Jesus comes to disrupt business as usual. Jesus interrupts our lives so that we might truly live.
In Luke 5:1-11, Jesus appears as innovative preacher, out in the early morning preaching to commercial fisherman as they come in from a long hard night working the Sea of Galilee. Remember after Easter how Jesus built a beachside fire, roasting bread and frying fish to feed the disciples (John 21). After the heavy, wet, natural-fiber rope nets are dragged from the boats, washed and hung out on racks to dry to prevent rot, Jesus begins teaching. Peter already knows Jesus. Luke tells us Christ preached in the synagogue and healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Already, the crowds are swelling as Jesus teaches and heals (4:37). Luke reports “the crowd was pressing in on Jesus to hear the word of God.” To accommodate the crowd, Peter unties his boat; Jesus moored a few feet from shore creating a little sanctuary; the bow is a pulpit, the shore line makes a sloped auditorium for the crowd to listen to Jesus’ teaching.
We do not know what Jesus preached, but Matthew chapters 5 to 7 gives us a taste of Jesus’ message. Jesus begins: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile, persecute and utter evil against on my account. Rejoice, for great is your reward in heaven, for that is the way they treat the prophets” (Matthew 5:2-12). In Luke’s Gospel, Peter responds in the context of Jesus’ preaching.
When Jesus finished teaching he said to Peter, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” Peter, raised on the water and making his living running fishing boats, directs his crew to gather the clean nets that are already drying in the sun and load them into a boat. After fishing all night with no luck, Peter casts cleaned and drying nets into the water. The casting of a hundred pounds of clean gear back into the seas speaks of Peter’s faith, friendship and love for Jesus, a carpenter turned preacher.
Peter and his crew sail or row out into the deep water. They let the nets out in a large circular pattern hoping to trap fish and then hand over hand draw in the heavy wet nets back into the boat. Out in the deep water, the wood floats visible atop the water start quivering as schools of fish collide into Peter’s nets. “We got some fish boys.” Peter and his men haul in the catch; so many fish strain against the nets that the nets begin to rip apart. Out beyond earshot they signal their partners who frantically sail Second Peter alongside Peter’s first boat to help haul in the miraculous catch. As they toss fish into the hull, they fill one boat and then a second exceeding the yellow sticker listing the Coast Guard Maximum Weight Rating. The fish swamped boats float dangerously low in the water.
What do we make of this story? We often mention Jesus’ miracle of water to wine at the weddings, but what do we do with this story? Should we tell it at the chamber of commerce social? What will they do with all these fish? Can you imagine the party at the docks as everyone gets paid, every fish cleaner, every salt cannery, every idle hand? What will this do for Capernaum’s economy? What if Jesus finds fish like this every day? Can you picture Peter’s smile as Jesus christened the new boats in his fleet as 4rd Peter and 5th Peter? What do we make of this story? This is not business as usual!
What do we make of this story where Jesus calls Peter out into the deeper waters and blesses Peter’s business beyond anyone’s wildest dreams? Peter immediately acknowledges God’s work. Luke reports, “But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees.”
What do we do with this story? At times, feel-good prosperity preachers use it to tell us that Jesus came to bring us prosperity. Jesus came to bless our business. If Jesus came to enrich Christians, why aren’t the Jesus Investment Group, the 1st Peter Fund and 3rd John Bank dominating Wall Street? Why would God leave heaven just to miraculously bless what Peter is already doing? No, Jesus comes to interrupt business as usual.
Jesus did not come to set Peter up as a fishing baron, running a vast fishing enterprise. Jesus did not endure the cross, our denial, our sin, and our shame simply to bless our business, school, or home. Jesus came to interrupt business as usual. Peter will soon be sleeping in barns, backrooms, church basements, and even fields (Luke 9:58). Peter will follow Jesus, get a new name, chat with Jesus, challenge Jesus, deny Jesus, walk on water, heal, feed 5,000, open a food bank, preach on Pentecost, lead the church, and welcome the Gentiles into the church. Jesus calls Peter out into the deeper waters and radically redefines Peter’s life.
Jesus comes to bring us the abundant life (John 10:10). Yes, we find eternal life and purpose only in Jesus (Mark 8:34). And our loving Lord beckons us, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30). Jesus does not offer us an additional yoke to carry, Jesus comes to break the false yokes and give us a new yoke perfectly suited for us! Still, Jesus did not leave heaven to bring about business as usual. Jesus came to bring the Kingdom of God! Jesus comes to interrupts our lives.
How foolish to think Almighty God can be employed as a charm, device, or plan to get the things we want? When we get to heaven, will we boast about how many fish we caught, widgets we made, the beauty of our kitchen renovation, or the assets we amassed? The prosperity Gospel smacks more of ancient pagan manipulation than Christian discipleship and worship. The story is not about catching fish, for at the conclusion Peter immediately leaves behind the miraculous catch, his nets, and his boats and follows Jesus.
When we preachers oversell the blessings, we may be deluding Jesus’ message: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their soul? (Mark 8:34-37)
What do we do with the story? Let’s keep on reading beyond the glimmering gills. Hear the Word of God: Amazed by the miracle catch, Peter cries, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” Jesus reassures Peter, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
Will you wade out into the deeper waters, where Jesus redefines life’s purpose. Peter, your life will no longer center around commercial fishing, but around people. You will fish for men and women. How strangely sad that so many live their lives for fish, widgets, wheels, toys, homes, money or stuff. Jesus calls us to fish for people: to bring Good News and Healing to others. Jesus calls us to lay down our nets and take up a deeper purpose! Jesus comes to interrupt our lives so that we might truly live.
Jesus does not call every fisherman to leave their nets, but calls all of us to live for more than fish, the office, the work, the paycheck, the investments, the cars, the toys, the funds and the houses. Jesus calls us away from the docks into the deeper water of nobler pursuits, deeper significance, increased community, and greater service. “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” Life is not about fish. Faith, hope and love is all we will take with us when we leave this life! Jesus endured the cross to save souls and invites all who follow him into the soul tending business.
The call of Jesus comes as an interruption. Jesus calls us out of the kiddie pool of self-interest and self-absorption into the deeper spiritual water. Jesus calls us to do more than catch fish, make widgets, earn interest, build a house and a life. Listen for our Lord’s business in these familiar quotes!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life…” (John 3:16) and “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as in heaven” (Matthew 6:10)
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18)
“You are the light of the world… Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side… Again, Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” He breathed on them saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven…” (John 20:19-22)
Jesus comes to interrupt our lives so that we might truly live.
This world ascribes worth based on the fish we catch, the widgets we make, the assets we accumulate, the wins we record, and the chairs we sit in; it is easy to live for fish. Life’s purpose is not catching fish, making widgets, or building a house. Peter, seeing Jesus’ power sees the insignificance of fishing for fish! Jesus is not calling all of you to become preachers, but Jesus is calling all of you to live for more than fish. The Apostle Paul never quit working as a tent-maker. Jesus most likely is not calling you into a new profession, but surely is calling you to live for more than fish! Jesus comes to interrupt our lives so that we may truly live!
Jesus comes to interrupt our lives so that we might truly live. Jesus calls us out into deeper waters of faith, hope and love- justice, goodness and mercy:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile, persecute and utter evil against on my account. Rejoice, for great is your reward in heaven, for that is the way they treat the prophets.”
We easily miss the little detail that as the nets hung clean and drying Jesus was preaching from the bow of Peter’s boat. Peter heard the message about the Kingdom of God, so when the miraculous catch arrived, Peter knew Jesus was calling him into more than fishing for fish. Jesus calls us all into the deeper waters. Jesus calls us to live for more than fish! Jesus comes to interrupt our lives so that we might truly live.
But what do we do with Peter’s proclamation: “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinner!” Does Peter feel unworthy? Oh Lord, go away, for I am a sinner, if you knew what I said on these docks when you are not around! Maybe Peter felt judged by religious folks and unworthy? Does Peter feel unable? Lord, go away, I have a family, a business, guys that count on me for a paycheck. Does Peter feel unchangeable? Lord, go away, I have been doing life too long to now change. Business as usual is always easier. Jesus comes to interrupt our lives so that we may truly live!
Hear Peter’s honest confession, “Go away from me Lord, for I am sinful man?” When did you last say boldly to Jesus, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinner”? Peter out in deeper waters beyond the kiddie pool of self-absorption and self-gratifying prosperity knows Jesus did not come to bless his fishing business! Peter intuits that Jesus came to interrupt his life. Peter knows Jesus came to save the world, love the world, change the world, build God’s Kingdom, make disciples, make peace, feed the crowds, heal the sick, visit the prisons, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, love neighbors, do right by enemies, stand with the widow, protect the orphan, fish for people, bring good news to the poor, and heal the nations. Are we honest enough with ourselves and God to confess that we at times feel like saying “go away from me Jesus, I am a sinner”? Do we allow Jesus’ holy and blessed interruption that changes everything? Do we drop business as usual and begin to fish for more than fish? Listen to Jesus’ call: “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” If we never understand that Jesus comes to disrupt our business as usual, we will live our lives for fish.
Will we live for fish or the Kingdom of God? Let us not be content to live for fish, widgets or houses. Let us wade out into the deep water. Let us sit in the boat with Jesus. Just you and Jesus in the boat- floating there over the waves or dead calm of your life. Listen for Christ’s command. Cast those nets out into the deep water! Save the world, love the world, change the world, make disciples, make peace, feed the crowds, heal the sick, visit the prisons, clothe the naked, comfort the weak, welcome the stranger, love neighbors, do right by enemies, stand with the widow, protect the orphan, fish for people, bring good news to the poor, heal the nations, live for love, live in hope, live with faith, take the easier lighter yoke, lay down your life, take up your cross, save your life, find life, follow Jesus. Oh, sinful friends, do not be afraid! Come drop the nets- wade into deeper waters- live for more than fish. Allow Jesus to interrupt your life so that you might truly live! Amen!