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Face to Face with God

Catching People

Luke 5:1–11 (CSB)

5 As the crowd was pressing in on Jesus to hear God’s word, he was standing by Lake Gennesaret. He saw two boats at the edge of the lake; the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, which belonged to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from the land. Then he sat down and was teaching the crowds from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”
“Master,” Simon replied, “we’ve worked hard all night long and caught nothing. But if you say so, I’ll let down the nets.”
When they did this, they caught a great number of fish, and their nets began to tear. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them; they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’s knees and said, “Go away from me, because I’m a sinful man, Lord!” For he and all those with him were amazed at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were Simon’s partners.
“Don’t be afraid,” Jesus told Simon. “From now on you will be catching people.” 11 Then they brought the boats to land, left everything, and followed him.

Dear fellow redeemed: Can you connect the dots between what happened here in this text and where you are today? Put simply, God invaded this world, called people to Him by His word, demonstrated His divine power (sometimes frightening those who really saw it) called others by His word who would, by that word, call still others to Him, and so on throughout history. You and I are here because of it.

What happened to Simon was that when the nets filled, it was brought home to Simon that he was …

COMING FACE TO FACE WITH GOD

  1. See His Blessings
  2. See Our Debt
  3. Behold His Mercy
  1. See His Blessings

Luke, remember, is recording all of this by inspiration, but also by careful investigation of all the accounts of Christ’s life and ministry. The Holy Spirit used Luke’s observations and conclusions to shape a picture for us that the Holy Spirit uses to reveal the truth to us – truth that is not just information, but a divine power that offers and gives what it proclaims.

We are presented with this reality of Jesus and His word today: By His word, Jesus confounded Satan when tempted in the desert. By His word Jesus proclaimed Himself as the fulfilment of the prophesies of the Savior, as the one sent with the power of the Holy Spirit by the Lord (Yaweh). By that word many were called to follow Him: They were all speaking well of him and were amazed by the gracious words that came from his mouth; yet they said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”(Luke 4:22, CSB)

But because of unbelief, many despised that word, and Christ: They got up, drove him out of town, and brought him to the edge of the hill that their town was built on, intending to hurl him over the cliff. (Luke 4:29, CSB) This happened even when He performed stupendous miracles.

Many who were called to faith were reluctant to let Him go elsewhere, but he persisted: But he said to them, “It is necessary for me to proclaim the good news about the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because I was sent for this purpose.” (Luke 4:43, CSB)

So that brought Him throughout the land; and now in Galilee, we see him so overrun by crowds (s!) that he has to grab a boat from some fishermen He knew and teach from out in the lake so they could hear Him. Do you see how His impact is compounded? It is no wonder He was known far and wide even in those days. Please understand that He does not teach moralistic tales life a self-help speaker, and He doesn’t do little tricks like an illusionist. He reveals the Kingdom of God, the action of God in this world, and He moves the physical world at his command. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”

Simon Peter gets that. He saw Jesus heal his mother-in-law. That may be one reason he and his partners do what Jesus told them, even though as expert fishermen they knew that a carpenter/preacher wasn’t qualified to give fishing advice. And yet, two boats could scarcely make it back to the shore with the catch. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”

“Master,” Simon replied, “we’ve worked hard all night long and caught nothing. But if you say so, I’ll let down the nets.”

When they did this, they caught a great number of fish, and their nets began to tear. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them; they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

Christ revealed Himself, and Simon saw Jesus as the One who had been feeding, clothing, and providing for him all his life, including his life as a fisherman. We should too. The sun, rain, food, clothing, shelter, wealth, comfort, and peace we enjoy is part of the “daily bread” that this Jesus, Creator and Preserver, bestows upon us.

But there is more to this Christ, and Peter saw it.

2. See Our Debt

Peter also saw the relationship between himself as a sinner and Christ as His righteous Lord. He’s the one who spoke of it, but they all grasped the situation. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’s knees and said, “Go away from me, because I’m a sinful man, Lord!” For he and all those with him were amazed at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were Simon’s partners.

Let me tell you, if we were openly confronted by our Maker, without anything to shelter us, you and I would also fear, for we are sinful. Everything that you have hidden away in your past is an open book to HIM, and the just displeasure and judgment of true holiness toward our sin would be an open book to US.

What do you suppose was featured in Peter’s catalog of shameful thoughts, words, and deeds? Why was he embarrassed? He knew the psalms. He knew that with God there is forgiveness. In fact, why do I preach against sin – mine and yours – if we know we are forgiven?

Two main reasons: Complacency and despair. We may become so complacent over our sins, too used to being forgiven, even, that Christ as Savior means less and less to us so that we lose faith because of indifference. OR We may be so accused by Satan, others, and by our own conscience that we lose trust in Christ as the true Redeemer from such sins as ours, and so despair.

Already as we read our text, we must have heard the part, “you will be catching people” and “they … left everything, and followed him.” And hearing that we know we have not been quick to share with others the hope that we have in Christ, nor have we been willing to give up much to follow him, we have to question our own commitment. What is wrong with us, that we can’t invite a friend, acquaintance, co-worker, or family member to church? What is wrong with us that we are so attached to our possessions that we can’t do with a little less to provide for the work of the gospel?

It’s tough to confront ourselves. But think what it was like for Peter. Peter knew Christ. He had been to his home, healed his mother-on-law, taught Simon and the others. Yet they had regularly left Jesus to fend for Himself and gone on with their daily lives. I’m sure they were glad of the gospel, but it hadn’t upended their lives or anything.

But now, confronted with the Lord of Righteousness, Peter couldn’t ignore his shortcomings and his obligations.

We also know Christ. We receive His gifts daily. We hear His comforting words, but we haven’t had to upend our lives or anything. We haven’t been “canceled” on social media, or lost a job because of who we talk about forgiveness with. We, too, feel naked when we come face to face with God as we do through His word.

3. Behold His Mercy

But now comes this powerful word of Christ again: “Don’t be afraid,” Jesus told Simon.

Again:

“…he fell at Jesus’s knees and said, “Go away from me, because I’m a sinful man, Lord. …
“Don’t be afraid,” Jesus told Simon. “From now on you will be catching people.”

Jesus gave Simon his freedom. He could live his life as a Christian without fear. Was Simon perfect as an apostle? Well we know that Paul had to personally rebuke him for his behavior, so, no, he wasn’t perfect. But did that separate him from Christ? No, it didn’t, because of His grace. Because of the Grace of God, we possess the righteousness of Jesus, by faith.

That freedom is yours too. You are free to serve Christ without fear of condemnation that you didn’t do it well enough, weren’t dedicated enough, weren’t correct in your judgment. It is in daily repentance before Christ, and in his declaration, “Don’t be afraid, rejoice, your sins are forgiven!” that we live in this freedom.

So, bear witness of the hope you have, without fear of getting it wrong, or offending your Savior. You can give up everything, without fear that you will be in want. Simon Peter saw his ability to provide for him. You see it too.

AMEN