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TELL ME THE STORY OF JESUS: The Ministry

Tell Me the Story of Jesus: The Ministry

This is the third message in our series on Jesus Christ and who He is. Today we look at how Jesus chose His team of disciples. No one does ministry alone including Jesus. Early in His ministry he began to look for those that would follow Him and eventually become the spear point that would thrust the message of Good News into the entire world. He didn’t look for religious people he looked for people that would be open to allowing Him to radically change and transform them from failures to followers and from sinners to servants.

 One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there. 

 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.” 

 “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking. 

 When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m too much of a sinner to be around you.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.
Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.”
Luke 5:1-11

What did Jesus say to those He invited to follow Him?

Of course the “be all end all” of the message Christ spoke to His disciples would have to be the Sermon on the Mount. But let’s look at some of the most personal invitations. When He invited someone to follow Him there was usually a message in beyond just “follow Me.”

  • When He called Matthew the tax collector: “Follow Me and be my disciple.” 
  • To the immoral woman who wept as she washed His feet, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” 
  • Upon hearing that His family was outside He responded, “My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.” 
  • To a man freed from demons who insisted on following Christ: “No, go back to your family, and tell them everything God has done for you.” 
  • To those who expressed an interest in following Him: “Foxes have dens to live in and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to even lay His head.” “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.” “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” 
  • When someone cried out from the crowd blessing His mother: “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” 
  • To a woman caught in the act of adultery: “Neither do I condemn you, Go and sin no more.” 
  • To the “people who believed in Him:” “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
     

The call and message of Jesus remains the same today. Nothing has changed. Everyone that is a Christfollower is called to ministry and they are called to be like Christ. 

1. It is a call to deeper commitment

 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.” 

 “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking. 

Simon had been washing and mending his nets, while keeping one ear listening to what Jesus was teaching. After all he had other responsibilities and duties to perform. He had to fish to make a living for his family. Jesus’ call for Simon to launch out into deeper water is an analogy of what He wants to do in Simon’s life. Jesus is going to take Simon Peter to deeper, more personal commitment to Himself.

When we hear the call to launch out deeper we are tempted to compromise our obedience in several ways.

A. We are tempted to be guided by our friends

Undoubtedly the advice of his friends, the other veteran fishermen who overheard what Jesus said would be, “Peter don’t do it. You have your nets all cleaned and stored. If you go back out you will have to do it all over again, for nothing.” If you listen to some of your friends they would say, “Sure go to church if want to but don’t get fanatical about it?” When you get serious about Jesus often even your best friends won’t go along with it.

B. We are tempted to be guided by our experiences

The Lord asks Peter to do something contrary to his own expertise in fishing. According to everything that he knows about fishing, and he is a professional, he can’t see anyway at all that what Jesus asks is going to work. The best fishing on the Sea of Galilee was at night close to shore. But Jesus had asked him to launch out into the deep in the middle of the day. This was asking a great deal of Peter. He was asking him to trust His Word. He was in effect asking Simon to try again even though he had failed in the past. This of course would be an important lesson for Peter in the future, not to allow past failure to keep him from serving the Lord. God may ask you to try again even if you have failed in the past. Will you allow past failure to keep you from following the Lord?

C. We are tempted to be guided by our by our circumstances

Verse five reveals that Simon’s answer “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” By his reply he communicates that he and his partners are dog tired, the word translated “toiled” indicates very hard work, they had not slept all night and they had worked hard all night. The circumstances of the past evening have indicated that further fishing will be fruitless. But Jesus was asking them to take the freshly cleaned nets and row out to the deep water and go through strenuous process of letting out and taking in the nets all over again. But they needed to learn that obedience to Jesus should not hinge upon favorable circumstances.

D. We are tempted to be guided by our fears

The greatest obstacle that we face in life is our own fear. The fear of being inadequate, the fear of failure. Ultimately it will probably mean very little if you do not overcome fear and go sky-diving, but it is a tremendous loss if you do not overcome the fear of following Christ. What is fear keeping you from doing for God?

In Peter’s reply he reveals his respect when he calls Jesus, “Master” (epistates). Underline the word master. This word means master or teacher and is the Greek equivalent of “rabbi.” Peter showed his love and respect for Christ by not letting his better judgment hinder his obedience.

How does Jesus take us from where we are to where he wants us to be? By pushing us, that’s how.

Perhaps doing things your own way has left you empty, and it’s time to give God’s way a try. Maybe your own knowledge and skills have failed you and you need God’s power, God’s knowledge and God’s skill. You need to do things God’s way. Maybe its time for you today to obey God and try things His way, even it you don’t understand where, why or how it’s all going to work out. I realize that launching out into the deeper water is scary and it is less familiar but it were God’s blessings are to be found.

The results of obedience are recorded in verse six and seven, “And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. (7) So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.
As they harvested their catch, the two boats, each seven and half feet wide and over twenty-seven feet long, were filled to overflowing and began sinking. Several tons of fish were hauled ashore that day in the midst of roar of a delighted crowd.

2. It is a call that creates intimacy 

 When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m too much of a sinner to be around you.”
At first his request seems strange, if we take it at face value, that he would ask Jesus to leave. But we have to understand the scene in the light of what has happened. This new revelation of the power and glory of Jesus has given Peter an acute sense of his own sinfulness. Peter was not really trying to get rid of Jesus; he was simply overcome with a sense of his own unworthiness. When he calls Jesus, “Lord” it is an entirely different word than used previously in verse five, underline the word Lord, this is (kurios) and is reserved by the Jews as a description of GOD. Peter’s reaction is what we often see in the Bible as man’s reaction to face-to-face confrontation with God. 

When the prophet Isaiah “… saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up” he declared, “Woe is me, for I am undone!” (Isaiah 6:1, 5). Job had much the same experience; “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. (6) Therefore I abhor ( despise) myself, And repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6). And John would write of his experience in Revelation 1: 17, “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead….”

When first introduced to the power and majesty of the Lord we are immensely aware of our own sin, and do not know what to do but try to escape from his presence. Simon asked Jesus to leave him, not because he does not want to be in his presence but because he feels unworthy of being there. But as our experience deepens, and we gain the knowledge that only in Him can we experience the forgiveness of our sins, then a consciousness of our sin drives us to him.

Let me illustrate from Peter’s own life.

According to John 21 “after the Resurrection Peter, deeply anguished over his denials of Christ, ‘went back to Galilee and in the calm of his old haunts decided to go fishing – perhaps to clear his head and sort things out. He and his old friends fished the night away without success.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered. He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, ‘It is the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water “(vv. 4-7).

Peter stood before Jesus, beard dripping, breathless from his plunge and charge to shore. Peter dashed to Jesus because he knew himself for what he was (all fleshly presumption is gone – he knew he was a weak, frail sinner) and also because he knew so much better now who Jesus was.”[R. Kent Hughes. Luke: That You May Know the Truth. Vol. One. (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1998) pp. 162-163]

3. It is a call that promotes a new way of living

For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.
Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.”

Jesus told Peter that his future business would not be catching fish, bringing them from life to death, but catching men, bringing them from death to life. The word translated “catch” in verse ten is literally “to catch alive” as taking animals alive for a circus or a zoo. Sometimes it seems that we think that there are two kinds of Christians: those who catch the animals for the zoo and those who come to look at them. But this is not the way it is supposed to be. The church is not a spectator society in which we go to the zoo, to see what is happening we are all supposed to be involved in the process.

Every miracle had its purpose and this one is no exception. Peter now sees Jesus in an entirely new light. Jesus is Lord and he is a sinful man. Peter saw his own reluctance to obey the Lord’s command to let down the nets as sin.

Peter had just confessed to being a sinner and testified to the greatness of His Lord. Jesus responds in the second half of verse ten by a command not to fear and promise that he is to be a fisher of men; “….And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”

So they pulled their boats to shore and by every indication they turned their backs on the biggest catch of their lives and followed him. Verse eleven says,

And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.”

The word “followed” is a word which signifies the deepest inward attachment.
“The response of leaving everything, …implies a question. Must all disciples leave their vocations to serve Jesus? How is the call of believers like and unlike this call to Peter?

The answer to that question emerges in the history of the church. As the New Testament letters show, not everyone is called into full-time ministry. In fact, Paul kept right on working as a tentmaker as he ministered. The important element is that the call to walk with Jesus takes a priority, so that we are prepared to be whatever or wherever God calls us to be. Answering the call to serve Christ through the church in full-time ministry is a unique call that not everyone is cut out for.

For some, like the healed Gerasene demonic, it means staying home to testify to Jesus (8:38-39. For some, it may mean the mission field; for others it may mean the mission field at their daily job or in a parachurch ministry. The mission is ‘catching men.’ Sometimes one’s work is the best place to find the fish….”
 
Today God is coming to you, and He is calling you by name. You know that He wants you – not just someone, but you for a larger destiny. He is inviting you to join Him in a powerful mission to a lost world. Will you answer the call?

Will you let Him do what He wants to shape you and clean you up in such a way that you are living above reproach? Will you trust Him with your life and your future?

A young boy by the name of James had a desire to be the most famous manufacturer and salesman of cheese in the world. He planned on becoming rich and famous by making and selling cheese and began with a little buggy pulled by a pony named Paddy. After making his cheese, he would load his wagon and he and Paddy would drive down the streets of Chicago to sell the cheese. As the months passed, the young boy began to despair because he was not making any money, in spite of his long hours and hard work.

One day he pulled his pony to a stop and began to talk to him. He said, "Paddy, there is something wrong. We are not doing it right. I am afraid we have things turned around and our priorities are not where they ought to be. Maybe we ought to serve God and place him first in our lives." The boy drove home and made a covenant that for the rest of his life he would first serve God and then would work as God directed.

Many years after this, the young boy, now a man, stood as Sunday School Superintendent at North Shore Baptist Church in Chicago and said, "I would rather be a layman in the North Shore Baptist Church than to head the greatest corporation in America. My first job is serving Jesus."

So, every time you take a take a bite of Philadelphia Cream cheese, sip a cup of Maxwell House, mix a quart of Kool-Aid, slice up a DiGiorno Pizza, cook a pot of Macaroni & Cheese, spread some Grey Poupon, stir a bowl of Cream of Wheat, slurp down some Jell-O, eat the cream out of the middle of an Oreo cookie, or serve some Stove Top, remember a boy, his pony named Paddy, and the promise little James L. Kraft made to serve God and work as He directed. Adapted by Brett Blair from Michael Green, Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, Baker, p. 331.

God expects us to obey Him, simply because He has spoken. It is at His command and on the basis of it that we spiritually launch out into deeper water and let down the nets. He accomplishes the results.
Kierkegaard once said “To become an ‘admirer of Jesus’ is much easier than to become a follower.



2009/01/26