TITLE: You Lead the Way! SCRIPTURE: Luke 5:1-11
Being a parent isn't easy. We think we know what would be good for our children, but our children don't want to hear it. The story is told of a mother who had a particularly difficult day with her young son. Finally she flung her hands in the air and shouted, "All right, Billy. Do anything you darn well please! Now let me see you disobey THAT!"
Harry Truman had some advice on the subject. He said:
I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.
Someone else noted that there are three ways to get something done:
–– You can do it yourself.
–– Or you can hire someone to do it.
–– Or you can tell your kids not to do it.
When I give advice to my child and he disregards it, I am torn. Part of me is glad that he has enough spunk to chart his own course. But another part of me is sad, because I am just trying to help him to avoid the mistakes I made. I had to learn the hard way. Most of us have to learn the hard way.
But sometimes children have someone in their lives that they really trust. Maybe it was your grandfather or grandmother, or an uncle or aunt. They had the kind of wisdom and strength that you could count on––so you obeyed them.
I am reminded of a special relationship like that when I read this story of Simon Peter and Jesus. Jesus was walking by the seaside when he saw some fishermen washing their nets after fishing all night. This is the first time Simon's name is mentioned in this Gospel, but it is clear from the story that he knows Jesus. Jesus got in Simon's boat and asked Simon to put out a little way from the shore. Simon quit washing his nets and did as Jesus asked. Then Jesus began to teach from the boat –– to teach people who were crowding the shore.
That was a nice thing for Peter to do –– a generous act. When a man is in the middle of a job that has to be done –– washing nets, for instance –– he doesn't want to be distracted. Did you ever notice that? Did you wives ever notice that your husband doesn't want to be interrupted when he is doing something that has to get done –– like washing the car –– or mowing the lawn –– or watching a football game.
But Jesus asked Simon to stop washing nets so that Simon might take him offshore in the boat, and Simon did that.
To appreciate that obedience, you need to know that it was morning and that Simon and his friends had spent the whole night in their boats –– fishing. That might sound like great fun, but there is fun-fishing and work-fishing. Fun-fishing is going out with friends, and if you catch a fish that's fine –– but if you don't catch a fish, that's fine too.
But work-fishing is different. The work-fisherman doesn't go fishing as a break from the routine. Fishing IS his routine. He fishes for a living. After fishing all night, he is tired and dirty and ready to go home. The last thing in the world that he wants to do is to get back in his boat and start rowing. But Jesus got in Simon's boat and asked Simon to put out a little way from the shore, and Simon did that. I admire Simon for his obedience.
But that was just the beginning. After teaching the crowds from the boat, Jesus told Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." Let me ask you a question. We'll see if you have been paying attention. The question is: Where were the nets?
The nets were onshore –– that's where they were. Simon and his friends had fished all night, and they had been washing their nets –– getting ready to call it a day –– getting ready to go home and take a shower and eat some breakfast and go to bed. So for Simon to put out into the deep water and let down his nets, he would first have to go ashore to load the nets into the boat –– the nets that they had just washed. He would have to get his friends to help him, because the nets were heavy. Then he and his friends would have to row the boat offshore to the deep water.
Simon didn't want to do that. He said, "Master, we have worked all night long, but have caught nothing." NOTHING! The fish aren't biting! It's time to go home!
There's another little fact that you need to know. Simon and his friends were fishermen–– real fishermen –– the kind of fishermen who go fishing all day every day. They knew fishing like the back of their hand. They knew the lake like the back of their hand.
Jesus was NOT a fisherman. Jesus was a carpenter. He spent some time around fishermen, but I don't know that he ever caught a fish. So this carpenter was telling this fisherman how to catch fish. That isn't exactly a prescription for "How to Win Friends and Influence People," is it! It's a good way to get the fisherman to walk off the job ––while muttering some words that you don't want to hear.
But Simon didn't walk off the job. Simon told Jesus that they had fished all night without catching anything, but then he said, "Yet if YOU say so, I will let down the nets."
That says lot about Simon and his relationship to Jesus. "Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets." And he did. Simon went back to the shore and got his friends to help him load the nets. They rowed out to the deep water and cast their clean nets into the dirty water one more time. And they caught so many fish that they thought their nets would break –– and their boats would sink.
So what is the point of this story? What was Jesus hoping to accomplish by letting Simon Peter and his friends catch lots of fish? I can tell you that the point of the great catch was not to make Simon rich. The point of the great catch was to show Simon that Jesus was someone special –– a man sent from God. That is clear from the next part of the story. Peter didn't respond to the great catch by saying, "Thanks, Jesus! I needed that! Now I can pay the rent." He responded by saying:
"Go away from me, Lord,
for I am a sinful man."
Simon Peter sensed that there was something Godly about Jesus and he didn't feel worthy to stand in the presence of this Godly man. But Jesus said:
"Do not be afraid;
from now on you will be catching people."
So Simon Peter and his partners beached their boats and left everything to follow Jesus. And that was the beginning –– just the beginning. Before it was over, Simon Peter and his friends had changed the world. Our presence here today is a witness to the fact that Simon Peter and his friends, following Christ, changed the world.
Jesus didn't give Peter an easy life, but he did give him a blessed life. The day that Peter left his boat behind, he started a new life –– a life full of purpose. He didn't spend the rest of his life just going through the motions. He didn't have to wonder if his life was worth living. Every day with Jesus was a new adventure for this man called Simon Peter.
Which reminds me of something that Charles Allen said. Allen was a well-known preacher a generation or two ago. He took part in Billy Graham's second crusade. Graham was just a young man, but had enjoyed great success in Los Angeles. Now people were pouring into the arena at Augusta, Georgia to hear Graham preach. As they watched people take their seats, Graham turned to Allen and said:
"I never dreamed God would give me the ministry he's given me today.
I just said, 'God, I'm going to give you all I have now.
And you lead the way.'"
"God, I'm going to give you all I have now. And you lead the way." That prayer changed Graham's life. It was like Peter leaving his boat to follow Jesus. It put Jesus in charge!
Graham prayed that little prayer –– "God, I'm going to give you all I have now. And you lead the way" –– and God made more of Graham's life than Graham had ever imagined possible.
I would like to take a minute to teach you that prayer, because that prayer, prayed honestly, can change your life too. Repeat it after me:
"God, I'm going to give you
all I have now.
And you lead the way."
That prayer is printed in the bulletin Take your bulletin home and memorize it. Pray it! Pray it honestly! Give Jesus all that you have and all that you are–– and watch to see what he does with your life. Every day will be a new adventure if you put Jesus in charge.
Lord of the Dance (CO #527; GC #708; JS #554; PH #302; TH #352; UMH #261; VU #352; WR #118)
Also known as I Danced in the Morning
Lord, Speak to Me (BH #568; LBW #403; PH #426; TNCH #531; UMH #463; VU #589; WR #593)
Also known as Lord, Speak to Us
Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore (CH #342; CO #649; GC #696; JS #595; PH #377; UMH #344; WR #347)
Also known as "Lord, When You Came to the Seashore"
Also known as "Tu, Has Venido a la Orilla"
Will You Come and Follow Me (CP #430; GC #700; TFWS #2130; VU #567; WR #350)
Also known as The Summons
Dear Lord and Father of Mankind (BH #267; CH# 594; LBW #506; PH #345; TH #652, 653; TNCH #502; UMH #358; WR #470)
Take My Life and Let it be Consecrated (BH #277 or 283; CH #609; CP #435; LBW #406; LW #404; PH #391; TH #707; TNCH #448; UMH #399; VU #506; WR #466)
Also known as "Take My Life, That I May Be"