THE CALL TO DISCIPLESHIP (FORSAKING ALL AND FOLLOWING CHRIST) OFFERS THE PROSPECT OF ABUNDANT MINISTRY FRUIT DESPITE OUR SINFULNESS BECAUSE OF THE POWER AND AUTHORITY OF JESUS
How can we with all of our sinfulness possibly be adequate as ministers of the New Covenant? Here in this fishing expedition we have a valuable object lesson depicting the power and authority of Jesus Christ to take ordinary people and equip them to be successful beyond their wildest dreams in gospel ministry. What is required is that we forsake everything and depend completely and only on Jesus as we follow Him in the path of discipleship.
I. (:1-3) TEACHING LESSON – FEEDING THE MULTITUDES THE WORD OF GOD – SETTING THE STAGE FOR THE OBJECT LESSON
A. (:1a) Logistical Problem – Need a Better Platform for Teachinig
“Now it came about that while the multitude were pressing around Him and listening to the word of God,”
J. Ligon Duncan: Jesus is teaching on the shore. There are so many people there that they are having a hard time hearing Him. They are getting closer and closer. He knows that that is making it harder and harder for the people that are on the fringes of this multitude. We don’t know how many are there…hundreds, maybe. And so He decides [since He doesn’t have one of these things] that He is going to get in a boat, go out just a little ways and use the water as His amplification system. If He can get a little distance from them and speak up, more of them will be able to hear Him plainly teach the word of God. But why are they pressing in on Him? Because they want to hear Him. (Again, look at verse 1). They want to hear Him preach and teach the word of God. Jesus is teaching the word of God, and the crowd is responding by pressing in on Him to hear the word of God because they sense the importance of hearing the word of God…of hearing Jesus teach the word of God. They want to hear the word of God.
B. (:1b-2) Recognizing the Resources at Hand
1. (:1b) The Need
“He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret;”
Leon Morris: It measures roughly 13 miles by 7 miles and is situated about 700 feet below sea-level. This is the only place where it is called Gennesaret, the usual name being Galilee (Chinneroth in the Old Testament; Tiberias twice in John).
2. (:2a) The Resources
“and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake;”
3. (:2b) The Opportunity
“but the fishermen had gotten out of them, and were washing their nets.”
Donald Miller: The casting net was circular, and might be as much as nine feet across. It was skillfully cast into the water from the land, or from the shallow water at the edge of the lake. It was weighted with pellets of lead round the circumference. It sank into the sea and surrounded the fishes; it was then drawn through the water as if the top of a bell tent were being drawn to land, and in it the fish were caught. That was the kind of net that Peter and Andrew, and James and John, were handling when Jesus saw them.
C. (:3) Effective Solution
1. Commandeered Simon’s Boat
“And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s,
and asked him to put out a little way from the land.”
Divine appointment; Jesus chose this boat because He was going to focus in later on His encounter with Peter in calling him to leave all and Follow Him. Jesus did nothing by accident.
2. Continued the Teaching Lesson
“And He sat down and began teaching the multitudes from the boat.”
II. (:4-7) FISHING LESSON = OBJECT LESSON – JESUS CAN CATCH A LOT OF FISH
A. (:4) Bold Command – Jesus Knows Where the Fish Are
“And when He had finished speaking, He said to Simon,
‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’”
– Giving instructions to professional fisherman
– Going against what experience and human reason would recommend
– Giving opportunity for the embarrassment of public failure
B. (:5) Natural Impossibility – Human Resources are Not the Issue or the Limitation
“And Simon answered and said, ‘Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but at Your bidding I will let down the nets.’”
– Natural reluctance
– Respectful submission
Donald Miller: Nighttime was the time to fish, not the heat of the day. Furthermore, they had just fished all night and had taken “nothing”! It was useless to make another attempt at that time. Yet Peter had seen Jesus heal, and had just heard him preach. The “authority,” therefore, both of his words and deeds, led Peter to obey his command, even though it ran counter to all his experience in a calling in which he was a master.
C. (:6-7) Supernatural Catch – Fellowship in the Gospel Requires Partnership to Reel in the Huge Catch that Jesus Will Command
“And when they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish; and their nets began to break; and they signaled to their partners in the other boat, for them to come and help them. And they came, and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.”
III. (:8-11) DISCIPLESHIP LESSON = APPLICATION OF THE OBJECT LESSON –
THE PATHWAY OF OBEDIENT CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP INVOLVES FISHING FOR MEN
A. (:8) Jesus Can Deal With Our Doubts and Fears
“But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying,
‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!’”
J. Ligon Duncan: Now it is an amazing thing, isn’t it? There has been nothing in this passage so far said about sin. I don’t know, maybe Jesus preached about it in the sermon, but it is not recorded here. There is nothing in this passage about Jesus’ holiness or about sin, but immediately in the wake of this miracle Peter is overwhelmed by two things: the greatness of Jesus and the greatness of his own sin. He is brought face to face with the inestimable, the incalculable greatness of Jesus and he is brought face to face with the greatness of his own sin.
Donald Miller: It is significant that Peter’s response to Jesus’ miraculous dealing with him lay in the moral and spiritual realm. His attention was not riveted on the marvel. The marvel rather revealed that about Jesus’ Person which made Peter see his own sinfulness. In this is seen the true meaning of Jesus’ miracles. They were signs of the marvel of his Person.
B. (:9-10a) Jesus Will Constantly Amaze Us
“For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.”
Morris: Luke brings out the extraordinary nature of the catch by referring to the astonishment of the fishermen.
C. (:10B) Jesus Keeps Us Focused on the Goal of Fishing for Men
“And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.’”
D. (:11) Jesus Demands That We Forsake All and Follow Him
“And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.”
They left behind the greatest catch of fish they had ever experienced; it meant nothing in comparison to a life dedicated to serving Christ.
Go where the “fish” are.
Use the right “bait.”
It’s never out of season to fish for souls.