A Day at the Beach, Because you Say So

January 19, 2014

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”?