Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Day at the Beach, Because you Say So

Have you ever been tired?  I mean, dead beat tired?  They had fished all night and caught nothing, nada, zip and they were exhausted, but there was still work to do.  The nets had to be washed to get the seaweed and guck out and everything had to be put away before they could go home and go to bed.  Bed!  What a magical, mystical, wonderful word.

Right then, I’m sure the promise of sleep was the highest thing on their list of priorities. As they washed and tended the nets their friend Jesus showed up and began to preach to a few people.  And it was always the same, the few people became a few more and a few more and finally there was a whole crowd listening to the carpenter.  And as the crowd pushed forward to hear the words of Christ he kept backing up until he was at the very edge of the beach, and then it was as if he had just noticed the fisherman, and as Peter and his partners begin to load the net back into their boats Jesus yelled,  “Hey Pete can I use the boat for a few minutes?” 

This is week two of our “A Day at the Beach” series.  Through January and into February we are focusing on the events in Jesus life that happened in and around the Sea of Galilee.   Which as we explained last week wasn’t even a sea it was just a good sized lake.  And maybe you are thinking “Well why did they call it a sea?”  Because.  And why would we call it a lake?  In Newfoundland they would call it Galilee Pond. 
But what is interesting that Luke doesn’t call it the Sea of Galilee, and yes I know that in our reading this morning from the New Living Translation it appears that Luke does exactly that.  Actually if you were following along in your Bibles, you would have noticed an asterisk,  Luke 5:1 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.   And down at the bottom of the page it would have said something like *“Greek: Lake Gennesaret, another name of the Sea of Galilee.”
If you were using other translations it would read something like, Luke 5:1 (NIV)  One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God,
If I’m clear on this, the original name was Lake Gennesaret, and that gradually morphed into the Sea of Galilee because it was situated in Galilee and eventually when the Roman city of Tiberius became more prominent people starting calling it Lake Tiberius.  
Story is told of a very boastful lady who visited the Holy Land and when she came back she told her pastor “We visited both the sea of Galilee and Lake Gennesaret.”  Her pastor corrected her by saying “Actually Galilee and Gennesaret are synonymous.” To which the lady replied, “Oh I know that but I found the Sea of Galilee to be just a little more synonymous.”   Luke was most likely the more formally educated of the gospel writers and whenever he refers to the body of water it is by its older name.
But really that is neither here nor there. So let’s go back to the story.  Jesus shows up once again on the beach that was Simon Peter’s home port, so to speak. Remember last week, I spoke about Jesus’ initial call to Peter, Jesus met him on the beach and invited Peter to follow him. 
This time there is a crowd following Jesus and he begins to preach.  All the while Peter is washing his nets in preparation for stowing them for the day.  And as the crowd pushes in against Jesus while he is preaching he notices that there are two empty boats on the shore and he asks Peter if he can borrow his to preach from. 
I’m not sure that having his boat used as a floating pulpit was nearly as high on Peter’s priority list as getting a little sleep was.  I remember what it was like to fish all night, and want nothing more than to go to bed, but friends have to do what friends have to do. 
So Peter pushed the boat out a little bit, threw out the anchor and no doubt laid his head down on the drying nets to get a little bit of shut eye.  And as he drifted off in the gradually warming sun Christ’s words became a drone in the back ground, until he heard, “ Peter, hey Peter,” and it’s in Luke 5: that we can read the unusual request that Jesus made to Peter,  Luke 5:4 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.”
Jesus turned a fishing boat into a pulpit, and now he was turning the pulpit into a fishing boat.  And when I read this I realized first that “Every pulpit should be a fishing boat”.  There should always be a clear call from the pulpit for people to begin a relationship with Christ.  And the second thing I realized is that “Every fishing boat should be a pulpit.”  That is to say that our actions and words should always point people to Christ and wherever and whatever your fishing boat might be that you will point people to a relationship with Christ.    Wow, I could almost stop now and call it a sermon.  But I won’t. 

So you get the picture, Peter has been fishing all night, Jesus comes along and asks to borrow his boat, and Peter agrees.  Up to this point Jesus hasn’t been asking a lot from Peter, all Peter has to do is watch and listen.  He is just an observer in the game, and maybe he could have been home in bed, but listening to Jesus preach wasn’t overly demanding. 

Kind of like coming to church.  And lot of folks think that all that is required is to watch and listen.  I mean they could be home in bed, but church is overly demanding.  But this becomes a game changer.

Now, Jesus is asking Peter to go from being an observer to being a participant. And there will come a time, if you are following Jesus, that Jesus will call you from being an observer to being a participant, to get some skin in the game so to speak.  And listen to Peter’s reply,  Luke 5:5 “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.”

Listen to it again: Luke 5:5 “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.”  Did you catch that?  Peter wasn’t going to do it because he wanted to, he wasn’t doing it because it made sense, he was doing it because Jesus asked him to do it.  

And there was so much wrapped up in those five words.  Because if we stop and think about it Peter was actually saying,  1) Because You Say So I Will Put Aside Past Experiences  The reason that Peter was cleaning his nets was because they had already been fishing, when fishing was supposed to be done, at night.

Peter knew from past experience that when the hot sun came out that the fish normally went deeper in Galilee to escape the heat.  That it was only in the cool of the evening that the fish came back to the surface to feed.  And with the type of fishing that they were doing it was no good to cast your net on the surface when the fish weren’t there. 

When I was fishing with Dad we started as a midwater trawler, and when we were trawling we could do that during the day, the net went deep.  But then we had the boat re-configured as a herring seiner and after that most of our fishing was done at night, when the fish were closer to the surface. 

Peter didn’t fish at night because he preferred fishing at night, he fished at night because that’s when you could catch the most fish.  Apparently there were times that they would fish from the shore during the day, we read one of those accounts last week from Mark’s gospel.  Remember Mark 1:16 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living.  But from the other accounts that we read it seems as if when they were fishing from the boat in deeper water that it happened after the sun went down. 
Sometimes our biggest challenge to doing what God is asking us to do is our past experience.  We tried that or something similar to that and the results weren’t favorable, so we aren’t going to do it again.  Kind of like the old statement “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.”
Sometimes God asks us to do something we have absolutely no experience at, throughout the bible we see all kinds of examples of that, Noah was asked to build a really big boat.  He didn’t even know what a boat was, he had never seen a boat, and didn’t live close enough to a body of water to float a really big boat.  Abraham was asked to sacrifice the son he had waited so long for, Moses was told to walk into the Red Sea, Joshua was asked to march the people of Israel around Jericho and then blow their horns.  David was told to take a little sling and annoy a really big giant with it. 

And Peter was asked to set his nets in the middle of the day.  And because Jesus asked him to, Peter did it. 

How often are we guilty of not doing what we are supposed to be doing using the same old excuses?  You know the ones through the years I’ve heard them in churches and I’ve been guilty of using them:   1) We’ve never done that before, 2) we always do it this way, 3) We tried that once but it didn’t work.

And it’s tough to break out of the routine, even when the routine isn’t working.  I’ve talked to Pastor’s and churches that keep doing the same thing year after year and getting the same dimal results, maybe you’ve seen the same thing in businesses or families.  It’s easier to keep doing what doesn’t work than to take a chance on something new, maybe we need to listen to  Dakota tribal wisdom passed from generation to generation that tells us, “If you find yourself riding a dead horse, get off.” It won’t do any good to reflect on all the great times you had riding the horse when it was still alive, if the horse is dead we need to get off.

The flip side of that coin is when you tried something once and it didn’t work so you vow you will never do it again,   Mark Twain tells us, “If a cat sits on a hot radiator it will never sit on a hot radiator again, but then again he’ll never sit on a cold radiator either.”

So, when God calls you to obedience are you willing to set aside your past experience?  But it has to go beyond that.  Peter had to be willing to say 2) Because you say so I will set aside personal pride.

How hard is it to take advise from someone who really isn’t experienced at what you do?  I would find it difficult to take preaching instruction from someone who wasn’t a public speaker, well actually I find it hard to take preaching instruction from anyone, but that is a different story. 

And it would be so easy for Peter to say “Excuse me pal, but why don’t you go back to your saw horse?”  Jesus wasn’t a fisherman, he was a carpenter turned preacher, what did he know about fishing? 

It was Simon Ford, the owner of the Grand Union hotel in NY city “There’s nothing to running a hotel, you don’t have to know what to do, all you do is open the doors and all of your guests will tell you what to do.”  And sometimes it seems that we go through life with people telling us what to do and into Peter’s life comes Jesus who wants him to do what just doesn’t make sense. 

There was a crowd of people gathered that day, and I would suspect that some of them were either fishermen or knew fishermen.  I wonder what they thought of Peter’s mid-morning fishing expedition.  “Hey Peter, what are you doing?”  “I think you should have gone to bed, the hot sun has made you crazy.” 

You ever feel like  saying “God if I do that, then people will question my sanity.”?  That’s probably what Noah thought when God asked him to build an ark, probably what David thought when he took on Goliath with a few stones and a sling shot.  Maybe what Solomon thought when he was called to build the temple, or what Gideon thought when we was called to take on an army with 300 men. 

Are you willing to tell God, I will do what you want regardless of what people say?  But there was a very practical reason why Peter could have said no, but he was willing to say. . .  3) Because You Say so I Will Put Aside my Own Weariness.  I would suspect that Peter was tired.  Remember what he told Jesus?  We worked hard all night.  A long night fishing, then there was cleaning the net, and when he should have gone home he pushes his boat out so Jesus can use it to preach from.  Peter must have been whipped. 

In 2014 we think we have a market on being tired.  But Denn you don’t understand, we have busy life, there so much stress in our lives, so many things we have to do with the kids and then God wants me to do what?

I’m sure Peter was thinking not just about how tired he was but the other stuff he still had to do when he got home. 

One of the great promises that Jesus made is found in Matthew 11:28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  I bet there are all kinds of reasons why we are tired and very few of them come from what God asks us to do.   It might well be that it seems difficult to fit what God wants us to do on the pile, but what if it’s the pile that’s wrong?  Could it be a matter of priorities?  Maybe instead of shelving what God wants us to do, we need to see what is eating into that time. 
When we don’t have time to spend with God is it because we’ve spent that time somewhere else?  Maybe if  God asked to be friends on Facebook, or was on primetime TV, or could sit next to us in a cold hockey rink or a warm beach.  Just saying.
It’s easy to quote Jesus telling us that he will give us rest, but let’s not forget the rest of what Jesus was saying.  Matthew 11:29-30 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”  Jesus knew that Peter was tired but there was still more for Peter to do. 
The interesting thing here is that for Peter, when he put aside his weariness he was rewarded.  Let’s go back to the story.  You remember we left off in Luke 5:5 “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.”   So let’s pick up there, Luke 5:6-7 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.   There could be an entire sermon preached on how tired we are from chasing nothing, when God offers to reward us with everything, but that is another day. 
Don’t miss out on what God has for you simply because it seems like it would be too much work.  It was Football Coach Vince Lombardi who said “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”  Are you able to put aside your personal weariness to be obedient?
But ultimately it all comes down to Peter saying 4) Because You Say so I Will Obey  That’s really the bottom line. Are we willing to tell God: “Even when I would rather be doing something else I will obey?”  In the long run it would save us a lot of grief.

We’ve said before, God doesn’t ask us to do some things and not do other things to be a spoil sport.  He does it for our good and our benefit.  At the end of the day Peter casting his net into the water benefited Peter.  He couldn’t see it before it happened and it wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t done it. 

And perhaps this was when Jesus realized that Peter was the one who would go on to lead the church that would change the world, after all it goes right along with what Jesus said in  Luke 16:10 “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.
And ultimately our obedience to God and his word is the litmus test to how we really feel about Him.   Which is why we read in  John 14:23 Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. And then we read in John 15:10 Jesus said “When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.”   Seems to be a recurring theme.

There is a story told about Arthur Wellesley, whom many of you would know as the Duke of Wellington, the British General who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.  It seems that going into battle that Wellington ordered his officers to do something to which one of his officers objected and told him that would be impossible.  To which Wellington replied saying “You go ahead and do it, because I don’t give impossible commands.”

The truth is that God calls people all the time to do the impossible and that’s the adventure because anyone can do the possible.  Because the promise of God when he calls us to the do the impossible if found in Mark 10:27 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
What is God calling you to do this morning.  Are you willing to respond by saying “Because you say so, I will obey”?

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