This past week I was speaking with the most enthusiastic fisherman I know personally. He was spending some time up north at his cottage and in spite of the brutally cold temperatures he was telling me how happy he was to go ice fishing. Now I enjoy fishing, but I prefer to be wearing sunglasses and a t-shirt rather than mukluks and a parka when I do! Our respective level of enthusiasm is not the only difference between us, there is also a massive gulf between my friend and I when it comes to fishing knowledge and experience. Therefore, when we go out on his lake I follow his lead.
Imagine what it would have been like for a professional fisherman like Peter to be told by a land-loving carpenter how he ought to fish (see Luke 5:1-11). Keep in mind he had just come in toward the shore, minding and washing his empty nets and no doubt frustrated by his fruitless toil. Do you think this presents the perfect opportunity for a rank amateur to say: “You know, if you would just do it my way I can guarantee success for you”? When Peter expresses some reluctance (“Master, we have toiled all night and took nothing!”) we can completely understand him; but we must also appreciate his obedience (“But at your word I will let down the nets”). From the preceding chapter we know Peter and the others had witnessed Jesus’ teaching in Nazareth and Capernaum: “and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority.” Also in the synagogue Peter witnessed Jesus confronting the man with an unclean demon saying: “Be silent and come out of him!” As the demon departs all are amazed: “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” Finally, Peter had witnessed Jesus himself toiling through the night by laying hands upon and healing “any who were sick” (Luke 4:40). This helps us understand how Peter was able to look past his doubts for he fixed his eyes upon his Christ. He considered his Master’s authority and power: “at your word I will let down the nets.”
As we enter 2018 is there something unusual the Lord is asking you to do? Is there a project you sense a calling to undertake that you know is far beyond your personal capacity, something that if the Lord does not equip and provide for it will not happen? Or do we look at ourselves and think, ‘I know myself and my resources best’, and treat the Lord as an annoying back-seat driver providing unwelcomed direction? My suspicion is that Peter had just as much human pride as any of us, yet submitted to his Master’s word because he knew the authority of his Master’s word. If we are to live lives obedient to our Master’s call we must not only be in proximity to our Master that we hear his voice, but also know our Master intimately such that trust and obedience are the natural consequences in our lives.
This Sunday as Archie Murray shares from this passage I pray that we would hear our Master just as Peter did.
As we gather for Sunday worship, we want you to meet with God and be transformed by the Word. Prepare your heart by reading the passage and listening to the songs for Sunday.