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“Investigate” – Luke throughout Lent

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					                 “Investigate” – Luke throughout Lent
                  First Sunday in Lent – 25th Feb 2007
                                            Luke 5: 1 - 11
                                “The Calling of the First Disciples”

                  I) Introduction II) Peter the Man                      III) Availability
                    III) Obedience IV) Conviction                        V) Follow him

I) INTRODUCTION
Have you ever wished you had been an eyewitness to an event which you heard about later?
Recently I heard about a head teacher who after an extremely busy day at school was rushing
home late and visited her local butcher just as the shop was closing. She explained that a
number of friends were coming over and that she had hoped to prepare some chicken for their
evening meal. The butcher smiled and said that he thought he could help. He put his hand
into a large plastic barrel under the counter, lifted out his last chicken put it on the scales and
reported that it weighed in at around three and a half pounds. The teacher was a little
uncertain and asked if he had any others. He very casually placed the chicken out of sight
back in the barrel rummaged around as though lifting out another, placed the same chicken
back on the scales and said, while blocking the teachers view of the scales, this one is about a
pound heaver. The teacher hesitated for a moment and then said “I’ll tell you what, let me
have them both”.

Now I would really like to have been there to see how the butcher got out of that one.
Although we may smile at this story there are other events in history that I would like to have
been an eyewitness to. I sometimes try to imagine in my mind what it would have been like
to be present at a particular place and time to witness first hand an event that influenced and
shaped world history.

Over the next six weeks, we will be spending time studying the Gospel of Luke. During this
period running up to Easter which is known as Lent, we will be attempting to, almost go back
in time and focus for ourselves on the life, ministry and death of Jesus as we explore in detail
what it meant to come into contact with Jesus for the first time and to also ask the question
what does it mean to seek to follow Christ today.

However, we have a problem. (Slide 1) Today we live in a world dominated by emails, the
internet, mobile phones, MP3 players, satellite television and multiplex cinemas. Luke’s
Gospel seems to be set in a world of far away and long ago, a world unfamiliar to us today.

To make matters worse Michael Wilcock, a New Testament scholar, writes in his book
entitled “The Message of Luke Today”, (Slide 2) "if there is one thing harder than to chart a
region where the foot of man has seldom trod it is to produce a worthwhile guide book to a
place that everyone knows already". 1




1
    Michael Wilcock, The Message of Luke, (Leicester, IVP, 1979), p.11


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So we find ourselves experiencing that odd sensation of feeling that we have heard it all
before, yet at the same time it seems strange and unfamiliar, while set in a world of far away
and long ago.

However, when we begin to read the Gospel more closely we see in fact that the opposite is
the case. We will discover that Luke is writing about real people with real problems. People,
who come face to face with Jesus, and discover they are often overwhelmed by the power of
God’s love and grace. They discover that they have become profoundly and deeply
transformed and are quite simply never the same again.

In order to study Luke’s Gospel in any detail we should first of all, understand why Luke
writes what he writes. He begins his Gospel with these words, (Slide 3) Luke 1:1-3 “Many
have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as
they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eye-witnesses and servants of
the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the
beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you”.

So we find at the very beginning of his Gospel Luke tells us, in some of the most carefully
polished and well crafted Greek to be found anywhere in the New Testament, that he has
investigated the truth and accuracy of what he is writing. He has talked to the people who
were there, the eyewitness. In fact throughout his Gospel Luke ties down events to people
and places and times and dates. It is no wonder that Luke is known as the historian of the
New Testament because he is keen for his readers to know that what he is telling them
reveals God at work in contemporary society.

Having said all of that by way of an introduction let us go to the passage that we read earlier
together. Turn with me please to Luke 5: 1-11; “The Calling of the First Disciples”

II) PETER THE MAN (Slide 4) Peter the Man
If I were to ask, who are some of the people in the bible that you most readily identify with
many of us would say Peter.

Peter Goes through trials and difficulties we can identify with. He Grows in stages we can
understand. He has an Unpredictable nature, rash, at times impulsive. Yet, like so many
others that came into contact with Jesus, he was to find his life changed and transformed. He
was to become in fact one of Jesus closest friends. At one particularly important point in his
life and one we will return to later, Jesus tells him that “You are Simon, but you will be
Cephas”, “you are... but by my grace “you will be…” these were not empty words of
optimism that some day, somehow, all will be well. These are words of creative authority,
divine power. They come from a God whose love specialises in transforming the heart and
soul of the individual. “You are…” but by my grace “you shall be...”

III) AVAILABILITY (Slide 5) Availability Vs 1-3
By the time we get to Luke chapter five a great deal has happened. There is considerable
gossip, rumour and speculation as to who Jesus is and why he was able to conduct the
miracles we read of in the previous chapter. So here in verses 1- 3 we find Jesus speaking to
a very large crowd who were pressing in around Him, so he got into one of the boats at the
side of the lake and pushed out a short distance from the shore.




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Some I imagine were there out of curiosity, others wanted to hear him preach. Jesus asked
Simon Peter if he could use his boat and he “taught the people from the boat”.v3 For Peter he
was simply going about his normal routine. He had been out fishing all night and was now
preparing his nets for the next night when he was asked by this rabbi if he could u se his boat.
This was I imagine a little unusual but Peter had no idea what was coming.

Jesus was beginning to interact with Peter in the place where he spent most of his working
day. Jesus typically begins with the everyday things. In asking Peter if he could
borrow his boat, in the back of his mind he knew that he wanted Peter’s very life for his use
not simply his boat. Jesus had plans for Peter that Peter could never have anticipated. Yet in
began in the simple everyday things.

Often people will say to ministers when they see us coming and think we are after them to do
something that they could “never teach in Sunday School, lead worship, be an elder” as they
feel that they do not have that kind of ability. When Jesus came into contact with Peter for
the first time, he was not looking for ability or in fact a lack of ability. ( It is not about
ability or lack of ability) First and foremost he was looking for availability.

How open are you for God to begin to work in your life. You may well say I am not the kind
of person that God would be interested in. Frankly I sometimes feel that church is boring,
irrelevant, out of touch with nothing to say. Why would God be interested in me? Maybe
Peter felt exactly the same, but right in the middle of his normal daily routine God was at
work.

Peter was to discover for the first time in his adult life that God often provides
opportunities to grow in grace which manifest themselves in small seemingly
insignificant ways.

Jesus started with the small seemingly insignificant things in the life of Peter and goes on to
teach him about putting everything at his disposal; Jesus was after his very life not just his
boat. For Peter it all began in the place where he spends most of his working life.

So what about you? In your daily routine, your place of work, your family life? Are these
areas of your life at his disposal? Are there areas of your life that need to have a Christian
focus in them? Would you be available for God to begin to change your thinking process,
your mannerisms, habits, they way you treat others? What about your prayer life? Your
reading of the scriptures of time spent alone with God?

Often when God begins to work in the life of an individual at this sort of level he moves us
on from being available for his use, to be obedient to his word.

IV) OBEDIENCE (Slide 6) Obedience Vs 4-7. Peter’s Hesitation
After using his boat for a pulpit Jesus tells Peter to move out into the deep water and let down
the nets for a catch. What Jesus asks Peter to do however introduces some difficulties for
Peter.

I imagine that in Peter’s mind he was thinking. a) Firstly, I am the fisherman - Jesus is a
carpenter, if I wanted a new table and bench set for the family home, or a door re-hinged or a




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set of steps repaired, I would go to a carpenter. But I am the fisherman. I know more about
fishing than Jesus does.
b) Secondly, the day time was not the right time for them to fish. That's why they had been
out all night.
c) Thirdly, the deep was not the place to catch fish as they would be lying in the shallow
water enjoy the heat of the day. Peter had a number of misgivings about Jesus' command.

Yet in V5, he responds by using the word “Master”. He uses it as a term of respect and
continues “we have worked hard all night long and caught nothing”. Here we see recognition
of Jesus as someone special or distinct as Peter uses the term Master. We also see a note of
Personal Submission. However, Peter despite his hesitations goes a step further and we
see a Specific Submission to Jesus when he adds but “because you say so I will”.

He must note that here is the dual basis for discipleship and service. I) Personal submission -
to the general authority of Jesus - Master . II) Secondly - specific submission to - the words
of Jesus.

The lessons for us this morning are that personal submission to the will and guidance of God
in our lives is a basic lesson which all Christians must learn and is a lesson we need to adhere
to daily. For Peter it is a very significant thing to note that almost every failure he had and
each time that he fell in his walk with God, his problem was rooted in a refusal to submit to
the words of Jesus. The classic example is when the disciples were gathered around the table
at the Last Supper and Jesus predicts Peter’s denial. Peter reacts very strongly to Jesus
words "though all deny you I will never deny you - never", Peter thinks he knows better than
Jesus yet less than twelve hours later the words of Jesus had come true and Peter deeply
regretted his actions for a long time.

Sometimes we feel that we know best, we can run our own lives, make our own decisions.
Prayer and relaying on God’s loving care are marginalized, pushed to one side. But when
circumstance mitigates against us and we find ourselves in a difficult place. A place of hurt
and pain, a place of uncertainty. When a friendship ruptures and turns sour, unemployment
looms, there is tension in a marriage, a miscarriage brings days of darkness, ill health crashes
in on our lives. Where do we turn then? Personal and prayerful submission trusting in the
comforting presence of a loving God is as the bible teaches a very real help in times of
trouble.

V) CONVICTION (Slide 7) Conviction V8: "Go away from me Lord, I am a sinful man"
Peter had of course discovered a number of things about Jesus as this situation develops, but
the best was still to come.  What Peter is about to discover shakes him to the very core of
his being. What he discovers makes him cry out to Jesus to go away. Why would that be?

When Peter throws his nets overboard and he realizes what is going on, he understands that
he has come face to face with the majesty and glory of God which is incarnate in Jesus. He is
stunned, shocked, uncertain of what to do. Peter knows what it takes to have fish swim at
will into an open net. He has fished these waters for years and has never seen anything like
this. But then things get worse.

There is for Peter a realization that Jesus is not simply a wandering Rabbi who has the ability
to preach and hold a crowd. Peter begins to experience something of the overwhelming
majesty and glory of God in Jesus himself. Here he sees Jesus in an entirely different


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dimension but he also sees himself in a way that makes him exceedingly uncomfortable and
he cries out "Go away from me Lord, I am a sinful man". Why does he do that? Why does
he not marvel at this great catch of fish or find himself preoccupied with seeking help to land
the catch.

When God puts his hand upon the life of an individual man or woman in such a way that they
are deeply convicted of their own sin it can be an unsettling and unnerving experience. Peter
realized his own unworthiness and he wants to get away from the presence of a holy, perfect,
sinless God.

The conviction Peter was under can be a paralysing thing, but Jesus doesn't leave Peter in that
condition. Recognition of sin is of primary importance in the Christian life and if Peter was
every to experience growth in faith and a drawing close to Jesus he needed to face the sin of
his own life and to seek forgiveness.

To enable Peter to recognize the issues he was facing the comforting words of Jesus who
recognize what Peter was going through struck home. “Do not be afraid”. Jesus understood
that engaging with God in such a manner can be a very difficult process. To face your own
sin, to seek forgiveness and to allow God to begin to transform you into the man or women
he wants you to be is not an easy thing to do. It demands commitment, faith and a growing
dependency on God for your day to day life.

Here was Peter at the very outset of the Gospel, experiencing God at work in his own life and
over the next six weeks we will return again to many of these themes but for this week we
complete our study by highlighting the only action that Peter could do and it was now to
“follow him”.

May it be this week as you seek to grow in your Christian faith that you will read over this
passage again and let the enormity of it sink in and begin to enable you to follow him.

Now that is an event that I would like to witness first hand.

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