The Message, February 6, 2022, "Deep Water"

The Message, February 6, 2022, "Deep Water"

Author: Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
February 08, 2022

 

“Deep Water”
A Message by Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
Luke 5:1-11

            Have any of you had the opportunity to go to Israel? I know that some of you have. I was fortunate enough to go on a fourteen day study tour back in 1999. One of the reasons that this story this morning resonates with me is because I was there.

            We began our tour in Galilee. We spent our first couple of nights in a vacation village on the Sea of Galilee … or … Lake Gennesaret. We slept in little cottages and ate in the dining room. The food was amazing! The hummus was incredibly fresh, and on the salad bar they had a dill/yogurt dip that was out of this world.

            A few of us even went for swim in Galilee/Gennesaret. The “sea” is very shallow along the shore. I had to walk way out from the beach before the water level even came up to my waist.

            On the second day, we climbed aboard a replica of a first century fishing boat and went across to Capernaum and ate at a restaurant that served St. Peter’s fish. The boat ride was not long. The lake is only eight miles wide. From the boat, we were better able to see the contours and characteristics of the coastline. It was rocky and craggy with little inlets all around the shore.

            And it was in one of those little inlets that our passage for this morning likely took place.

            As we heard in the Children’s Lesson a couple of weeks ago, Jesus visited the synagogue in Capernaum. He preached and taught, and he also performed a number of healings. People brought their ill to Jesus hoping that he would cure them. And then at some point Jesus knew that he had to move on, but the people pleaded with him to stay. He told them that he could not. He had to bring the message of the Gospel to people across the region.

            We can imagine that the crowd that was following Jesus that day was made up of some of the people that had been in the synagogue. They pressed in hoping to hear more. Perhaps they were still bringing their sick with them hoping that Jesus would cure them. In order to be better heard, Jesus climbed into a fishing boat and pushed out from shore. The little inlet would have created a natural amphitheater, the sound traveling easily across the surface of the water.

            And then, as we heard, after he was done speaking, he asked Simon Peter to push out to the deep water and drop his nets. Clearly, Jesus was done speaking, but he was not done teaching.

            We do not know if Simon Peter and the others knew who Jesus was. But he was being followed by a crowd of people. Obviously, there was something special about that man. Peter initially objected stating that they had toiled all night with no results. However, Peter relented … according to Jesus’ word … meaning that Jesus was responsible for whatever happened … and the result was the miraculous catch of fish!

            When I was in Israel, we visited a museum in which archeologists were working to salvage a first-century fishing boat that had been discovered in the mud. The boat was approximately twenty-three feet long and eight or nine feet wide. It would take a lot of fish to nearly sink that boat. The catch of fish was miraculous! It was a supernatural event!

            The power of the event caused Simon Peter to drop to his knees and proclaim his sinfulness …. his unworthiness. To which Jesus replied, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will be catching people.”

            Imagine what that moment must have been like.

            Imagine that you are Peter. You are tired from a long night’s labor. You are exhausted and you are frustrated because you did not catch any fish. You will have nothing to bring to market. You and your crew have worked your whole lives as fishermen. Every day you perform the same chores … loading the nets, pushing out to deep water, dropping and pulling nets over and over again, going back to shore, unloading, cleaning and repairing the nets to be ready for the next day.

            And then Jesus asks you to do that same something that you have done thousands of times before. But this time, the result is completely different! Not just from the previous night’s work, but different from anything that you had ever seen!

            How would you respond in that situation?

            And now … imagine that you are not one of the fishermen, but rather you are one of the crowd on the shore. Imagine that you followed Jesus after he left the synagogue. You pressed closer as he began to speak from the back of the boat. He spoke with such power and authority. And then he stopped.

            He asked the fisherman to put out into the deep water. You lean this way and that trying to see what was going on. Can you see anything? Can you hear anything? Maybe you can see the surface of the water roil and boil with the activity of the fish. Maybe you can see the men straining to pull in their nets. You see the other boat going out to help, and then watch the two boats return overflowing with fish.

            What is it with this Jesus? How is it that such amazing things happen in his presence?

            Why did you follow him out there? Were you just curious? Or were you searching for something? Hoping for something?

            In Luke’s account of the call of the disciples, we never heard Jesus say, “Follow me.” He simply declares, “From now on you will be catching people.”

            He does not need to extend the invitation. He knows what is working in their hearts. He knows that they will follow.

            How could they not?

            What about you? What about me? What about we? How could we not follow as well?

            But … what does it mean for us to push out into the deep water?

            A few weeks ago, I shared the story with you about how I nearly drowned when I was ten years old. I went swimming right here in Ocean Park when there was a storm approaching and got caught in a riptide. I was being pulled farther and farther out until someone swam out and pulled me to shore.

            For years after that event, I never swam at high tide. I was terrified of the undertow. I was afraid of the deep water. Whenever someone asked if I wanted to go to the beach, I would always check the tide chart. So you see, I did not mind the shallow water of Galilee.

            But Jesus knew that one does not catch fish in the shallow water. You have to drop your nets where the water is deep.

            Too often, churches … and the Christians that gather there … want to stay in the shallow water. It is nice there. You can wade, dip your toes, maybe even set up your beach chair and let the gentle waves lap at your feet. It is safe in the shallow water. You can see the bottom and you are close to shore.

            However, sometimes we need to push off from the shore. We have to venture out into the uncertainty of the deep water. We have to be willing to do things in a different way.

            Let me point out that Jesus never told Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John that they were doing anything incorrectly. He never implied that they did not know how to fish. Instead, his lesson was that their efforts combined with his power resulted in a very different outcome.

            In the same way, we need to listen for the leading of Jesus Christ. We must allow ourselves to go where he calls us. He may ask us to continue with what is familiar, or he may call us to do something completely new.

            Jesus left the synagogue and took his message on the road. Jesus met Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John where they were … in their boats. He did not wait for them to wander into the synagogue, he went to them. He met them in the midst of their everyday lives, and he showed them the power of his presence in their lives.

            This lesson speaks to us today. Whoever we may be in the story, or wherever we may be, this lesson still speaks.

            Some folks may be like the fishermen. Some folks have been laboring long and hard. Some people are tired and frustrated. They do not want to push off from the shore. They have worked and have nothing to show for it. They may not feel the presence of Jesus in their labors anymore. They may be doing what they have always done because that is what they have always done.

            Some folks may more closely resemble someone in the crowd on the shore. Some folks are following, searching for something. They may be pilgrims searching for something, but they may not know what it is. They may be looking for a release from a burden. They may be searching for peace. They may have heard something about this Kingdom of Heaven, and desperately hope to find their way there.

            Whoever we are in the story, Jesus is speaking to us. Jesus is inviting us. Jesus is calling us to journey with him.

            “Come with me into deep water.”

            “Come with me and find your peace.”

            “Come with me. Follow me to the Kingdom of Heaven.”

            Amen.


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