February 28, 2016     Luke 5:1 -11   Empty and Full 


    In this passage we see that Jesus is preaching and the crowds are pressing in on him.  He is preaching at the Sea of Galilee which is also known as the sea of Tiberias, Kinneret and Lake of Gennesaret.   That lake or sea is about 8 miles wide and 13 miles long.  It is generally wider than Lake Winnipesaukee about the same length.   Jesus drew crowds.  He had such a personality and healed and blessed people and they crowded around him and Jesus saw 2 boats and Jesus gets into one of the boats owned by Peter.  The boats were left on the shore while the fishermen were cleaning and dealing with the nets after fishing all night.  Jesus asked them to put the boat out on the water a little way from shore.  Jesus voice would carry well on the water to those on the shore. 

    Jesus has had some previous contact with Peter.  It was not by chance that Jesus was there and Peter was there.   We see in the previous chapter that Jesus had visited the home of Peter.  Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon.   Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her.   So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her.    She got up at once and began to wait on them.  Also in John 1 we read that the first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).    And he brought him to Jesus.    Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter). 

    We do not know what Peter knew about God until he met Jesus.  There seems to be some thought of the coming messiah with Peter.   But probably God for Peter was in the temple down the road or the synagogue.  God was way over there and Peter had his family and his job fishing and that took most of his time.  But now Peter is coming face to face with Jesus.  His life is about to change in a big way.  So Jesus is in the boat teaching and when Jesus finishes he tells Peter to put out into deep water and let down the nets and catch some fish.  Peter tells him we have worked hard all night and caught nothing.  You can work hard and yet not be full.  Do you count on work to fill your life? 

    Kevin Miller, wrote an article “Managing Chaos,” Christian Management Report (June 2006) and he said.  The average office gets 220 messages a day in emails, memos, phone calls, interruptions, and ads.   No wonder a survey of 1,313 managers on four continents found that “one-third of managers suffer from ill health as a direct consequence of stress associated with information overload. This figure increases to 43 percent among senior managers.  There is lots of work but an empty life.  Their life was full and yet it was empty.  I noticed where someone asked in the media do you think you could go a month without cell phones, computers and social media?  They ask could you live a month without them if you were given 100,000 dollars.  That would be difficult for some people. 

    I was thinking this past week about what fills our life.  What fills my life?  I am not saying all these things are bad but they can be bad.   Our attitude toward them may not be good.    Does plenty of money fill my life?   Does fame fill my life?   Ken Mansfield, the United States manager for Apple Records (the Beatles’ label), tells about his wonderful times with the Beatles before they broke up. Things went downhill after that until, in the mid-1980s, he hit bottom.   Through a woman with whom he fell in love, Mansfield found Jesus.   Before committing his life to Christ, he says Billboard Magazine was his Bible; record charts, his God; and prestigious positions, his purpose. “The Holy Grail was a Grammy, and the best table at the Brown Derby, was the Promised Land,” Mansfield says. 

   After his conversion, he realized how hollow the way of the Beatles had been compared to the way of Christ. “They [the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] are the authors of the map I needed for my journey,” he wrote. “I needed a chart, a journal with clear directions, a log to refer to — a guidebook wherein their commands could speak to my wandering spirit. I needed a book so powerful that its very words could burn a living message into the absolute heart of my heart. I needed the irrefutable, holy Word of God, the Father Almighty, and the Creator of the very seas I was lost upon!”  Ken Mansfield, the Beatles, the Bible, and Bodega Bay (Broadman & Holman, 2000)   

   At age twenty-eight Tom Brady has already won three Super Bowls and is ranked as one of the best quarterbacks ever. But it isn’t enough.   “Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me?” he asked in a 2005 interview. “I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey man, this is what is. I reached my goal, my dream, and my life.’ Me, I think, God, it’s got to be more than this.  I mean this isn’t, this can’t be, what it’s all cracked up to be.”   60 Minutes (November 6, 2005),   CBS News.com.  Tom had money, fame and fortune at the age of 28 but in his words it is not all that it is cracked up to be. 

     What fills your life?   Is it money?  Is it family?    Is it a plate of food?   Food is good and we need food to live but man shall not live by bread alone.  We should eat to live and live to eat.  If we live to eat that is not good.  Do I find life in friends?    Is my life found in social media?  Does social media fill my life?   Is it time off from work?  Is it God?   Is it worship and service to others?   For some of us it is a break from children so that something else can be focused on.   Paul said I have learned to be content with little or with much.  Jesus said my meat is to do the will of God.    Not everything on Jesus plate was glamorous.  Jesus had to deal with many people who opposed him and some of them were powerful.    What was Peter’s life?   Well it was making a living, paying the bills and putting food on the plate.   It was fishing and sometimes there were no fish.   It was not all easy.  Sometimes he went home without any income.   Some days he did not produce anything.  Life can be frustrating.  I suspect that Peter was successful.  He had a boat.  Peter had a business.  Not everybody had their own business in those days.  He had fishing nets.   He had other people who worked with and maybe for him. 

     Jesus tells Peter to push out into deeper water and let down your nets.   Now Peter is tired.  He has put in a full night of work and they had already been getting the nets ready for the next time fishing. Sometimes it can be challenging to be obedient to the Lord.   Sometimes we have other thoughts about what we want to do next.    Peter knew how and when to fish and was probably questioning Jesus at this point.  He may have thought you are a great preacher but you do not know fishing.  I have the corner on the market concerning the fish in this lake and on how to catch them.  He may have thought Jesus you are out of your element here.   It is not a good idea to let circumstances over ride what God is telling us.   Peter would learn that over and over again.  Lord I will never deny you.  Peter before the roster crows you will deny me 3 times.   But Peter said at your word I will let down the nets.  Lord I will obey your word.  That is when things happen.  That is when the blessing of God comes.  That is when good things can happen in your life.   Sometimes the results are eternal.  We may always see the results of that but in this case the results were quite dramatic. 

    That is where life is at.   It is when we hear the voice of the Lord in the midst of all of our business.  In the middle of my busy life I hear the voice of my beloved savior and Jesus tells me what to do.  What God tells me may seem strange to me but God ways are higher than my ways.  God knows the path.   Putting down the nets again probably seemed pretty strange to Peter.   I am blessed when Jesus breaks into my life and speaks to me.   Peter ha da face to face encounter with Jesus.   I remember a friend of mine in San Diego John Hillis and he lost everything and God spoke to him and told him to seek Christian fellowship and that turned his life around.  That was his path out the hole he was in.  That is the path for a lot of people. 

   What happens when you obey God’s voice?    You could have a great story to tell your friends and children.  Talk about fish stories.   They caught some fish.    It was not based on the fishermen’s ability.  It was not based on the fishermen’s knowledge but it happened because of Jesus ability.   Jesus can always do more than we can.  It would be cool to go fishing with Jesus.   I bet the disciples never forgot that catch.   Has Jesus ever helped you to do something that you could not do and it was amazing in your eyes?   Great things are not always done by huge human effort.  The true work of God is done when we obey him.   The nets begin to break and they called for the other boat and they had so many fish that both boats begin to sink.  This experience spoke deep into their life.   I have just heard about smaller boats going after these several hundred pound tuna and some of those boats are just not big enough. 

   Peter’s response here is interesting.  Go away from me for I am a sinful man.    That is really an interesting comment.  Go away from me Lord because I am a sinful man.  It is really humbling to see your sinfulness and I think it is good to see that.  It is not all about me.  I need to get over myself.  I need to learn to laugh at myself.  I am not always right.  I do not always have all of the answers.    I think God can use people that learn that.  God certainly took this old fisherman and changed him.  Jesus tells Peter do not be afraid I will make you fishers of men.  God cares about the lost.   God sent his son to die so we could be saved.  God still calls people today to minister and to serve.  God calls people to put aside our comfort so that we can help someone else.   God still calls people today to teach and to preach his word.  God calls us from our comfort zone.  God calls us into deeper things.  Because God cares about people God may allow your road to be difficult at times.   God will push, test, speak, make us uncomfortable etc, etc, etc, to get us to the point where he can use us.  God calls people to himself and to service.  They get the boats to shore and leave everything to follow Jesus. 

    There comes a time to leave it all behind and pick up our cross and carry it.  We need to take time to listen and spend time with Jesus.   One person said every day that I say I am too busy to pray, I seem to have no time, accomplish little, and feel frazzled and enslaved by time.    Every day that I say I’m too busy not to pray, every time I offer some time-loaves and life-fishes to Christ, he miraculously multiplies them and I share his conquest of time.  I have found that to be true.  The more time I spend with Him the better my day.  Sometimes when I hit it hard in the morning trying to get things done and I look back at the end of the day and wonder what was done.  Our lives are fuller and better as we walk in his presence and we walk in obedience.  Peter’s nets were full of fish when he obeyed Jesus. 

    A car is made to run on petrol [gas], and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on himself. He himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.  — C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (Macmillan, 1952).  Our lives are empty without Jesus.  We need to hear his voice and then obey.