Sometimes God doesn’t make sense.
Luke 5:1-11 (ESV Strong’s)
On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land.
And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”
And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.
But 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 and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
SOMETHING FISHY IS GOING ON… GOD DOESN’T MAKE SENSE!
Sometimes God asks us to do things that we don’t understand. That was the situation in this story, when a carpenter’s son told seasoned fishermen how to fish.
On the Sea of Galilee, fishing was big business. This famous body of water eight miles wide and thirteen miles long lay beside a fertile plain. Nine cities crowded its shorelines in Jesus’ day, each with no fewer than fifteen thousand citizens, so the region’s total population may have surpassed that of Jerusalem. And most people were employed in or around the fishing industry.
Shoals just offshore were a fisherman’s dream. Hundreds of fishing boats trawled the lake, and Galileans ate little meat besides fish, usually salted, since there was no other way of preserving a catch.
I’M OVER IT, AND GOD DOESN’T MAKE SENSE
Simon and the gang had been fishing all night without any luck. They were tired, frustrated and ready to quit, when Jesus commandeered their boat as a makeshift pulpit. And once Jesus had finished preaching from the wooden pulpit of a borrowed boat, He zeroed in on a guy called Simon.
This is me preaching in a boat pulpit, btw.
What began as a message to the masses moved to personal directive for an individual. You’ve probably experienced that before—a time when the sermon had your name written all over it.
The thing is, Jesus was a carpenter by trade (Mark 6:3), and what do carpenters know about fishing?
Well, this carpenter nailed it!
It was a well-know fact that, in the Sea of Galilee, you caught fish at night in the shallow water, when they were feeding, not in the daytime in the deep water. What Jesus asked Peter to do was contrary to all of his training and experience.
IT’S TIME TO GET BACK IN THE GAME!
Simon and the Seafarers had worked hard all night, and caught nothing but a cold and a few sneers from competing fishermen. They were tired, flat and unsuccessful, washed up, ready to head home, put their feet up and watch a few episodes of Deadliest Catch. They were spent, and they were beat. Maybe you’re like that right now.
Luke 5:4 (ESV Strong’s)
And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
Interestingly, the Greek word for “Let down” is CHALAO, which means to let down from a higher to a lower place, and it also means to loosen, slacken or relax. Simon and the guys were flat, broken, frustrated and disappointed, they had done all they could using every fibre of strength they had.
And maybe you are there right now. Maybe you’ve tried things, given it your best shot, and it hasn’t worked out. Are you frustrated? You feel like giving up. Success has eluded you. Maybe you’ve done all you can and you’re over it!
It’s time to let down your nets, to step back, relax, loosen your control and let God take control to lead and guide you.
Simon was tired, he was over it, but Jesus had other ideas. His way is in His strength, not yours. His “let down your nets” also means relax a bit, stop striving and let Him do the work. Paul writes,
Philippians 4:13 (ESV Strong’s)
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Let me speak prophetically to someone here… It’s time to get back up and get back in the game. It’s time to step out and do what the Lord wants! You might have had a failed business, a failed relationship, a failed Christian walk, but in God’s economy, a set back is just a set up for a come back. You may have been let down by a pastor, or frozen out, or overlooked, but God still has a plan for your life, and He is saying it’s time to get back in the game.
PUT OUT INTO THE DEEP
Jesus told Peter, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch” (Lk 5:4).
In one short statement, Jesus told him where to go (into the deep, meaning take a chance, do something, go somewhere you’re not familiar with), what to do (let down your nets, take action, stop procrastinating), and what to expect (a great catch, a breakthrough, an opportunity, a chance to make a difference). Right now, I sense that God is telling me and this church to step out, into the deep and get ready for real breakthrough, for abundant harvest!
Maybe God is telling you to step out today. Forget the toil, forget the lack of success, forget the failure and sin… It’s time to make the past last at last!
I hate to quote a Disney movie, but for somebody here it’s time to let it go! The devil will constantly dredge up your past failures, your past sins, your past reputation. But when he reminds you of your past, try reminding him of his future. These fishermen had toiled all night without reward, but the big breakthrough was just around the corner!
I KNOW BETTER BUT…
Luke 5:5 (ESV Strong’s)
And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”
In other words, he said, “Sir, we have tried. There is no hope.”
Simon’s response shows both his frustration and his obedience. He called Jesus master, which implies respect, but he also made it clear that Jesus basically was clueless in his opinion with regards fishing.
What we often forget is that God knows more than we do. I talk to people all the time who say, I don’t think God should have done this or that, or I’m mad at God for letting this happen to me. Or the classic, I’m blaming God because my life is so bad, even though I know I’m the one who made bad decisions!
Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV Strong’s)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
It’s ok to not know all the details… In church, we call this faith. And frankly I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future! Sometimes God doesn’t make any sense, at least as far as we can figure, but in the end here’s 2 clues that God is about to do something surprising…
But sometimes, God doesn’t make sense.
CLUE 1: WHEN NOTHING YOU’VE DONE IS WORKING
Clue number one is this: God is not allowing anything that you do to work.
Perhaps you feel that you have done everything you can—you’ve gone job hunting, read the books, gone to counselling, but things still aren’t working.
Psalms 73:26 (ESV Strong’s)
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Romans 9:16 (ESV Strong’s)
So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
You may have tried your best, you may have failed, you may have blown it. But God is the God is the second chance… And the third. If you’re frustrated, if nothing seems to be working, or maybe you’re even cranky with God. But here’s a thought.. When this happens, it’s likely that you, like Simon Peter, burned out, washed up, are exactly where God wants you to be. Because now He can build what He wants, not what you want.
CLUE 2: WHEN GOD DOESN’T MAKE SENSE!
Clue number two is this: What God asks you to do doesn’t make sense in the natural.
Talk to any fisherman who has worked on the Sea of Galilee, and he will tell you that putting a net into the deep waters in the daytime is not the way to catch fish. What Jesus asked Peter to do contradicted his experience, knowledge, and training. But look at what Simon says…
Luke 5:5 (ESV Strong’s)
And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”
Master, what you are suggesting is ridiculous. But, at YOUR WORD, I will be obedient. Simon may not have wanted to obey. He may have thought it was a dumb idea. But Simon did what Jesus asked! That’s why Proverbs says,
Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV Strong’s)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Simon Peter didn’t understand everything, but made a great decision. He thought he knew better, but he was better to trust the one whose thoughts are higher. Despite not understanding, he decided to be obedient. If that’s you today, make a great decision too.
Jesus didn’t make sense in Simon’s eyes, but Simon decided to obey. So, maybe you can’t figure out where God is going in your life, but will you covenant to be obedient? Will you decide today to trust and obey, for there’s no other way.
THE RESULT… EXCEEDINGLY ABUNDANTLY!
And what was the result… of his obedience?
Luke 5:6-7 (ESV Strong’s)
And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.
These were professional fishermen, using professional gear. But wow. They were overwhelmed by the Blessing of God!
Do you know how many fish it takes to break a fisherman’s net? Neither do I, but on a scale of expectation, it’s off the scale! If we were to ask Paul, he would probably tell us this
Ephesians 3:20 (ESV Strong’s)
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
The Greek for exceedingly abundantly is HYPER-EKEINA, which means way beyond the country where you live. In other words, it’s out of this world! Indeed, God can do “above and beyond” for you as well when you are willing to follow his instructions, despite how far-reaching they may sound.
It doesn’t depend on you understanding God, it depends on you obeying God.
ARE YOU ORDERING GOD OR OBEYING GOD?
So many Christians think it is their God given right to question what God says and does, rather than simply obey. Jesus, the Son of God, facing His torture and death, prayed this prayer…
Luke 22:42 (ESV Strong’s)
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
Yet so many believers I talk to seem to think they can order God around like a performing dog instead of saying “Your will be done.” They think God is here to serve our needs, or rather desires, and give us a comfortable life.
You can pray all you like, you can sacrifice and go to church and talk about God, you can pray for blessing but in the end, what gets God’s attention?
1 Samuel 15:22 (ESV Strong’s)
“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.
Obedience trumps religion, it trumps good intentions, feelings, and giving. So be careful as you pray. If God makes His will clear then pray with all your heart, but be careful not to command or manipulate God to do your bidding.
So even if you don’t understand it, if God directs you, make a commitment now to be obedient, despite your doubts or consequences.
WHICH SEA ARE YOU? A STAGNANT POND OR A CHANNEL
So Peter and company were obedient, and they were blessed. Not just a little bit, but an incredible, overwhelming amount! So what did they do?
Luke 5:7 (ESV Strong’s)
They signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.
In Israel there are 2 great inland seas, the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is actually toxic, you can’t drink it, and nothing lives in the salt concentrated water. It is the lowest point on earth at 430m below sea level. The Jordan river flows into it, but nothing flow out of it. It keeps it all to itself, and becomes dead! But the Sea of Galilee has water from the Jordan river flowing in, and flowing out into the same river. As a result, it is a channel not a stagnant pond, and consequently is alive, full of life.
When God does bless you because of your obedience, even if you don’t understand the details, then you need to not covet that blessing, but share it with others…
How people respond to success is one indication of their true character. Instead of claiming the valuable catch for themselves, Peter and Andrew called their partners to share it.
So are you a channel of blessing, or do you hold it to yourself? Is it all about you, or about Him, and how you can bless others and share with others what God has graciously given to you. Are you stagnant pond or a channel of blessing?
HOW IS GOD ASKING YOU TO TRUST HIM TODAY?
Weary Simon’s act of reluctant obedience was the good and right thing to do, even when God doesn’t make sense. And when he miraculously caught an unprecedented number of fish, Simon decided to share the Blessing.
So what is God asking you to do today? Are you insisting on knowing all of the details, or are you saying, not my will but Yours be done? I believe God is speaking to people here right now, and He’s saying trust me, despite what you see, despite what they say, despite your feelings of failure or discouragement. You may not understand, you may not agree, but can you obey?
Disappointment, if you change one letter, becomes His Appointment! God doesn’t make sense, but trusting Him makes a lot of sense.
The Lord is speaking to people right now, and if you seek first His Kingdom and righteousness, if you obey and honour Him,
Psalms 37:4 (ESV Strong’s)
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
And God is the God of second chances. Jonah ran from God, was thrown overboard, swallowed by a fish and God still gave him a second chance to obey, and an entire city repented. Has God asked you to do something for Him, and you’ve ducked and weaved to avoid it? Today is a day of second chances, even when God doesn’t make sense.
Isaiah 1:19-20 (ESV Strong’s)
If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;
but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword;
Psalms 1:1-3 (ESV Strong’s)
The Way of the Righteous and the Wicked
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.