Launch Out Into the Deep!
Joke: A forest ranger was sure that LeRoy was not fishing according to the rules and regulations of the state of Texas and he decided to try and find out. Yet no matter how much he spied and pried he could never figure out what ol’ LeRoy was doing. He would just see him at the end of the day with a boatload of the biggest fish in the lake and couldn’t say nothing.
Finally he just decide to ask LeRoy how he was catching all those fish when no one else was. LeRoy said, “Well if ya wants I can just shows ya hows I do it.”
The ranger agreed, and LeRoy and the ranger went fishing. They took out Leroy’s tiny little John boat. The ranger said, “LeRoy you can’t catch any fish in that little boat.” LeRoy didn’t say anything. They trolled out to the middle of the lake in the heat of the day. The ranger said, “LeRoy you can’t be catchin no fish here, in this boat at this time of day.” LeRoy didn’t say nothing. LeRoy then reached into his tackle box pulled out a stick of dynamite and lit it. The ranger shouted. “LeRoy, it is illegal to fish with dynamite and if you throw that stick into this lake I’m going to arrest you.” LeRoy smiled handed the lit stick of dynamite to the ranger and said, “You gonna keep talkin or ya gonna start fishin?”
Today's sermon also concerns fishing but in a completely differnt light and with a very imporant message for anyone who is seeking for following Christ.
Such is the passage we will be looking at today and for the next few months. Luke 5:1-11 is our theme text for our Fall and Spring Campaign. “Launch Out Into the Deep!” Christ told his disciples and I believe, truly believe he is telling us the same thing today. What will your answer be to the command of Christ?
This was not the disciple’s first call, that is recorded in John 1:35-42; nor is it even their second, what was in Matt 4:18-22; but this call is their third and it is after this call that they forsake all and follow Him. You have to wonder what made this call different. What made this call the final one. I believe it was the command of Christ to launch out into the deep. I believe it was a test of faith and a show of power by Jesus Christ that took these believers and made them into disciples and apostles. This event started them on the process of truly being “sent ones” with the gospel of Christ as their message and the hope of eternity as their burden.
Guidance and Gift Luke5. 1-4
And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.
Jesus told Peter, “Launch Out Into the Deep and Let Down Your Nets for a Draught.”
Jesus came to the Lake of Gennesart, also called the sea of Galilee. He was already well known for people were pressing upon him. The word means to put pressure on like a stone on a tomb. The crowd literally was crowding Jesus so that he could not do anything for the press.
I believe he came looking for the fishermen partners this day. This was team of fishermen that he would turn into a team of apostles.
He finds them cleaning their nets and asks Peter who is the leader of this enterprise, to let Him use his boat for a pulpit. So they put out a little way from the shore and Jesus sits down and speaks with the people. This was the way they heard the Gospel, no shouting, no theatrics, but teaching and quite learning.
When he finishes, Jesus tells Peter to Launch Out into the deep water and drop your nets for a catch of fish.
Jesus is doing three things by telling this to Peter.
First he is testing his obedience
Second he is offering him a reward for the use of his time and ship to let him preach.
Third he is going to teach a lesson that can’t be taught in words alone. It is a lesson of faith in action, a lesson of promise with risk, a lesson of a gift under the guidance of God.
Jesus is still telling us to Launch out Into the Deep and Let down your nets.
Do you believe that Jesus is still in the business of turning normal Christians into disciples and then from disciples into apostles? Do you believe he wants to change us from those who just believe, to those who are committed to him and finally to those who are truly and personally commissioned to do the work of carrying the Gospel of Christ?
I don’t think Jesus’ plan for reaching the world has changed at all, he is still using the same method of making believers into disciples, into apostles and into fishers of men.
The only question we have today is, is he doing this to me? Is he doing this in my church? Am I listening as Jesus says to me and to us as a church, “Launch Out Into the deep and let down your nets for a draught.”
Jesus also still trying to do the same three things in us that he did to Peter.
First, he is testing our obedience.
Second, he is offering us a reward and blessing for obey and serving Him.
Jeremiah 7:23 Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.
Third he is trying to teach us a lesson that can’t be learned by words alone.
Psalms 119:71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
Illustration: Personal example
I am absolutely sure that Jesus still tells us, Launch out into the deep.
I heard him first as a 14-year-old boy walking the aisle with tear in my eyes and a calling in my heart to tell people about the love of God.
I heard it again when I was 21, after years of running from that call I heard as a teenager. Now I had a wife and a newborn baby boy and my own little business. But this time I answered, “Yes, Lord. I will launch out into the deep.”
I’ve heard Jesus after each heartbreak, after each defeat, after each desertion or betrayal still saying, “Launch out into the deep.” He has sent me to places where I felt afraid and felt a failure but still when I feel its time to pull up the nets and go home for good, he points away off across the sea of doubt and uncertainty and says, “Launch Out, there is still work to be done over there in the deep.”
His voice has always been strong, and His assurance unmistakable. I want to see God’s hand at work in my life and in my church in ways that leave no doubt that he is telling us, “Launch out into the deep. You are not through doing what I sent you to do.” And we are willing to go.
Transition: Notice the response of Peter to the Lord’s command of launch out in vs. 5
Cynicism and Compliance Luke 5:5
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.
Peter’s response, “We have toiled all night and taken nothing nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.”
This is one of the reasons why the Lord chose Peter to be an Apostle. He is so much more like you and I than Paul or even John. Peter more than any other New Testament Bible character speaks like you and I.
Peter is blunt but truthful. “Lord, we fished all night.”
For real fishermen, men who made their living catching and selling fish, nighttime was the best time to work. The fishermen would take torches and hold them close to the surface of the water where the fish would have risen after staying in the depths of the water during the heat of the day.
The fish would by attracted to the light would swim near the boat and the men would cast a net and catch their fish.
Peter knew this, he was a lifetime fisherman. He was the expert, Jesus was a just carpenter and now a Rabbi or teacher. Neither qualified him to tell Peter how to fish.
Peter was also tired when he says we have fished all night he was being truthful. They had started at sunset and fished until sunup.
Finally, it wasn’t a good day for fishing. They hadn’t caught a thing. There just weren’t any fish in that lake. (I experience this enough in my own feeble attempts at fishing to know its true. Somedays you can’t catch a fish with a stick of dynamite. Which of course Peter didn’t have back then.)
But Peter didn’t stop with “We’ve toiled all night and taken nothing. No, he went on and said, “Nevertheless at thy word I will let down my net.”
It didn’t make sense. It was contrary to experience. It was unfair to ask of men who were at the end of the strength but because Jesus said it, Peter responded, I’m going to do it anyway.
Do you see why Peter was the leader of this group both as fishers of fish and later as fishers of mem? He saw the world of reality and doubt, even expressed those doubts but he still believed in Jesus.
If Jesus said, it then even if he didn’t believe it would work or understand it it he was going to try and do it.
What is our response to the command of Christ to Launch out and Let Down our nets?
You know what the difference between us and Peter is? We have the same doubts about what God is telling us to do but instead of saying it and then doing it anyway, we don’t say anything and then we don’t do anything.
God’s word says, “Launch out into the deep with your finances.” “Launch out into the deep with your family.” “Launch out into the deep with your life.” Most challenging of all God says, “Launch out into the deep with your soul.”
Too often we know what God is telling us to do but we say nothing and then we do nothing. It would be better if we stood up in the middle of Church shouted that God doesn’t make any sense, this can’t possibly work and then said, “To prove it I’m going to try it anyway just to show you.”
But instead we sit there in our cocoons of silence and our coffins of inactivity and refuse to do anything at all. Refuse to even try or to test God and His promises.
You know what God, himself says about testing him? He says, I am bigger than your doubts and bigger than your tests, “Try me!”
Scripture: Malachi 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Examples: God is greater than your tests.
Gideon tested God. Zechariah the father of John the Baptist tested God. Hannah the mother of Samuel tested God. They and many, many others stepped out in spite of their doubts, in spite of their fears and said, “Lord I can’t see how this is going to work but I’m going to do it anyway.”
Do you have even enough faith to own up to your doubts and then because God said it, do it anyway?
Illustration: Send the Communion Set we will surely need it.
An incident from the lives of Robert and Mary Moffat underscores this truth in an interesting way. For 10 years these two missionaries faithfully pursued their endeavors in Bechuanaland without one ray of encouragement brightening their way. Not a single person was converted to Christ. Finally, the directors of their mission board began to question the wisdom of continuing the work. The very thought of leaving their post, however, brought grief to the devoted couple who felt sure that eventually they would see the fruits of their labors. They stayed on, and for two more years the forces of darkness reigned. Then a friend in England wrote to Mrs. Moffat that she wanted to send her a gift, and asked for a suggestion. In her reply she requested nothing for herself, although she could have used many things. Rather she pleaded, "Send us a communion set; I'm sure we will need one soon." God honored her faith, for the Holy Spirit began to work in hearts, and a short time later six people accepted the Savior. Soon a small group had united to form a church for fellowship and to study the Bible. The communion set from England was delayed en route; but on the very day before the Lord's Supper was to be observed, the gift arrived.
Reward and Repentance Luke 5:6-9
And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 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. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:
Peter’s obedience in spite of his doubts is rewarded and he repents of his lack of faith.
Peter does what the Lord says. He had Jesus with him in the boat, probably to show him this wasn’t go to work, Peter then launches out into the deep and lets down his net.
I believe that no sooner than the net had submerged that it must have felt like the boat had dropped anchor. Peter begins to try and draw the net in and so great is the catch that the net begins to break.
The Bible says he beckoned to his partners on the shore. He is so far out in the deep that they can’t hear him calling to them. So, he is trying to hold the net with one hand and waving with the other hand trying to get someone to launch out into the deep with him and help him draw in these fish.
John and James arrive and the probably put another net under Peter’s net and then they all lift the net and the catch was so great that both boats begin to sink.
Don’t you imagine that the Lord was sitting there this whole time smiling, maybe He was even laughing to himself at what was happening? What He knew was going to happen all along.
When Peter sees the catch, when he realizes that his boat is so heavy it is in danger of sinking, he falls down at the feet of Jesus and repents of his doubts, his fear and his pride. “Depart from me for I am a sinful man, Oh Lord.” Oh what a confession.
In a way that he had never seen Jesus before, he sees him now as Lord and in comparison Peter can only see himself as a sinner, unworthy to be in the same place as Jesus the Christ, God the son, creator, ruler and sustainer of all.
The Bible says, “For he was amazed.” Literally that means, For a wonder held him round. The wonder of what they had seen surrounded and held Peter fast with all the others.
Isn’t it amazing, Peter had cast a net that caught fish, but Jesus had cast a miracle that caught Peter.
Where is our obedience? Where is our risk? Where is our repentance?
Peter would never have come to this place, never come to the feet of Jesus, never seen Jesus as much more than just a Rabbi had he not obeyed the Lord and launched out into the deep.
He risked much in doing so.
He risked embarrassment from all those people and other fishermen on shore. “Look at Peter he’s going back out to fish at the wrong time and in the wrong place. What a fool!”
He risked all that he owned. His nets began to break and his ship begins to sink. If he lost these things he would lose everything he had in this world.
He even risked his life. We know from the story of Peter walking on the water that he probably can’t swim. If the boat goes down Peter dies.
Yet because he risked it all in obedience to Christ that he was able to see Christ as much more than he had ever seen before.
Let me simply ask you today, where is your obedience? Where is your risk, where is your repentance?
When have you obeyed the Lord in spite of you doubts and fears? When have you risked everything you have and everything you are are in obedience to him? When was the last time you fell at the feet of Jesus and realized, “I shouldn’t be loved my Him? I shouldn’t have been forgiven by Him. I shouldn’t be going to spend eternity with this one who is the Creator, Ruler and Sustain of All. I shouldn’t be here, but I am and all I can do is fall at your feet. My Lord, My God, My Jesus.
Have you heard Jesus invitation to trust Him, are you willing to risk it, willing to test Him and see of this salvation thing is real? Oh you’ll never know the amazement, the wonder holding you round about, until you launch out in the deep of your doubts and fears and trust Jesus.
Eight times in the NT Jesus says, “Come unto Me.” The most memorable invitation is in Mathew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Transition: The story doesn’t end here in fact this is the only the end of the beginning of the story for Peter and the apostles. But don’t worry it is the end of my sermon.
Conclusion; Forsaking and Following Luke 5:10-11
And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.
Peter, Andrew, James and John forsake all and follow Christ.
After this the third time Jesus has called his disciples, the Bible says, “They forsook all and followed Him.”
Why this time? I believe it was because they saw Him as they had never seen him before. Because they had obeyed Him as they had never obeyed him before. Because the risked everything as they had never risked before. Now they were ready to be Apostles, sent ones, ready to take the Gospel of Christ to the ends of the earth and ready to carry the burden of eternity on their shoulders.
Are you ready this morning? I can’t think of anything worse than one day looking back to a time and a place where I could have made a choice to obey God, to trust Jesus, who died for me, but instead said nothing and did nothing. I can’t imagine realizing that because of my refusal to obey, I missed seeing Jesus Christ as I had never seen him before. I missed the opportunity of serving him. Or worst of all I missed the hope of eternity because I did nothing.