by the Rev. Dr. Cecelia A. Walker
Director, Pastoral Care & CPE
“So it was, as the multitudes pressed against Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Sea of Galilee, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.” -- Luke 5:1-3
The Sea of Galilee which is the setting of the scripture quoted above is really a lake, about thirteen miles long, eight miles wide with a maximum depth of 141 feet. Comparatively, the Sea of Galilee isn’t as majestic as the Great Lakes of North America and yet it is a very significant place in the Bible where miracles and life transforming events happened. It was there that Jesus walked on water, calmed an angry sea and recruited His disciples. An ordinary place, where extraordinary things took place!
I am struck by the ordinariness of the scene in Luke 5. Jesus uses a fisherman’s boat as a pulpit to teach the crowd. The fishermen carried on as usual …washing their nets after a long night’s work. When Jesus finished teaching, He shifted His focus to Simon whom He instructed to “launch out into the deep and let down his nets for a catch”, to which Peter responded “we have toiled all night and caught nothing, nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” I can almost hear the weariness in Peter’s response and again I am moved by the ordinariness of Jesus’ request. He is asking a professional fisherman to fish! What persuaded an experienced fisherman like Simon Peter to cast his net into waters he and his partners had already fished all night and caught nothing? More significantly, what convinces people like you and me – who have tried and failed and repeatedly experienced significant setbacks – to go back into deep water and fish again?
Have you ever become discouraged because you have struggled with a major concern in your life and solved nothing? How do we move beyond what our history has determined as “just the way things are” to catch something meaningful and transforming for ourselves? I think the answer can be found in Luke 5:1: “…the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God…” Peter recognized that Jesus was no ordinary man. Only when we encounter the Word of God, Jesus Christ, can life-enhancing transformation take place.
This story demonstrates an important truth about God: He works in and through ordinary people and circumstances to accomplish His will. When we join Him in His work we accomplish far beyond what we can do on our own. God chooses ordinary people, like you and me, as His ambassadors and He uses the ordinary circumstances of our daily lives and work situations to draw others into His kingdom.
Holy God, in the name of Jesus, I thank You for how You insinuate Yourself into our ordinary lives, at ordinary times, in ordinary places and remind us that no matter what our past has been, in this moment we have the opportunity for a new life and a new mission. Thank You for the net in the bottom of our boats. At Your Word, Lord Jesus, we will launch out into the deep and cast our nets again. Thank You for Your abundant blessings. In Jesus’ name, Amen.