HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
AT THY WORD LORD!
Of all the mighty works of God, the greatest must be how he changes ordinary men of flesh and blood into extraordinary men of God. The Master-disciple relationship between Jesus Christ and Simon Peter exemplifies the wonderful transformation that takes place when the Lord comes into our life.
The Lord entered Peter’s life when he set foot on his fishing boat and asked him for space to teach the Word of God to the people. What happened to Peter is what happens to anyone else who makes space for Christ and his word. There isn’t enough space to contain the blessing that follows!
Let us read from the Book of St.Luke’s Gospel chapter 5:4-7:
Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.
5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless, at thy word, I will let down the net.
6 And when they had this done they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.
7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship that they should come and help them. And they came and filled both the ships so that they began to sink.
This must have been an immense catch for their net to break and for both ships to be sinking under the weight of the fish. And to think that all this was the outcome of a hesitant Peter who, deciding to play along with the Lord’s instruction, cast the net. He didn’t have any idea what he was getting into by acting according to that simple instruction. No wonder he was in a state of shock when he realized what awesome power Christ’s words carried. Ecclesiastes 8:4 states “Where a word of a king is there is power.”
Peter was standing in the presence of the King of kings and this exposed his sinfulness so much that: Luke 5:8, 10:
… he fell down at Jesus’ knees saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man O Lord. For he was astonished and all they that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:
10 And Jesus said unto Simon Fear not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they brought their ships to the land they forsook all and followed him.
It is interesting to see that the Lord Jesus visits Peter (and the rest of us) not when we can boast great achievement but when we are at our wit’s end having nothing to show for all our hard work. This invariably is the first lesson the Lord teaches his every disciple: “For without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5b) or “when you fail, I prevail.”
How amazing was Peter’s response! Confronted with his own wretchedness, he initially constrained the Lord to depart from him. Yet, a short while later, he forsook everything in pursuit of the noblest calling of all. Becoming a fisher of men loomed exceedingly larger in his mind than any of his former occupations or goals. He instantly dropped the worldly (his nets) in favour of the heavenly (God’s nets)! Likewise, all of us who come into contact with the Lord is made to realize his greatness and our helplessness. The question is: Will we remain miserable or surrender to him and allow him to transform us into fishers of men?
Peter made his choice and the transformation that ensued was no less than miraculous. Peter is the definition of a passionate follower of the lord, one who despite obvious weakness went on to become a great fisher of men. In the Gospels we see him constantly following Jesus, hanging on every word, gazing at every miracle and pressing on for deeper understanding with probing questions. He is an intriguing mixture of human frailty and a heart ablaze for God. Good, raw material in the Potter’s expert hands.
Of the many accounts that relate to him, the instance when Peter walked on the sea paints a clear picture of his character. Encouraged by the Master we see him boldly walking on the sea to meet him, only to begin sinking at the sight of boisterous wind, crying, “Lord save me!” (Matthew 14:28-31). Surely we can all identify with Peter’s frailty and fear. However, not many of us have walked out on the choppy sea as he did. He was as humanly bold and devout as can be. He had left all and followed Christ.
It was Peter who, when many of Christ’s disciples abandoned him, answered his question of “Will you also go away?” with these remarkable words: “Lord to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art the Christ the Son of the living God” (John 6:67-69). Peter had passed many tests of good discipleship during his training. He was blessed to have his eyes opened to the reality that Jesus was the true Messiah!
However, there was one last precious lesson which he had not yet mastered: the lesson of self-denial. When Jesus started showing his disciples that he had to suffer death “Peter began to rebuke Him saying, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee” (Matthew 16:22). He shuddered at the thought of crucifixion! He could not accept that love would reach such depths as to require total sacrifice. The Lord turned and said to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest, not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16:23). Here Jesus saw that there was another force attempting to seduce Peter. The Lord addressed that force right up front. He was not speaking to Peter but to that spirit of obstruction who had no good intention.
When Peter followed Christ, he had left everything behind except for one thing! SELF. He had left parents, wife, children and siblings but was still clinging on to dear life. However, Christ said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate (love far less) his father, and mother … and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Peter was still trapped in a worldly mentality, still savouring the things of men, still holding on to his life. Like many today still holding on to the pleasures of the world, the things that entice and draws us further from the truth. Christ, on the other hand, had come to teach not only with His life but primarily with His death that you save your life by losing it (denying it) and not by saving it (clinging to it). He gave his life on the cross to save us. In so doing, He saved our life as well as his. As he himself said, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again” (John 10:17).
Likewise, we ought not to count our life dearer to us than Christ. The lesson of self-denial in favour of Christ is imperative if we are to become his true disciples. By so doing we do not lose our lives but we save them.
Matthew 16:24-25: Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall save it.
Are you willing to take that leap of faith and lay down all for Jesus? Why not give it a try this morning and allow the Lord to be your constant guide. Surrender to His will and calling.
TO BE CONTINUED ……….