Intro: How would you describe true discipleship? Certainly we recognize that not everyone who claims to be a disciple of Christ is one. There are various levels of commitment evident among those who profess to be followers.
- We see this illustrated in the world of sports. There are fans, and then are those who are truly committed to the team. From checking the score of the game the day after, to those who travel with the team and spend their own money to support the efforts.
- What level of discipleship does God require?
I. Read Luke 5:1-11 – Jesus called certain individuals to follow Him. Here the text focuses on Simon Peter. When I read the accounts of Jesus’ calling of his apostles I marvel at the conciseness of his words and the success of His efforts. It seems that Jesus did not need long drawn out explanations of His intentions or detailed agendas to motivate his would-be disciples.
A. Some suggest that this is not the same event as recorded by Matthew 4, but actually the third time that Jesus called these same men to follow Him. If this is so then these callings are progressive and consummate at this time when they “forsook all and followed him.”
B. This event displays some of the necessary elements of discipleship as they first appear in Simon Peter. What Peter needed to be a true disciple I need as well. Jesus calls me to it.
II. Respect for Jesus’ Words: One thing that fishermen learn early in their career is that you do not catch fish every day. Some days are a bust, and you might as well come in early and clean the boat. This seems to be the situation here. Peter and his companions had already been fishing that morning and were back at dock washing their nets. Jesus asked Peter to launch again and use his boat as a floating pulpit.
A. But after the public sermon Jesus had planned a private lesson. Luke 5:4 – 4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” How did Peter respond to Jesus’ request?
1. We have already tried that. Vs. 5 – “We have toiled all night and caught nothing”. Peter undoubtedly had done more fishing than Jesus. He knew that the time for fishing was not the heat of the day, but the cool of the night. Peter had no logical reason to agree with Jesus’ plans to let down the nets again.
2. Moving the boat to deeper water and dropping the nets again was not simple task. It would involve a lot of work for no foreseeable gain. Why would Peter be inclined to listen to fishing advice from a carpenter’s son?
B. “Nevertheless” is an important word in this text. It defines the depth of Peter’s faith in Jesus’ words. Maybe he did not agree, but he would obey. He had confidence in what Jesus said.
1. “at your word I will let down the net” The adverbial phrase “at your word” means “relying on” or “on the ground of” and stands as the sole reason for Peter’s obedience to Jesus’ command.
a. As a parent, did you (or do you) always give reasons along with commands? At times we might be inclined to say “because I said so” and expect that to be enough. For Peter it was enough that Jesus said so.
b. Respect for God’s word is the foundation of true discipleship. Do you believe what God says about everything? Are you willing to follow his counsel despite what others say or what the culture promotes: I know what Jesus says but…?
- Disciplining children – Prov 13:24 – 24 He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
- Assemble to Worship – I know but I have to make a living
- Love my spouse – seek his/her good – You don’t know how difficult he is
- Sexual purity – can we expect young people to remain sexually pure just because it is the right thing? I know God doesn’t approve of us living together, but we can’t financially afford to live separately.
c. The words of God alone have always been enough for the true follower. Noah built an ark “at his word”; Abraham offered his own son as a sacrifice “at His word”.
C. Disciples respond to the words of Jesus because they respect what he says above everyone else. Psalm 119:33-34 – 33 Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. 34 Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.
D. God rewards confident faith and comprehensive obedience. When Peter let down the nets the catch of fish was so enormous that the nets began to break. They summoned the other boat (Sons of Zebedee) to help them and when they loaded the fish in the boats they began to sink! How did Peter respond to witnessing Jesus’ miracle?
II. Fear of Jesus’ Power (authority) – Luke 5:8-9 – 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying,” Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken;
A. Peter wasn’t just “wowed” he was terrified. Jesus really was in control and Peter was convinced of His power. The implication was clear – Jesus was God – and Peter was in the presence of God.
B. Adam Clarke says… Peter was fully convinced that this draught of fish was a miraculous one; and that God himself had particularly interfered in this matter, whose presence and power he reverenced in the person of Jesus. But as he felt himself a sinner, he was afraid the divine purity of Christ could not possibly endure him; therefore he wished for a separation from that power, which he was afraid might break forth and consume him. It seems to have been a received maxim among the Jews, that whoever had seen a particular manifestation of God should speedily die. [Jacob was amazed that he had wrestled with God and survived; Gideon was fearful for his life when saw the angel of God in Judges 6; God told Moses in Ex 33:20 – “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”]
C. There are some who claim a respect for God’s words, but do not see themselves as sinners before a Holy God. God is viewed as a doting grandfather who would never discipline them. (Me and Brady).
1. Do you fear the Holy God whom you serve? Matt 10:28 – 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 2 Cor 7:1- Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Heb 12:28-29 – 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.
D. There are some disciples who live their lives in fear of God’s punishment and never feel secure in the relationship. They are so afraid of displeasing Him that they hide their talent in the earth and do nothing. Jesus points Peter in another direction here. Luke 5:10 – …And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”
1. Even though Peter was a sinful man in the presence of a Holy God, Jesus was not seeking to destroy Peter, but bless him. He had Peter’s best interest at heart, and He does ours as well. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance. Again Peter is called upon to trust in the words of Jesus (do not be afraid). A true disciple must believe what Jesus says about mercy and grace and forgiveness. God is working in my behalf. How does Peter respond?
III. Surrender to Jesus’ Will: Luke 5:11 – So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him. Does this surprise you? It should not surprise us that because this is what Jesus was seeking and expecting from them. The goal of Jesus’ call to be a disciple is the total surrender of the disciple to His Will. There are many who call themselves Christians or disciples who have never realized this demand.
A. In Luke 14 Jesus says three times that some people cannot be His disciples. There is a popular notion that anyone can be Jesus’ disciple, on his own terms and in his own manner. You dare not judge another’s decision or the extent of their commitment.
- Luke 14:26 – If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. Jesus must come before your family, or any other relationship.
- Luke 14:27 – And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. The true disciple must be willing to suffer and die just as Jesus did. Jesus’ cross does not represent unintentional death or miscarriage of justice. But it represents the voluntary acceptance of death for the cause of God. Not every disciple will have to die because of their faith in Christ, but every disciple must be willing to die.
- In the last part of Luke 14 Jesus warned against not counting the cost of our choices. If a man builds a tower he does a cost analysis. Jesus says if one is preparing to go to war, he measures his resources and forecasts his casualties. Luke 14:33 – 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
1. What have you forsaken for Christ? Surely every disciple should be able to list something he has given up. (bad habit, relationship, time slot, activity, etc?) What did Peter, John and James give up? They forsook all. The challenge
IV. Hope in Jesus’ Promises: The question comes to us, Why would these men leave their nets to follow Jesus? Because Jesus gave them hope that they could catch men. Luke 5:10 – “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” Matthew 4:19 says… Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
A. “Launch out into the deep” Jesus was sending them to work. Disciples do the work that Jesus calls them to. The primary work that Jesus placed before these disciples was making more disciples. But what did this miracle teach them about their work?
1.”Fishing for men” is the primary work. Every other pursuit, even those that seem most beneficial and necessary are subordinate to this one. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, so his disciples must follow His example. How many times have you been fishing for men?
2. But fishing is not the same as catching. Catching men is Jesus’ work. Jesus did not show Peter how he could catch more fish, even though Peter had just put more fish in his boat than ever before. This demonstration was not about Peter, but about Jesus. Jesus did not command them to go and catch men, he promised them they would catch men. It was a promise. Disciples must place their confidence in Jesus to accomplish His work. If we cast the net, God will provide the fish. It we sow the seed Jesus will provide the harvest. We must have confidence in the power of God in our efforts to catch men. (1 Cor. 3:6 – Paul planted, Apollos watered, God gave the increase)
Conclusion: The decision that Peter, James and John made that day on the shore was just the beginning. But every decision that they would make from that day forward would either contradict or confirm this one. Have you made the decision to be a disciple?
- Do you have respect for Jesus’ words?
- Do you recognize that you are a sinner in the presence of a Holy God? Do you fear Him?
- Are you willing to surrender your life to His will rather than serve yourself? Will you obey Him?
- Do you have hope and confidence in His promises?