The Book of Luke, Jesus Catches Men, Part IV – Lesson 52
We are in Luke 5:1-11
The old saying “Can’t see the forest for the trees!” sometimes requires us to get out of the trees to a clearing so we can see the forest, which means to get to a place to see the big picture.
So we will take a few moments to recap what we’ve learned from this first part of Luke.
Luke, in the first four chapters of his Gospel, has related to us certain aspects of the first coming of Jesus Christ.
He has told us of the announcement to Zacharias of the coming of a son who was to be named John, who later is known as John the Baptist.
We have learned also of the announcement to Mary of the soon coming of a son to be named Jesus and Mary’s ministry to Elisabeth after the birth of John.
He has given us a detailed account of the birth of Jesus Christ and his visitation to Jerusalem where Simeon and Anna, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, witnessed to us that this baby was the Messiah.
Luke continues with an account of the beginning ministry of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, who preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins and for the people to prepare the way of the Lord.
His message to prepare the way of the Lord was clearly a message that the coming of the Messiah was imminent.
We are also given by Luke an account of the baptism of Jesus Christ whereby God the Father declared that this Jesus is his beloved son, in whom he is well pleased.
We take this baptism as the anointing of Jesus Christ as the King of Israel and the beginning of his ministry at the age of about 30 years old.
Luke gives us a careful listing of Jesus Christ’s human genealogy to show his credentials which support his claim as Messiah.
We next witness the testing of Christ by Satan and his full proof of his deity and Messiah ship by defeating Satan’s every temptation.
Satan was God’s Procter in this examination of the Christ and Christ passed every test of Satan.
Luke tells us that Jesus Christ, after passing through these initial steps, embarked upon his ministry by preaching throughout the Galilean area notably in Nazareth.
His message at first is gladly received but when he preaches truths that they do not wish to hear he is rejected and attempts are made to kill him.
His ministry in Capernaum is next explained by Luke where his healing ministry is gladly received but there is no heart change resulting in the people.
We are next given this account in Chapter five of Peter’s conversion where we are witness to the first proper response to the miracles of Christ, that of repentance and bowing the knee to Christ.
In Nazareth and Capernaum, and on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, the crowds and the multitudes are prominent and there is no conversion account given, but in Chapter five individuals are prominent.
This shows us that God saves one by one.
The multitudes are not the place of success in the ministy of Christ but his successes are in the one by ones.
The multitudes are there to use Christ for their own benefit but the remnant is there to worship Christ and serve him.
Luke carefully gives us this account where Peter, the individual, saw Christ clearly and he saw himself clearly and there was only one response upon having this light, that of repentance and yielding to Jesus Christ as Lord.
It is very clear that God is the God of the individual.
Jesus Christ is the remant Prophet and his ministry is to the remnant not to the bolt.
Last week in our lesson we were discussing the fear of Peter for the Lord’s first words to Peter were “Fear not!”
Peter had real fear when he told the Lord to depart from him for he recognized his own sinfulness and the perfection and power of Jesus Christ.
We discussed first that Peter was fearful of not being able to provide for his family.
In addition to fears of how he was to provide for his family it is easy to think that Peter and his partners were fearful about beginning an entirely new vocation.
And I think most of all based upon what Peter said, was that he was fearful because he recognized his sin and the Lord’s righteousness.
The words of Peter, “Depart from me, Lord,” reveal his awareness that a holy God cannot have intimate fellowship with sinful men.
The words of Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” taken by themselves provide only hopelessness to the sinner and that is what Peter felt as he said, “Depart from me, Lord.
If a person would seriously give thought to how can a holy God can have intimate fellowship with a sinnner he would come to a state of hopelessness until his realized that God in Jesus Christ has solved this dilemma.
Now Peter had no desire to leave His Lord but now by knowing the immensity of his sin he could not imagine how such a sinner could have any kind of relationship with such a one as this man Jesus.
The Lord Jesus Christ did not fully answer Peter’s objection on this count, He only assured him by telling Him to stop fearing.
As I said last week “Fear not” literally means to stop being fearful.
That is a command of God to the Christian for fearfulness indicates a lack of faith in God’s care and provision.
We are to have the Psalm 91 understanding of this care and provision where we are told that God is our refuge and fortress, and his wings are our covering.
We are not to be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
Fear and faith are opposed and the Christian must put his complete trust in God concerning any problem he or she faces because God has promised to never leave or forsake his own.
Peter’s fear of the Lord because of his great power caused him to call upon the Lord to depart from him for he now saw himself as completely unworthy to be in the presence of Jesus Christ.
And Peter is right in this, for none of us are worthy to be in his presence and were it not that God provides us a Savior we would never be able to be in his presence.
But according to Jesus Christ there is no need to fear even in this, for he intends to provide for closeness and communion with God by his shed blood and death on the cross in Peter’s place.
Jesus gives no details to Peter about this at this time but his command to not fear should be sufficient.
God gives us on many occasions no details as to how our supposed problems will be solved but he simply says, Fear Not!
Fear not, means trust me instead of looking at circumstances that seem to you insurmountable.
God’s commands when obeyed always bring calmness while disobedience brings fretfulness and nervousness.
Isaiah 26:3-4, Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. 4Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:
Jesus Christ provided the great haul of fish in spite of Peter’s doubt and Jesus Christ can provide for communion of the sinner with God also.
That is not an insurmountable problem to God because by the shed blood and death of Jesus Christ God broke down the wall of separation between himself and the sinner.
So Peter indeed has no reason to fear whatsoever nor do any of us either.
We have gone over these verses carefully and have seen what happened and who made it happen.
These eleven verses deal with the matter of following Jesus.
We see by Peter’s reaction that following Jesus began when he realized his own insufficiency.
Jesus Himself said that He came to seek and to save the lost, that He came not to the well, but to the sick.
So it is only those who are inadequate in themselves who follow Christ and Peter, by this event with the fishes, was brought to the understanding that he was sick, that he was lost.
The self satisfied and those who do not realize the dire straits they are in will not follow Christ.
The one area in which Peter felt confident and capable was as an expert in fishing.
It was no accident that the night before Jesus came to the shores of Galilee was a complete failure as far as fishing was concerned.
Jesus had designed that night of failure to be followed by a lesson of his provision.
Peter failed on his own, and was only successful when he obeyed Christ’s command.
Failure is the first step in following Christ.
A sinner recognizes that he will be a failure in trying to save himself.
Those who feel sufficient will not turn to Jesus Christ.
This passage teaches us that following Jesus requires faith in Him as one who is sufficient in all things.
If Peter found himself to be a failure at fishing and a sinner in life, He found Christ to be sovereign, righteous, and all-sufficient.
Jesus Christ is the only all-sufficient One.
He is sufficient in forgiveness of sins and of righteousness;
He is sufficient in providing for our physical needs.
To follow Him is to be assured of eternal life.
To follow Him is to be assured of divine guidance and direction.
To follow Him is to be assured of all that is required to do His will.
When Peter realized who it was who called him, the faith to follow him came easily.
He saw Jesus Christ clearly and thus he saw himself clearly and the only conclusion was to forsake all and follow him.
Another thing we can learn from this passage that faith in God is based upon overwhelming evidence.
God does not expect us to have faith based upon nothing.
The message of the Bible is not pie in the sky.
Jesus Christ knew that these men were in turmoil not knowing what to do in regard to following Him.
They, like all men were weak and unbelieving.
But Jesus did not force them to follow him with threats or incentives.
Jesus performed a miracle that their faith be kindled.
For these men, an overflowing of fish, torn nets and two sinking ships was all the evidence they required to see the sufficiency of the Savior.
We are given so much that we might believe.
We are given the resurrection, we are given to see the testimony of the lives that have been transformed by his power.
Finally, we have the testimony of the Scriptures themselves, including this very account in the gospel of Luke.
It is easy to believe Moses, and David, and Isaiah, and Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul as witnesses of the truth and to not believe the false witnesses of this world.
We have ample evidence on which to base our faith.
Our problem is that we do not meditate on these matters often enough.
Our greatest problem as a church and as individual saints, I fear, is that we lack faith, and this is due to an inadequate grasp of the greatness of our God.
We do not know Jesus as we ought.
Peter saw Christ clearly and his greatness clearly and and we need to pay attention to the kind of reaction that resulted in Peter.
There is no reason that same response to Jesus Christ should not happen today when the scriptures are sincerely studied and believed.
Fourth, our text strongly implies that in order to follow Jesus, we must forsake certain things.
In order for Peter, James and John to follow Jesus, they had to leave their ships and their nets.
In the final analysis, they had to leave those things in which they had faith, in which they found their safety, their security, and their significance.
Following Christ, finding Him to be our all-sufficient Savior, requires that we forsake anything besides Him in which we trust, in which we feel secure, in which we feel significant, in which we feel safe.
For the rich young ruler, his trust was in his riches.
Jesus instructed Him to forsake his riches, to sell his possessions and to give the money to the poor, not because rich people cannot be saved, but because God will not let men trust in His Son and something, anything, else.
Selling all of his goods would have been the most beneficial thing (for himself) that this young man could have done, for it would have forced him to place all of his trust in Jesus alone.
We cannot follow two leaders, and we are led by that in which we trust.
Thus, we must have our faith in only one person, Jesus Christ, and in nothing else, if we are to follow Him.
Often times, our greatest problem will come in that area in which we are most skilled, most knowledgeable.
For Peter, this was his skill as a fisherman. Jesus had to show Peter that He knew more than this veteran of the Sea of Galilee, so that Peter could find Jesus the Master and Teacher, even about fishing.
Whatever it is that you find yourself good at, whatever it is that you trust in, is that which you must forsake to follow Christ.
Fifth, our text suggests that if we are to be followers of Christ, we must do what He does.
Jesus came “to seek and to save” the lost.
The disciples were to become “fishers of men” not only because Jesus would command them to do so, but because this is His mission.
These men would become “fishers of men,” not so much because they were fishermen, but because Jesus had come to draw (catch) men into His kingdom.
To follow Christ means to do as He does.
Those who would be followers of Christ cannot ignore the fact that Jesus was a seeker of men, and thus we, too, must be fishers of men.
Evangelism is an inseparable part of the calling of a disciple of Jesus.
Sixth, our text suggests that if we would follow Jesus, we must not only do what He does, but we must do it His way.
Peter thought of himself as an expert at fishing.
Using their finest skills the night before, Peter and his partners caught nothing.
Fishing Jesus’ way, which involved a violation of all of the principles of fishing Peter knew, brought great success.
Following Jesus, in my estimation, means leaving behind many of the “proven methods” of our past.
This statement may trouble many, but there is much truth in it, I believe.
In the early chapters of the book of First Corinthians, the apostle Paul made a point to show how his methods were seemingly silly, and diametrically opposed to the methods of successful speakers of his day.
But in doing things this way, in doing things God’s way, the Spirit of God produces the fruit and God receives the glory.
Let us be careful about what it is we try to bring with us when we seek to follow Jesus.
Not only did Peter and his partners leave behind their boats and their nets, they left their proven fishing methods behind as well.
Seventh, our text suggests that we should not make hasty commitments to follow Christ, nor should we call on others to do so.
Finally, let me conclude by reminding you that Jesus did not press these men to make a hasty decision.
Considerable time passed, and I would suspect that much agony was experienced in the interim.
Why is it that we press men to make hasty decisions, when Jesus did not?
Important decisions should not be made quickly.
Decisions which are good ones, which are lasting ones, are those made slowly, prayerfully, deliberately.
May each of us thoughtfully consider what it means for us to be followers of Jesus Christ.
Let us contemplate His sufficiency, and our sin.
Let us forsake our methods, our sources of security, salvation, and significance.
Let us follow Him.