October 01, 2005

Risk and Reward

Luke 5:1-11

1One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret,with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, 2he saw at the water's edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." 5Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets." 6When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. 8When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" 9For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." 11So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.


"Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." Luke 5:4

One way we often identify ourselves is by our work. Simon Peter, for example, would have identified himself as a fisherman. But then he met Jesus and received an invitation to a whole new vocation. On the shores of Galilee, Jesus not only turned a fishing boat into a floating pulpit; he also turned a fisherman into an evangelist--a "fisher of men" (see Matthew 4:19).

Peter heard the Master's request to take the boat out and catch some fish. His initial reaction might well have been, "Look, I'm a professional fisherman. And I just spent all night in these waters, with nothing to show for it. So why should I go out again and embarrass myself further in front of this crowd?" Despite his initial hesitation, Peter obeyed. And the result was more than enough fish to fill two boats, not just one.

We hear the call of Jesus to become personally involved in his mission, but then we easily say, "It will never work. We're professional church folks around here. We've tried reaching out, and we came up empty. Why should we embarrass ourselves further?" Peter could have refused to follow Jesus' instruction, but he would have missed the miracle. And so will we if we refuse.

This month let's be encouraged to ratchet up our reaching out to become personally involved in Jesus' mission. An exciting adventure awaits all who follow.

Lord, you have invited us to become "fishers of men." Give us the courage and confidence to get involved in your mission. May our lips and lives witness to your grace. Amen.

About the author — Dan Jongsma

Daniel Jongsma serves as an interim pastor in Fulton, Illinois. He has pastored congregations in Elmhurst and Fulton, Illinois; in Dearborn, Michigan; and in Nashville, Tennessee. Dan also served as a church planter in the Chicago area. He and his wife, Gloria, have three daughters and four grandchildren.

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