Luke 5:1-11 (NIV)
The beach. . . . Aussies seem to have a love affair with the beach. They flock to it in their droves during the warmer months . . . to swim, to surf, to sunbake.
The beach . . . it’s certainly played a big part in my family’s history. As kids, my dad and mum would regularly take us to the beach… And we’ve done that with our boys too. When they were small, Beryl and I would love to watch them splash around in the shallows. They’d get on their boogie boards and ride the little shore waves in.
From time to time, though, I’d say to one of them: “How about I take you out further to where the water is deeper and the waves are better”…. Most of the time, though – especially when they were little tackers – they didn’t want to go. They felt much safer, much more secure when they could stand on the sand and were close to the shore…….
But I’d persist: “Don’t be afraid of the deeper water. Come on. Just a little bit further out. Just to catch one wave. It’ll be fun. Come on. Just try it.”
Why my persistence?….. Because I wanted them to experience the thrills of being in the deeper water…… That’s where the action is…… I’d learnt that as a kid, and I wanted my kids to experience that too . . . to push hard as a 2 or 3 metre wave approached, and then to go speeding down the front of that wave and feel it crash behind you.. . . And there you are being pushed along by the white water . . dodging this way and that . . . just for the fun of it or to avoid a collision with other swimmers….. And your ride goes on for 40 or 50 metres . . . all the way to the shore….. And that’s what I wanted my kids to experience. Not just a 5 metre ride on a quarter of a metre ripple, but a real ride, a real thrill.
In our text for today, Jesus does pretty much the same thing. He urges Simon to go out into the deeper water……. Not just so that Simon could experience the thrill of catching a whole boat-load of fish. That did happen… But Jesus was much more interested in doing something with Simon’s life. He wanted him to experience the thrill of being in a deep, personal relationship with the Lord of life.
Let’s then take a closer look at this encounter that Jesus had with Simon and see the difference he wanted to make in his life . . . and the difference he wants to make in our lives.
The first thing we note is that Jesus wants to take us from where we are to where he wants us to be…… That’s what he did with Simon….. Simon had been washing the nets on the shore while keeping one ear on what Jesus was saying to the crowds…. He didn’t have the time to stop everything and give Jesus his undivided attention. Because he had responsibilities to attend to: fish to catch; nets to wash and repair. His family relied on him to bring in a good catch to eat and to sell.
That’s where Simon was at. But Jesus wanted to take him from where he was at to where he wanted him to be. “Simon”, he said, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
From shallow water to deeper water . . .a picture, a symbol of what Jesus was going to do with Simon’s life . . . to take him from his casual, superficial connection with Jesus to a deeper, more personal and real commitment to Jesus…… And even though Simon is a bit reluctant at first, at least he’s prepared to go to where Jesus wanted him to be. He says: “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
Can I ask you; are you where Jesus wants you to be?…. Is your relationship with Jesus strong and real and alive ….. all the time?….
Do you open up every part of your life for him to have his way in?…. Are you serious about loving him by loving those around you . . . caring for them in tangible ways; sharing your faith with them, and so on?
It’s true, isn’t it, that we haven’t arrived yet. We’re not perfect yet. We’re not fully devoted followers of Jesus yet. We are all works in progress….. And we need to acknowledge that….. And we need to be prepared to leave the security of the shallows, to allow Jesus to take us out of our comfort zone and into deeper waters . . . to be able to say: “It’s scary, Lord. I don’t like giving up control of my life to you. But because you say so, I’m prepared to go. I’m prepared to let you take me from where I am to where you want me to be.”
And what happens when we get out into the deeper water?…. That’s the next thing Jesus wants to teach us in this story. We learn to trust him more fully.
When we’re in the shallows, we don’t need to trust him. We can rely on ourselves…. Like my kids in the shallows at the beach. If they fell over, they could just stand up again.
That’s no problem in a foot of water….. But when I took them out deeper – where they couldn’t touch the bottom – that’s where they had to trust me . . . that I’d be there to put them back on their boogie board if they fell off . . that I wouldn’t push them down a wave that would dump them.
Some of you know what it’s like to be taken from the shallows where you’ve been safe, secure, comfortable and out into deeper waters… It might be because of an illness or a crisis – either to you or someone you know. And all of a sudden you’re moving out into uncharted waters. And the swell is bigger and more powerful. And you can’t see the bottom. And it can be scary, it really can… Until you realize that God is right there with you in the deeper water….. He’s not abandoning you in that illness or crisis. In fact, it becomes an opportunity for you to trust him more fully . . . that even though you don’t know exactly where current will take you, Jesus does. And he’ll see you through.
Here’s one final point that I want to highlight from the text. When we move from the shallows to the deeper water, our perspective changes. We start to see what’s really important in life. We become more concerned about what Jesus is concerned about.
Think of the 45 year old man who is in the prime of his life. He looks at the paper each morning to see how his share portfolio is going. He’s spending lots of time and energy at his work because he still has some rungs to climb up the corporate ladder. He doesn’t see his wife or kids much, but that’s a small price to pay for the success he’s achieved…. But then – out of the blue – comes a heart attack! And he’s taken out of the shallows and he’s in deep water…. And all of a sudden his perspective changes….. He’s more interested in seeing the sun rising in the morning than reading his morning paper….. He’s more interested in spending time with those who really count – with his wife and kids – than spending time at the office.. And in so many other ways, what was important before is no longer important now. His perspective has changed.
We have a saying: “I’m in deep water.”….. It’s got a negative connotation, hasn’t it. It’s saying: “I’m in big trouble.” …. But if it’s God who leads you into deep water, there’s always a positive side to it….. Because God will be using it to give you an opportunity to reflect and refocus and realize what really is important in your life….. He’ll be giving you an opportunity to change your perspective on life ….. to be less concerned about what the world is concerned about and more concerned about what he is concerned about.
That’s what happened to Simon. Before his encounter with Jesus, he was wrapped up in catching fish. But after Jesus took him out into the deeper waters, he got fired up about catching people . . . about sharing the good news of Jesus with those who were lost.
Could it be that Jesus has taken you into deep waters right now because he wants you to change your perspective in some area of your life so that it lines up more closely with his?…… Perhaps in your attitude to others. Or in your attitude to earthly possessions. Or in your attitude to those who don’t know Jesus. Or in some other area?……. It’s worth thinking about, because Jesus often uses ‘deep water’ experiences to get us to do some soul searching, to do some major re-focusing.
Can I close with where I began – with my kids at the beach. “Don’t be afraid of the deep water”, I’d say to them…… And through our text for today, Jesus is saying that to us too. “Don’t be afraid of the deep water…… Because I’m taking you from where you are to where I want you to be…. Because out there in the deep, that’s where you’re going to trust me more fully……
Because in the deep water, you’re going to be more concerned about the things that I’m concerned about.”
And that’s when life gets thrilling!….. Not in the shallows, but out in the deep ….. with Jesus! Amen.
Pastor Rob Paech