HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
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 the 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. Luke 5:4-6
Christ Singles Out an Individual’s Disappointment
It was not easy for Jesus Christ to be alone, men were so eager and so curious about Him. Not only did they crowd around Him in the villages, where at any moment there might be a work of healing, but they also watched Him as He stole away into retirement, among the hills, or by the seashore. Our lesson opens, then, with Jesus at the seaside, and there, as in Capernaum, there is a great crowd around Him, eager to listen to the Word of God. Then Jesus steps into one of the fishing boats and preaches there–note the many and strange pulpits in which Christ preached. And when the sermon was over, and Jesus was doubtless weary–what did He do? Did He ask for a drink of water? He immediately turned to Peter in whose boat he was and said to him, “Launch out into the deep.” He had seen the disappointed look on Peter’s face. He had detected that the night’s fishing was a failure. All the excitement of the thronging crowd, and all the effort of telling them God’s news had not made Him careless of one man’s disappointment. So may we learn to trust Christ’s individual care, though we are only atoms in a countless multitude. Then follows the miracle, and the call to discipleship, and so this brief but exquisite lesson closes.
It Was in Deep Waters that the Draught Was Got
Now, note that it was in deep waters that the draught was got. The first word of Jesus was, “Launch out into the deep.” if the nets were to be filled with fish that morning, the first requirement was to leave the shallows. Now, every miracle is but an acted parable; there are meanings in it that all life may interpret, and to us today, no less than to Simon Peter, Jesus is saying, “Launch out into the deep.” We must come right out for God if we are ever to enjoy Him. We must unfasten the cable that binds us to the shore. When we launch out into the deeps of trust, we find how mysteriously the nets are filling. For the harvest of life’s sea is joy and peace, and growing insight, and increasing love, and these are beyond the reach of every fisherman, save of him who dares to launch into the deep. Then, too, as experience increases, we learn the meaning of the expression “deep waters.” We learn that sorrow and care, and suffering and loss are the deep waters of the human heart. And when we find what a harvest these may bring, and how men may be blessed and purified and made unworldly by them, we understand the need of the deep waters, if the nets are ever to be filled.
God’s Gifts May Cause Some Disorder at the First
Note again that God’s gifts may cause some disorder at the first. When Peter at Christ’s command let down the net, it enclosed a great multitude of fishes. We may be sure that the net was a good one if it was Peter’s making, yet for all its goodness it began to break. Now nets are very precious to a fisherman; the loss of them is sometimes irreparable. So in a moment, we see Peter and Andrew beckoning to their neighbour’s boat, and like the man of Macedonia, crying, “Come over and help us.” They came at once, and both of the boats were filled and filled so full that they began to sink. And the point I wish you to note is that the first results of the kindness of the Savior were–breaking nets and sinking ships! You see, then, that when Jesus enters life as He entered Andrew’s and Simon’s boat that morning, it is always possible that at the first there may be some distress and confusion and disorder. We find abundant records of it in the early Church, and every minister has seen it in his converts. Let no one is distressed, then, if Christ steps on board, it is not all joy and singing from the start. All that will come, in the good time of God, for the promise is there shall be no more sea. Meantime, just because Christ is good, and charges the empty night into such morning of fulness, the nets (that are so precious to us) may seem on the point of breaking, and the waves come lapping to the gunwale of the ship.
The Nearness of Jesus Shows Us Our Unworthiness
Once more, it is the nearness of Jesus that shows us our unworthiness. One day, when Jesus was across the lake in Gadar, the Gadarenes came to Him with a strange petition: they came and begged Him to depart out of their coasts. Jesus had cured the Gadarene demoniac; He had interfered with the local trade of swine-keeping, and so incensed were the people at this interference, and so dead were they to the glory of their Visitor, that they begged Him to depart, and He departed. How different is the cry of Peter here, “Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man.” It was not because he was dead in trespasses and sins, it was because he was awakened to his own unworthiness, that Peter was overpowered by the Lord’s presence. And so, while Jesus departed from the Gadarenes, the next word that He spoke to Peter was “Fear not” (Luke 5:10). Sometimes, when we gather a bunch of flowers, they seem to us very sweet and beautiful; and so they may be, for they are God’s creatures, and He has made everything beautiful in its time. But if we take a pure white rose and set it in the midst of them, it is strange how garish and coarse some of the others appear. They are God’s creatures, but they seem less worthy now, in the near presence of that pure and perfect whiteness. Just so when Jesus Christ is far away, we may be very well contented with ourselves. But when He enters our boat, and shows us His love and power, like Peter we too would say–“I am a sinful man.”
They Followed Christ When Things Were Brightest with Them
Then, lastly, these men followed Christ when things were brightest with them. They had never had such fishing in their lives. It was not in the weary morning after a useless night that they forsook all and followed Jesus. It was when they were the envy of the neighbourhood for the huge haul of fish they had got. Will the children act as Simon and Andrew acted? Will they follow Jesus when life is at its brightest? It is better to come late than not at all. It is better to come in old age than to die Christless. But it is best to come when all the nets are full when life is golden, and the heart is young; best, and not only best but surest, for “they that seek Me early, shall find Me.”