Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit

Dropping Everything

It has been a while since I have posted on this blog. My time has been devoted to other ventures. However, I keep coming back to the issue of discernment. It is close to the heart of ministry; I am especially cognizant of God’s continual leading. He often calls us in new and different directions. He sometimes surprises us, catches us off guard. God often works like this.

In today’s post, I would like to reflect on this Sunday’s sermon. The text is from Luke 5. While Jesus is teaching a crowd, he requests the use of a boat. It is not uncommon for ancient teachers to use a boat as a pulpit. It would provide a place of visibility and acoustic advantage.

(Luke 5:3 NIV) He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

It just so happens (or maybe it was not coincidence) that the boat belongs to Simon. Jesus has a plan. After he completes the teaching, he has a request for Simon.

(Luke 5:4 NIV) When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Jesus wants Simon to take him fishing. What we later learn is that Simon had been fishing all night with no success. He is tired, probably irritable. First century fisherman did not get paid without a catch. Simon must have been frustrated and questioned Jesus’ sanity (or at least his knowledge about fishing). Jesus’ request made little sense. Let’s keep reading.

(Luke 5:5 NIV) Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

I love this verse. Simon points out the flaw in Jesus’ insistence, yet is willing to obey. Notice how he addresses Jesus; he calls him Master. If we go back to chapter 4, we find Jesus healing Simon’s mother-in-law. If we look at John’s account of Simon’s encounter with Jesus, we know that Simon understands Jesus as the Messiah. Simon’s brother, Andrew, introduced him to Jesus.

(John 1:41 NIV) The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).

This is why Simon is willing to do what does not make sense. He not only calls Jesus Master. He is willing to act on this title. Perhaps you know the rest of the story. They catch a boatload of fish and are hardly able to bring it to shore. Simon is overwhelmed with the glory of God.

(Luke 5:8 NIV) When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”

At this point, they transition from casually following Jesus to “full-on drop everything and follow”. Luke describes it,

(Luke 5:11 NIV) So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

As I reflect on this story, I am challenged in my own discipleship. Too often, we would rather Jesus join us. There must have been a real temptation to capitalize on their fishing success (wanting Jesus to serve as business partner). Just think how much money they could earn with Jesus at their side. Yet, they are willing to leave everything and follow him. As we discern God’s calling in our lives and ministry, are we giving Him lip service (calling him Master) or are we authentically allow him to lead us? Are we more interested in Jesus joining our ventures or are we willing to leave our plans behind to join Him. May we be a people who continually discern the ever-changing, often surprising calling of God in our lives and ministries.