Encounters: On The Shore

Leading up to Luke 5, Jesus has been speaking the word of God in the desert, the temple and the synagogue, driving out an evil spirit, and healing the sick. Up to this point in the story, Jesus did not have any disciples. I guess I always thought that when Jesus started his public ministry, the first thing he did was go out and get some disciples. But there it is in Luke’s gospel- Jesus traveled and ministered on his own.

He’s teaching again, speaking the word of God. One of the things that sticks out to me as I read the first five chapters of Luke is the commitment, priority, and focus Jesus gives to God’s Word. There is a crowd of people standing around him, listening to him. The Bible does not tell us why Jesus decides to teach from a different place – perhaps the crowd was too large, or it was uncomfortable to see everyone because some were too close, or Jesus simply needed to sit down. Regardless of the reason, Jesus sees a boat with a couple of guys in it, turns their fishing boat into his platform and finished his teaching just a little away from the shore.

But the story doesn’t end there. After Jesus is finished speaking, he speaks directly to Simon. And I love Jesus’ words here: “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” The deep water is where the fish are, so the deep water is where a fishing boat was made to sail. A fishing boat was not intended to stay close to the shore as a speaking platform or floating stage.

Go into the deep water. You’ve heard God call you in this way, right? Go out where the water is rough. Go wade into a situation where you can sink. And don’t forget to put your nets down. Get to work and do the thing you think is impossible. Go out and accomplish something difficult, achieve an unfathomable goal.

You know what the deep water feels like. You especially know what it feels like to try to achieve something incredible, something God-inspired in the midst of difficulty (leadership issues, division in the church or staff, a lack of volunteers, being the only person dedicated to kids and families, a lack of budget or buy-in, no one showing up…but you).

I’m reminded of Psalm 42, a beautiful song written by the sons of Korah who held the responsibility for temple worship.

“Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.
By day the Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me—
    a prayer to the God of my life.” Psalm 42:7-8

Notice, Simon and the other fisherman knew all about deep water, too. In fact, they had just come back from the deep water. Empty. Zero fish. Not only had they failed, but they also were now without a catch and the means to feed themselves and their families. It cost them to be out on the deep water all night, hard at work. But Simon replies to Jesus direction, “But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

You already know what this means.

But. Because. You. Say. So. Here’s the word of God again. God’s word spoke to Simon personally, it penetrated Simon’s heart and transformed it. It gave him energy to obey, even though his mind said, “WASTE OF TIME.” And that’s how Jesus found his first disciples – those who followed His words in deep water.

My prayer for you this week is that God’s Word would be your ballast as you put out into the deep water. That the words of God would hold you fast, give you energy and hope, power and vision for all He has called you to accomplish.

We added a song to the Spotify playlist for the Encounters Lent Devotional series. Pause and listen to this as you reflect on the Scripture passages today.

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