More Than More - Remember When
October 6, 2019
water cooler conversation:
This week, a reptile breeder in California had a duffle bag with three pythons and a lizard stolen from a parking garage. Two of the snakes were later found in a dumpster, but one python and the lizard are still missing. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever found? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever lost?
Guinea pig ice cream is trending as the cool - pun intended - new treat in Ecuador. Would you eat it?
did you know…
In 1986, when the water of the Sea of Galilee receded in a drought, an ancient fishing boat dated from the time of Jesus was found (image 10) on the north-west shore by two local fishermen, Moshe and Yuval Lufan.
Primarily made of cedar and oak, it measured 26.5 feet long, 7.5 feet wide, and 4.5 feet deep. It could hold approximately one ton - either five crew members and the catch or ten passengers.
The fishing method in Luke 5 and John 21 uses a bell-shaped casting net approximately six to nine yards in diameter with lead weights around the edges. The net would be thrown flat onto the water, and the lead weights would pull it to the bottom. The fishermen would then pull a cord, drawing the net closed, trapping fish inside. It was exhausting work that required tremendous physical strength and endurance.
Galilean fishermen were most often employees or partners in small family-run businesses. Boats were crewed by five men.
Fishermen like James and John - known as the Sons of Thunder before coming to Jesus - were strong physically and mentally. They knew the meaning of hard work and courage as violent storms could develop quickly on the Sea of Galilee. They were brave, resilient, persistent, characteristics that served them well when Jesus made them “fishers of men.”
unpack the message:
Jesus performs the same miracle twice - the miraculous catch of fish. The account in Luke is from early in Jesus’ earthly ministry; the account in John is from near the end.
Jesus has been teaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Because the crowd keeps growing, Jesus is inadvertently pushed back closer to the water. Local fishermen have come in from fishing all night, and their boats are docked at the shore. Jesus asks Simon Peter to launch his boat back into the water, thus providing a platform for Him to preach.
These fishermen are exhausted, dirty, and frustrated. After a night of fishing (see point 2 under “Did You Know”), these men would have brought their nets ashore to wash and mend them. They’d remove any seaweed or other debris clinging to the net, repair any tears, and replace and missing weights.
Jesus sits down in the boat as was the custom of rabbis and teachers in His day, and begins to teach. When He finishes, He tells Simon Peter to row out to deeper water and lower his nets. Remember, this is the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Jesus was a carpenter by trade, not a fisherman, while Peter has been a fisherman his whole life - he’s an expert. So when Jesus tells him to get back out there, he’s naturally reluctant and responds as many of us would - “We’ve been up all night, caught nothing, but fine, if you say so Jesus, I’ll lower my net.”
When in your life has God called you to act even though you felt you had nothing left to give? How did you respond?
Peter and his crew drop their nets in deeper water, and when they pull the net in, it’s so full it begins to tear. Their cries for help draw other fishermen and their boats, and as they load their ships, the catch is so great that it threatens to sink them. Remember, these boats could carry up to one ton of weight. (See point one in Did You Know?).
Peter is overwhelmed by what he has seen and is recognizes that he has just witnessed a miracle. He falls to his knees before Jesus and cries out, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”
Jesus responds saying, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” The Greek word for “catching” used here (zogron) is rare in the New Testament, but means “to catch alive.” Naturally, Peter was accustomed to catching fish alive in his nets, but those live fish would soon be dead. Jesus is calling Peter and the other disciples to “catch people” so that they might live, becoming literal “fishers of men.”
Think back to a time in your life when you were overwhelmed by the distance between God’s holiness and our sinfulness, or between His power and our weakness. How does that make you feel? Unworthy? Frightened? Humbled?
Jesus used an everyday situation to make followers out of fishermen. He relates to them on their level. These are not educated men. Jesus doesn’t dive into Old Testament prophecy or engage in a theological debate - He meets these men where they are and demonstrates His power in a way that they could understand. As a result, their lives are immediately changed.
God will not always call us when it is convenient or comfortable. He calls these fishermen when they are physically and mentally drained. How can we prevent our circumstances from keeping us from answering God’s call on our life?
Such a practical yet profound demonstration also sets the stage for the disciples to understand the Great Commission when they would be sent out to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18–20).
Think back to your own salvation experience. Whom did God use to reach you? Were they that different from you? Did they present profound theological truth, or did they share the gospel in a way that resonated with you? How did they do that?
Notice that Jesus isn’t choosing the religious leaders of the day to join Him in His mission. Sometimes we think only pastors or church leaders can reach the lost, but that’s not true. We are all called to fulfill the Great Commission. What unique skills and interests do you have that would help you relate to those around you who need salvation?
Can you remember a time when you were personally affected by seeing a friend, family member, or even a perfect stranger come to faith in Christ?
It’s important to note that even after this massive catch - possibly the largest they’d ever seen and one that undoubtedly would have represented a substantial payday - they leave it all behind to follow Jesus.
What in your life have you walked away from to follow Jesus? Friendships? Job or financial opportunities? Hobbies? Does following Jesus always mean sacrifice?
This is the beginning of Peter’s call into ministry. If for a moment, we fast forward through the story of Jesus’ earthly ministry, we come to Passion Week. Jesus’ teaching has angered religious leaders, and they are determined to get rid of Him. While Jesus is being questioned in the house of the High Priest, Peter is in the courtyard, having followed Him there. But when people begin to ask Peter about his connection to Jesus. Three times Peter denies knowing Jesus, and immediately after the third denial, a rooster crows, in fulfillment of Jesus’ statement, “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” Peter is devastated.
Soon after, Jesus is crucified, taking the punishment for all our sins. But His story doesn’t end there. Three days later He rises from the dead.
Imagine for a moment how Peter felt hearing Jesus had returned. On the one hand, he must have been thrilled to know to the Savior had returned proving once and for all Jesus truly is God. On the other hand, Peter had denied Him three times just before He went to the cross.
Fast forward once again to the events in John 21. Peter has continued to follow Jesus’ teachings, but he’s in an awkward, conflicted emotional place, and he once again does what many of us would do - he goes back to his comfort zone. For Peter, it’s fishing.
There’s no indication in Scripture that Peter has walked away from the Lord, yet he’s clearly distracted and conflicted. How do we stay faithful to the work to which we’ve been called?
Remember, these boats require a five-person crew, so four other disciples agree to join Peter out on the water - Thomas, Nathanael, James, and John. Once again, they fish all night and catch nothing. In the morning, as they’re returning to port, they see a figure on the shore. Initially, they’re unable to distinguish who it is. Scripture doesn’t tell us whether it’s because of early morning mist on the water, distance, or simply because Jesus is the last person they expect to see.
As they approach, the figure on the beach calls out, “‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’
‘No,’ they answered. He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.”
This is just like the events of Luke 5 when Jesus first called these disciples. Now, the resurrected Jesus is standing before them. When John turns to Peter and says, “It is the Lord!” Peter is once again overwhelmed, jumps overboard, and swims for shore, leaving the others to haul in the fish.
Once again, the net is full to the point of nearly bursting. John tells us there were 153 large fish, demonstrating that this is an eye witness account.
There are four essential concepts to draw from these events.
Even when ________ follow Jesus.
Even when you’re tired, frustrated, miserable, and burned out, follow Jesus.
In the account of both these miracles, then men have been up all night, doing hard, physical labor, and have nothing to show for their efforts. They’re wet, exhausted, and frustrated, yet when Jesus tells them to cast their nets, they obey. Even though it made no sense, they did it anyway.
How often do we resist Jesus’ call on our lives because what He is calling us to do seems too crazy, too impractical? In what areas is He challenging you to step out in faith?
If you don’t feel challenged or don’t feel God giving you direction, what do you think that means? Is God finished with you? Why would He be silent?
Jesus has not changed.
Here’s the truth of these stories - Jesus has not changed. It’s the same miracle in both Luke when Jesus calls these disciples and again in John when He is reinstating their call. This Jesus that had the power to perform these miracles, is the same Jesus who went to the cross, taking the punishment for our sins. He has not changed - He came for sinners past, present, and future.
Miracles lead to Mission.
Jesus has a purpose for you just as He had for the disciples. In Luke 5, Jesus performs a miracle then calls the disciples. In John 21, he performs a miracle and says, “Peter, do you love me?” Three times He asks, and three times Peter says, “Yes, I love you.” Then Jesus replies, “Go feed my sheep.” He commissions Peter. The miracle was the point - it was merely a marker pointing to something higher - God’s purpose for the believer.
Jesus’ word to Peter is also a word to us: “Do not be afraid.”
Jesus’ mission for us as believers is to be fishers of men, “catching” others as He caught us in a deep, wide net of His mercy, grace, and love.
God’s call for us is the same as it was for His original disciples - preach the gospel and feed His sheep. How are you living out the Great Commission? Name someone in your life you are intentionally witnessing to and trying to lead to faith in Christ. Name someone you are discipling.
Jesus is more than His miracles.
Peter, a man who saw the miracles of Jesus first-hand and had close fellowship with him for years, was still impulsive and immature at times. Over and over again, he misses the point.
Peter sees beyond the miracle to embrace the calling of the One who performed it.
As a result, God transforms him, and he becomes a great leader in the early church. The same Holy Spirit that changed Peter’s life is actively at work, transforming those of us who have placed our faith in Christ.
We should be calling out to Jesus for a miracle - He can do miraculous things in your life, and He wants to. But He is so much more than a miracle maker - He is the living embodiment of the fruit of the spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
He is beyond everything you need and beyond everything you could ask or imagine.
What miracle do you need from God? Are your prayers full of faith and expectation that God can deliver?
make a move:
Choose an action step based on what you’ve learned this week.
What are you doing to reach the lost in your community? As this message has shown us, if you are not reaching your neighbors, you are missing out on the life-change God wants us all to experience. Identify someone you know who needs to come to faith in Christ. Be intentional about cultivating a relationship with them and invite them to church.
God has a call and a purpose for your life. If that seems vague or unclear, contact one of our pastors to talk about what that means and how you can pursue your calling.
October is Pastor Appreciation Month. If one of the pastors at Expectation has impacted your life, take the time to tell them. Send a card, a text, or email them at: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com
Talk to Pastor Lucas about the new season of growth groups and the exciting changes we’ve made to our format.
Get involved with the Operation Christmas Child initiative. A simple gift of $20 provides a child with a shoebox filled with hope and happiness, and most importantly, the opportunity to hear the gospel.
Commit to daily prayer and Bible study so you can grow your faith and tap into the supernatural power of God. Ask one of the pastors or eGroup leaders for recommendations or use an app like YouVersion, Life.Church, or Bible.is.
Where do you need a miracle? Finances? Start tithing. Your schedule? Start serving on Sundays. Relationships? Hand them over to God. The only way to see that supernatural power is to stop trying to manage it all on your own. Put Him first, then stand back and watch Him do miracle after miracle in your life.
Pray daily for the faith to believe God can do the impossible.
Ask God to show you someone in your life that needs to hear the life-changing Good News of the gospel. Ask God to fill you with His supernatural power so you have the boldness to share with that individual.
Ask God to connect you with people different from you to whom you can minister, those on the edges of society, or even our congregation. Ask for the courage to reach out to someone hurting, lost, and lonely, and the humility to do so without needing any credit for having done so.
Pray for the Operation Christmas Child initiative. Pray for the children and their families who receive these gifts to be saved through this program.
If you haven’t decided to follow Christ, what’s holding you back? Salvation is as simple as acknowledging that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. Right now, you can pray this simple prayer, believing the words not only in your mind but in your heart and be saved. “Dear God, I know that I am a sinner, and there is nothing that I can do to save myself. I recognize that I can never be good enough to work my way into heaven on my own. I believe that there’s only one way to heaven, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ, who died to save me from my sins and give me a home in heaven with Him. Right now, at this moment, I repent of my sins and ask you to forgive me. My faith now is small, but I ask You to help it grow. Thank you that your promises are true, and especially for the assurance that I am now your child. I thank you that no matter what lies ahead, you will walk with me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you prayed that prayer, share your decision with one of the pastors or staff who can help you with resources, and encourage your newfound faith.
Pray for your pastors by name: Christian Gaffney, Roy Dowdy, Lucas Johnson, Mike Zizolfo, and Austin Parkhurst.
Ask God to show you where you can serve, what eGroup you should connect with, and who in the congregation is looking for a friend or a mentor like you. Ask for a list of missionaries we support and commit to praying for them regularly.
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