It would be there in the shallow waters of the lake the people would hear the word of God and the gospel concerning the kingdom, and this would even include Simon and his brother Andrew, as well as James and his brother John. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality for there are things which take place in the shallow waters of the sea, while there are other things which can only take place in the deep waters of the sea. There are those things which might very well take place in the shallow waters of the sea and in the shallow waters of the lake, however, there are other things which can only be experienced when you are willing to hear and obey the command of Jesus to launch out into the deep waters. It would be in the shallow waters Simon would hear the teaching of Jesus the Christ, and it would be in the deep waters Simon would hear the command and instruction of Jesus to let down his nets again. Oh please do not miss and lose sight of this truly remarkable and astonishing reality, for what we find here within this passage of Scripture is a truly wonderful and powerful picture that there are certain things which can only be experienced in the midst of the deep waters—things which cannot be experienced in the shallow waters, and those places close to the shoreline.

            LAUNCHING OUT INTO THE DEEP! LAUNCHING OUT INTO THE DEEP WITH JESUS! If there is one thing I find absolutely incredible about the words found in this passage of Scripture, it’s that when Jesus instructed and commanded Simon to launch out into the deep, He would still be in the midst of the ship with Him. Jesus would not command, nor would He instruct Simon to launch out into the deep while He Himself remained upon the shoreline, but Jesus would actually be in the midst of the ship together with Simon. Jesus’ initial command to thrust out a little ways from the shore was so He could teach the people—and perhaps not only so He could teach the people, but so He could position Simon in that place where He might take Him further and deeper than where He had been previously. I can’t help but think and consider that Jesus’ initial command and instruction to thrust out a little from the ship was not only that He might be able to teach the people from the midst of the ship, but also that He might position Simon in the midst of the ship for an even greater encounter which Simon would experience—not in the shallow waters of the lake, but in the deep waters of the sea. The more I think about and the more I consider this particular narrative and encounter between Simon and Jesus the Christ the more I can’t help but think about the awesome and incredible reality that Simon would be commanded and instructed to thrust out a little ways from the shore that Jesus might position him in the midst of the ship, as well as in the midst of the waters of the lake that he might hear and receive the second command spoken by Jesus. It would be that first command Jesus would speak unto Simon that would position him to hear the word of God, but I am absolutely convinced that that first command—as well as Simon’s obedience to that command—would powerfully and wonderfully position Him to be able to hear and obey the second command given and spoken by Jesus the Christ concerning the deep.

            The first command given and spoken by Jesus would initially place Simon in the shallow waters and in the midst of the sea that Simon might hear the word concerning the kingdom, but it would be the second command that would cause Simon to be out in the midst of the deep, and out in the midst of the deep waters of the sea where He would encounter and experience the power, the presence, and the person of Jesus the Christ. It would be there in the shallow waters Simon would hear the word of God and would hear the gospel of the kingdom which the crowd and multitude would hear, however, none of those in the crowd, and none of those in the multitude would hear the command to launch out into the deep, and none within the crowd and multitude would be invited to launch out into the deep together with Jesus the Christ. Oh it is something that is absolutely and altogether worth thinking about and considering when you read the words of this particular passage of Scripture, for Jesus’ initial command would not only position Simon in the midst of the ship within the shallow waters of the sea that he might hear the word concerning the kingdom, but it would also position Simon to hear a second command—one which would cause Simon to find himself out in the midst of the deep, and out upon the waters of the sea together with Jesus. It was true that it would be there in the shallow waters Simon would hear the words which were spoken by Jesus as He taught the crowd and the multitude, but it would be there in the midst of the deep, and there in the midst sea Simon would experience something that would and could not have been experienced in the shallow waters of the sea. You will notice that Jesus wouldn’t instruct Simon to launch his nets there in the midst of the shallow waters by the shoreline, but rather Jesus would instruct and command Simon to launch out into the deep, and there in the midst of the deep waters Simon would experience more than just a great catch of fish, but would experience the person and presence of Jesus the Christ. It would be there in the midst of the deep waters Simon would experience and encounter something that otherwise would not have been able to be experienced in the midst of the shallow waters. It would be there in the shallow waters Simon would hear the words which Jesus would teach the crowds and the multitude, and it would be there in the midst of the ship in the shallow waters Simon would be positioned to hear, receive and obey the second command given by Jesus.

            While it is indeed true Jesus would pray and ask Simon to thrust out the ship a little ways in the midst of the waters that He might teach and speak unto the people, I am also absolutely and completely convinced that this command was about more than simply Simon thrusting himself out a little from the shore in order for Jesus to speak unto and teach the people. There is not a doubt in my mind Jesus’ asking of Simon to thrust out a little ways from the shore would be a powerful placement and positioning of Simon to first hear the word of God, and second to hear the second command given and spoken by Jesus unto him to launch out into the deep waters. Simon would hear and obey the initial command of Jesus to thrust out a little ways from the shoreline that Jesus might teach the people from the ship, however, it would be there in the shallow waters Simon would be positioned in the ship together with Jesus for that moment when the teaching would end, and the encounter in the deep would begin. I can’t help but wonder how long it took Simon and perhaps even his brother Andrew to get out into the midst of the deep waters of the sea before they would actually let down their nets. I can’t help but wonder if when they labored and toiled all night and came up empty they were not in this very same place and spot in the midst of the waters. When Simon launched out into the deep there is a part of me that wonders if he launched out into the same place he and his brother—together with James and his brother John—had spent all night laboring and toiling and coming up empty. I can’t help but wonder what that journey into the deep was like as Simon would transport Jesus from the shallow waters of the lake into the deep waters of the sea. What’s more, is that the command to let down their nets into the midst of the sea did not come when they were out in the deep waters, but the command to let down their nets came in the shallow waters at the same time Jesus instructed and commanded them to launch out into the deep. It would be there in the shallow waters Jesus would give the second command to launch the ship out into the deep, and there in the midst of the deep they were to let down their nets. What makes this all the more interesting is that Jesus specifically reveal unto Simon where he was to let down his nets, nor does Scripture reveal how Jesus would speak unto Simon once they reached that specific spot where they would let their nets down. The only command and instruction Jesus would give unto Simon was to launch out into the deep and to let down their nets for a draught. There was absolutely no mention of where they would actually stop in the midst of the sea, and where they were to let down their nets—only that they would launch out into the deep and let down their nets.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the awesome truth surrounding these words and I find myself coming face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that there are certain things which cannot be experienced in the shallow waters. There are certain encounters with Jesus that simply cannot take place in the shallow waters, and if we want to experience those encounters with Jesus the Christ we must needs be willing to hear, and listen to, and obey His command when He instructs us to launch out into the deep. It was true that there in the shallow waters Simon would hear the word of God and would hear the gospel concerning the kingdom, but Simon would not and could not experience the person and presence of Jesus the Christ in the shallow waters the same way he could in the deep. Simon would hear the word of God there in the shallow waters, and it would be there in the shallow waters Simon would be together with Jesus in the midst of the ship, but it’s important to recognize and understand that this was only part one of the encounter Simon would have with Jesus the Christ. It would be there in the midst of the shallow waters Simon would be together with Jesus in the midst of the ship that he might hear and listen to the word of God, but once Jesus had made an end of speaking and would dismiss the crowds it would be Simon and the Lord together in the ship. It would be in the absence of crowds and in the deep waters the true encounter between Jesus and Simon would actually take place. IN THE ABSENCE OF CROWDS AND IN THE DEEP WATERS! IN THE ABSENCE OF CROWDS AND IN THE DEEP PLACES! What I so absolutely love and appreciate when reading this passage of Scripture is that this encounter with Jesus the Christ would not only take place in the absence of the crowds, but it would also take place in the midst of the deep waters. It would be after the crowd had been dismissed and had returned unto their homes, and after Simon had obeyed the command of the Lord to launch out into the deep he would experience something that would cause him to fall down at the feet of Jesus and cry out to Him that he was indeed a sinner. We must pay careful and close attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture, for what is presented before and unto us is the incredible truth that Simon’s encounter with Jesus would take place in the absence of the crowds—when the crowds were dismissed and returned unto their homes—and in the deep waters as he was there together with Jesus.

            The more I stop to consider that which took place within this particular narrative the more I am brought face to face with the wonderful truth that this encounter between Simon and Jesus would and could not take place in the presence of the crowds which Jesus taught, nor could it take place in the midst of the shallow waters. This encounter between Simon and the Lord could only take place in the absence of the crowd and the multitude, and only in the midst of the deep waters. Oh, Simon would be together with Jesus in the midst of the ship as he would hear and listen to the word of God being taught by Jesus the Christ, however, hearing the word of God would only be a portion of the encounter he would have on this particular day. What’s more, is that when Jesus would come upon Simon, his brother Andrew, James and his brother John, as well as their two ships standing by the lake, these fishermen would be cleaning and mending their nets after spending the entire night out upon the sea and coming up empty. I am sure Simon was tired, was exhausted, was frustrated, and was perhaps ready to finish washing the nets and make his way home to the wife Scripture reveals he had and enjoy the rest of the day—perhaps even get to experience rest and a good meal. What we find instead, however, is Jesus entering into his ship—and not only entering into his ship, but also praying that he thrust his ship out a little ways from the shoreline that He might teach the people. Scripture reveals there was no objection from Simon when Jesus prayed that he thrust the ship out into the midst of the sea, and Simon would be there in the midst of the ship together with Jesus close to the shoreline as Jesus taught the people. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that Simon had labored and toiled all night in the open sea, and was now together with Jesus in the midst of the ship listening to the words which He taught the people, and Scripture is unclear how long Jesus taught for. Imagine laboring and toiling all night and then as you’re preparing to finish your work so you could go home Jesus shows up, enters your ship, asks you to thrust the ship out from the shoreline, and then sits down and begins to teach the people. Now you’ve labored and toiled all night and you’re listening to a sermon and teaching of Jesus as He would teach the crowds and multitude. Imagine being Simon as he labored and toiled all night and came up empty, for I am sure Simon might have been tired, weary, exhausted, frustrated, and ready to go home. Next thing he notices is Jesus of Nazareth coming to the lake with a great number of people pressing upon Him to hear the word of God. INCONVENIENCED, TIRED, WEARY, EXHAUSTED, AND PERHAPS EVEN FRUSTRATED!

            INCONVENIENCED AND EMPTY! TIRED AND EMPTY! EXHAUSTED AND EMPTY! FRUSTRATED AND EMPTY! The words which are found within this passage of Scripture are truly and absolutely incredible to think about and consider, for what we find within this passage is the strong possibility that Simon—together with his brother Andrew, as well as James and his brother John—was tired, weary and exhausted after having labored and toiled all night. The fact that they were washing their nets suggests they were getting them ready for the next time they would use them, and that Simon was perhaps preparing himself to “leave work” for the day and return home. Wouldn’t you know that as he was preparing to leave work—not only does Jesus of Nazareth show up, but He shows up with a great crowd and multitude of people pressing against Him to hear the word of God. What’s more, is Jesus would enter into Simon’s ship, and would then ask Simon the thrust the ship out a little ways from the shoreline that He might teach and speak unto the people. I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like for Simon—together with his brother Andrew, as well as James and his brother John—as they had labored and toiled all night upon the open sea only to come up empty and return to the shoreline with nothing. What truly amazes me about this narrative is that not only did Jesus show up to the place of Simon’s work, but Jesus would also exercise His authority, His sovereignty, His power, and His divinity over Simon’s job, as well as the fish of the sea. It’s important and worth noting that not only did Jesus show up at the place of Simon’s work at what we might consider “the end of his shift,” but Jesus also showed up with a great crowd of people who were pressing against Him to hear the word of God. What’s more, is Jesus would show up at the place of Simon’s work, would enter into Simon’s ship, and would then entreat him to thrust that ship out a little ways from the shoreline. Even more than this, we also find Jesus—after He had finished teaching the people, and after He had undoubtedly dismissed the crowds—instructing Simon to launch the ship out into the deep, and there in the midst of the deep to let down their nets. It’s important for us to recognize and consider this, for there was something Simon needed to experience which could not be experienced in the shallow waters of the sea. There was something Simon was to experience in the midst of the open sea, in the deep waters, and in the company and presence of Jesus that he could not experience at the shoreline.

            What I find as truly worth thinking about and considering when reading this narrative is that there was something Simon needed to experience which could not be experienced at the shoreline—even though Jesus was together with him in the midst of the ship. There was something Simon was destined to experience which would and could only take place in the deep waters of the sea, and it was there in the deep waters of the sea Simon would obey the word and command of Jesus. We must needs recognize and understand that this command of Jesus would essentially have two parts to it—namely, that he launch the ship out into the deep, and secondly that he let down his nets in the midst of the waters. It’s worth noting that although Simon had labored and toiled all night, came up empty, and returned to the shore with empty nets, he would obey the word and the command of Jesus the Christ. Simon had labored and toiled all night, and yet what we find is Jesus instructing him to launch out into the deep once more—and not only launch out into the deep once more, but to let down his nets. We have great need of recognizing and understanding this, for there is something truly powerful we need to understand within our own hearts and lives. There are times within our lives when Jesus can and will show up when we are tired, when we are exhausted, when we are weary, and when we are perhaps even frustrated, and will not only get into our ships, but will also ask us to thrust out a little ways from the shore that He might accomplish what He desires, as well as for us to hear that which He desires to speak. We must recognize and understand that while Jesus was teaching the multitude and the crowd Simon was in the ship together with Jesus, and even Andrew his brother might have been in the ship together with Him. It is necessary that we understand that when Jesus taught the crowd and the masses He wasn’t merely teaching the crowds themselves, but He was also teaching Simon, his brother Andrew, as well as James and John. On this particular day Jesus used Simon’s ship—used Simon’s livelihood and means of making an income and providing for his family—to teach the crowds and the people. Pause and think about how absolutely remarkable that is—the fact that even though Jesus might have showed up with a crowd of people at an inconvenient time, and what might very well have been at the end of the work day for Simon, He would use Simon’s ship as the means to teach the people. Jesus would show up at what might very well have been perceived as an inconvenient time for Simon, and yet Jesus would not only teach in the shallows, but He would perform the miraculous in the deep.

            TEACHING IN THE SHALLOWS, PERFORMING THE MIRACULOUS IN THE DEEP! Perhaps one of the greatest truths we see within this passage of Scripture is that Jesus would teach from Simon’s ship in the shallow waters of the lake, but when it came to the miraculous Simon would need to launch out into the deep. Not only would Simon need to launch out into the deep, but Simon would also have to let down his nets—perhaps those same nets he and his brother Andrew had just finished cleaning. LET DOWN THAT WHICH YOU HAVE JUST CLEANED! LET DOWN WHICH WAS PREVIOUSLY EMPTY! The more we read and the more we consider the words found in this particular passage of Scripture the more we can clearly see a powerful narrative of Jesus’ teaching in the shallows and Jesus’ performing the miraculous in the deep. It’s interesting to note that on this particular day the miraculous would and could not be found and experienced in the shallow waters of the lake, but would need to be experienced in the deep waters of the lake. On this particular day the teaching of Jesus would take place in the shallow waters, but once the teaching was finished the real work of exercising faith and obeying the command of the Lord would take place. It would be on this day obedience would not only be manifested in the shallows as Simon would set out to launch his ship into the deep, but obedience would also require Simon to let down his nets in the deep. LAUNCHING OUT FROM THE SHALLOWS AND LETTING DOWN IN THE DEEP! What we must needs recognize and realize within this particular passage is that Simon was not only asked to obey the word and command of the Lord in the shallow waters by first thrusting out from the shore and then launching out into the deep, but Simon was also asked to obey the word of Jesus in the deep in letting down his nets. Simon’s obedience and faith would be tested there in the deep waters, for not only would He have to obey the word and command of the Lord, but he would also have to exercise his faith in letting down his nets after previously being out in the deep, and after previously coming up empty. Simon would indeed and would in fact spend all night laboring and toiling without Jesus present in the ship with him, and on this particular day Jesus would show up, would enter into his ship, would command him to launch out into the deep, and to let down his nets. It would be on this particular day when Jesus would show up “at the office” so to speak, and would bring Simon back into the deep, for it was there in the deep where Simon would experience and encounter the sovereignty, the divinity, and the miraculous power of the Lord. It would be there in the deep Simon would not only be brought face to face with the divinity of Jesus, but Simon would also be brought to face with his own humanity and his own sinfulness.

            If there is one thing I find so absolutely captivating when reading these words it’s that Simon didn’t fall down at the feet of Jesus after He had finished teaching and speaking from the midst of the ship there in the shallow waters of the lake. The narrative reveals how Simon would encounter and acknowledge his own humanity after experiencing and encountering the divinity of Jesus in the open space and in the deep waters. It would be there in the midst of the deep waters, and there in the midst of the open sea after Simon not only let down his nets at the command of the Lord, but would also experience a miraculous catch of fish that he would fall down at the feet of Jesus and would acknowledge his own humanity. I would dare say that in that moment Simon encountered something similar to that which the prophet Isaiah experienced in the year that king Uzziah died, for in the sixth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book we find Isaiah seeing the Lord seated on the throne, high and lifted up, and His train filling the Temple. It would be in this encounter Isaiah would cry out and emphatically exclaim “Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of an unclean people.” It would be during this encounter Isaiah would be brought face to face with his own humanity, and it would be as a direct result of his cry in the presence of the Lord an angel would take a live coal from off the altar and touch the prophet’s lips with it, thus purging and purifying his sin and iniquity. It would be in the presence of Jesus the Christ Simon would encounter his own humanity, and would entreat the Lord to depart from him, for he was a sinful man. Scripture records and reveals how Simon—together with those who were with him—were astonished at the draught of fish that was inclosed on this particular day, and it was in the presence of divinity and after experiencing the miraculous Simon would entreat the Lord to depart from him and would speak of his own sinfulness.

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it worth noting that what would begin with empty nets being cleaned would transition to the place of broken nets and sinking ships. What’s more, is that not only would this encounter lead to broken nets, but it would also lead to filled ships and sinking ships as the total amount of fish that was caught would cause both ships to sink because of the great weight of them. If you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find that when Simon, James and John returned to the shore with the draught of fishes they had caught they would immediately forsake their nets and would follow Jesus. This narrative which would begin with washing and cleaning the nets would ultimately transition to the place where they would forsake those same nets that they might follow Jesus. One thing I can’t help but think about is that not only would they forsake their nets, but they would forsake their ships, and it would seem that they even forsook the great draught of fish they had just caught. There is a part of me that wonders if Simon, James and John left their ships together with the nets and the fish that was caught there at the shore as they forsook everything to follow Jesus. They would indeed experience this miraculous catch of fish, and it would be in that place of the miraculous they would forsake all that they might walk with and follow Jesus. Oh this concept of forsaking all is absolutely astounding, for these three men would not only forsake their ships and their nets, but I would also contend that they even left the fish behind that they might walk with and follow the One who declared unto them they would be fishers of men. Although these three men would experience such a miraculous catch of fish on this particular day, they would forsake everything—including that miracle—in order that they might follow Jesus. We must pay close and careful attention to this, for it would have been easy for these disciples to have allowed themselves to get caught up in the miracle of the fish which had just been caught, and by doing so they would have missed the greater need within their lives—namely, walking with and following Jesus. We know that when Jesus took them with Him atop the mountain where He would be transfigured before them in their sight Simon would declare unto Him that it was good for them to be there—and not only to be there, but also to build three tabernacles or tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah.

            What is so absolutely wonderful and powerful about this particular narrative is that even though Simon, James and John experienced this great miracle in the midst of the lake of Gennesaret they would forsake their nets, their ships, and even the miraculous catch of fish that they might follow Jesus. What’s more, is that not only would they forsake this miraculous catch of fish that the might walk with and follow Jesus, but also that they might catch and become fishers of men. This reality is something that is wonderfully and powerfully seen on the Day of Pentecost when three thousand souls would be added to the early Church after Peter would stand up before the crowd and preach Jesus crucified, buried, raised from death to life, and ascended unto the right hand of the Father. Perhaps that single thing I so love about this reality found in the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke is that despite the fact that Simon, James and John would experience this tremendous miracle catch of fish in the deep waters of the sea they would not remain there on the shore with the ships, nor with their nets, nor even with the miraculous catch of fish itself. Scripture reveals how these three men forsook all that they might follow Jesus the Christ, and this means they would even leave the great draught of fish behind. LEAVING THE MIRACLE BEHIND TO FOLLOW THE MIRACLE MAKER! Oh there are times within our lives when we allow ourselves to get so caught up in the miracle that is performed we completely and entirely forget to continue walking with and following with the miracle worker Himself. There are countless times when we allow ourselves to get so caught up and consumed with the miracle Jesus has performed and wrought within our hearts and lives that we completely and utterly forget the One who actually performed the miracle. It is with this in mind that I can’t help but be reminded of the miracle of feeding the five thousand, and how Scripture records how although there were twelve baskets full of fragments after the miracle was completed, the disciples had forgotten the miracle. What’s more, is Scripture reveals how these disciples forgot the miracle once they entered in the storm—this despite the fact that Jesus was in the ship and in the midst of the storm with them.

            FORSAKING THE MIRACLE TO FOLLOW THE MIRACLE WORKER! Simon, James and John would all leave their nets behind, and would leave the ships behind, and would even leave the miraculous catch of fish behind that they might walk with and follow the One who performed the miracle in the first place. This is something we must needs recognize and understand, for how many times have men and women allowed themselves to get so caught up and consumed with the miracle itself that they completely forget the One who actually performed the miracle? How many men and women have been so caught up and consumed with the miracle(s) Jesus has performed in their lives that they completely forget to continue walking with and following the One who actually performed the miracle? If there is one thing this narrative teaches us it’s that while the miracles are in and of themselves great and fantastic, and while the miracles do in fact bring us face to face with the divinity and sovereignty of God, they are never designed, nor are they intended to keep us bound in that specific place. It would have been very easy for Simon, James and John to remain in that particular place and within that miracle of the fish, however, Scripture makes it very clear they forsook all to walk with and follow Jesus. Oh how absolutely powerful it is to think about and consider the fact that Simon, James and John would forsake the miracle they had just experienced that they might walk with and follow the One who had performed the miracle. What’s more, is I can’t help but consider how much income such a miracle would have generated for Simon, James and his brother John. Scripture is unclear how many fish were actually caught, but I wonder how many months wages was not only found within those nets, but also within the ships themselves. What we find in this narrative is Simon, James and John leaving the miracle behind, as well as leaving the wages and income that miracle would have generated for them that they might walk with and follow Jesus the Christ. It is absolutely necessary that we pay close attention to and understand this, as it wonderfully and powerfully demonstrates the awesome truth that miracles are not designed to so captivate and consume us that we forget about the One who performed the miracle, and do not rise from that place of the miracle that we might walk with and follow the Lord. The miracle caused Simon to fall down at the knees of Jesus and profess his humanity before Him, but once on the shore Simon and his two partners abandoned and forsook everything that they might walk with and follow Jesus. What’s more, is that as a result of their leaving and forsaking this miracle—not only did they open themselves up to three and a half years of walking with and following Jesus, but they also found themselves experiencing countless other miracles Jesus would perform within the lives of those they would encounter and come in contact with.

It is truly something worth noting and pointing out that Simon, James and John experienced the miracle in the deep waters, and they would experience the breaking of nets and the sinking of ships, and once they all made it back to the shore they left the nets behind, they left the ships behind, and they left the fish and the income and wages those fish represented. Oh I can’t help but think to myself how many months wages might have been enclosed within those nets, and how these three fishermen were ready, willing and able to forsake it all that they might walk with and follow the miracle worker. These three fishermen weren’t willing to allow themselves to be bound with and by the miracle that was performed in the deep, nor were they willing to be bound by their ships and nets, for they had just experience the glory, the presence and the power of God in the open waters of the sea. These disciples would experience the transformative power of the presence of God—and not only the transformative power and presence of the living God, but they also experienced the divine presence of Jesus and the miraculous power Jesus had within Himself. These three fishermen were willing to forsake everything they had known, and everything they had worked with that they might walk with and follow Jesus. These three fishermen were willing to forsake the miracle, as well as the income and wages that would be associated with that miracle that they might walk with and follow Jesus the Christ. OH that we would come face to face with this powerful reality, for it is this reality that needs to directly challenge and impact us within our own hearts and lives. This truth needs to be found within the very depths of our heart and our soul as we are willing to forsake and abandon everything that we might walk with and follow Jesus the Christ. Perhaps the single greatest question we must ask is what we are willing to forsake that we might walk with and follow Jesus the Christ, and what are we willing to leave behind that we might walk with the miracle worker and the One who invites us into the journey of discipleship together with Him before His Father in heaven and accompanied by the Holy Spirit.

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