When he finished teaching, he said to Simon, “Push out into deep water and let your nets out for a catch.”
Luke 5: 4 The Message
Are you willing to go deeper with Jesus?
The actual context for this verse is illuminating. As Jesus delivers these words to Simon, He is sitting in Simon’s boat. He had happened upon Simon and some other fishermen on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Even though Jesus had just recently started his ministry, His fame had already spread far and wide. A crowd gathered to hear Him. Desiring to teach them, Jesus asked Simon to take Him in the boat, and to put out in the shallow water. From this spot near the shore, He then used the boat as a pulpit from which to teach the people.
I have been blessed to see the Sea of Galilee. It is impossible to know exactly where on along the shoreline this story took place. Yet there are several coves where preaching from a boat in shallow water would have amplified the sound. We know sound carries on water. These settings might be described as a natural amphitheaters.
Once He was done speaking, Jesus invites Simon to put the boat out into deeper water, so that they might pull in a catch of fish.
To my reading, this is extremely thoughtful of Jesus for two reasons. First, He realized He had taken time that these fishermen would have used that time to provide for their livelihood. Second, Jesus knew that He could teach them about the abundance of the Lord through an abundant catch of fish.
Yet the fishermen resisted Jesus’ suggestion. They explained that they had been fishing all night long, but had caught nothing. As we say in the fishing world, they had been skunked. Why go out again? Everyone’s tired! They would rather not go. Yet instead of being obstinate, they decided to humor this Jesus character by taking Him out into the deeper water.
You probably remember the rest of the story. They catch so many fish that the nets are breaking. They are stunned by this amazing catch. Most likely, they begin to think about the very words Jesus has spoken earlier from their boat to the crowds. They become aware of their own sinfulness. Jesus tells them not to worry. In fact, He then tells them that they need to pack their bags, as they are about to embark on a great ministry adventure with Jesus. “From now on, you will catch people!”
They probably thought, “If this Jesus figure knows even half as much about catching people as he does about catching fish, we’re going to catch a lot of people!”
They immediately leave behind their boats and their nets in order to follow Jesus. They didn’t take time to sell their boats, contact immediate family, or make arrangements for someone to keep an eye on things. They just immediately followed Jesus.
Do you even wonder what would have happened if they had said, “No, we are not putting out into the deep water.” Pride, exhaustion, and arrogance could have intervened to prevent them from accepting Jesus’s invitation.
Yet through God’s intervention, Simon and Peter and James and John decided to accept Jesus’ invitation. Because of this decision, the world has never been the same.
I believe Jesus is continually inviting us to “go deeper” with Him. He wants to teach us more and more about His love, and His Word. He wants to use us to “catch” the people we know. Remember, you cannot begin to clean a fish, until it has been caught. May we be willing to leave the safe shallow waters. Instead, let us courageously venture forth with our Lord… into the deep waters, where we may cast a wide net!
Thank You, Lord, for Your constant persistence in drawing me closer to You. Help me to be courageous, when a quiet safe cove looks more desirable. Help me to push out into the deeper water, trusting You to give me the words I need to share. Your Word is always good news.
With a thankful heart, I pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.