One of my favorite questions to ask missionaries is how they said yes to mission. No testimony is quite like another. The same goes for Jesus in the gospels, when He called the first missionaries, His disciples.
Recently, my Holy Hour has included praying with the gospel of Luke and witnessing the ways Jesus called, taught, and lived with the first missionaries.
This is what Jesus brought up in my prayer with this passage. I invite you to pray with it as well.
At the very beginning, Jesus steps into Simon’s boat. It’s an intentional decision. I can picture the confusion on Simon’s face and I wonder if he was secretly listening to Jesus teach.
Jesus tells them to “put out into the deep and lower your nets for a catch.” This isn’t a question or a suggestion. He calls them to fish in the deep water, out into the unknown, the dark, the hard. The deep is similar to our world today. It holds many lost, hurting, broken hearts. Jesus asks us to go right into the middle of it and to lower our nets, to bring people back to Him.
Simon tries to explain their problem. They’ve been working all night with nothing to show for it and they’re exhausted. With the rejection of unanswered text messages, perplexed glances returned to greetings, and turning down invitations, I understand Simon’s exhaustion. Will it really work this time, Lord? But again, Jesus isn’t asking.
So they obey, treading out into the deep and casting out their nets. It is in this attempt, in their obedience to Him and willingness to answer the call, that Jesus calls the fish. I love to imagine the look on their faces. The gasps, wide eyes, and turning excitedly to catch glances of each other’s awe. Jesus loves to surprise us. Sometimes He calls others back at unexpected times. Because there’s fish underneath that Simon and his crew didn’t catch that day, but Jesus works in everyone’s heart at a different pace. Maybe you couldn’t reach them today, but Jesus uses us after several asks or perhaps someone else years down the line. It shouldn’t deter us from being bold, having courage, and casting the net wide.
Notice that the weight is so great, the fisherman have to call others to help them. We were not made to carry the weight alone. The assistance and willingness of others to live mission with us is essential. On a night after prayer, a missionary friend pulled me back to this passage, bringing up an aspect of the story I hadn’t realized. When the men ask for help, Jesus is still with them. Even when we call upon others, Jesus never leaves our boat.
Futhermore, amidst the awe and joy of the success, something is happening in Simon’s heart. He realizes who stepped into his boat moments ago. Falling to his knees, he confesses his sinfulness to Jesus. It is here, with Simon’s knees pressed into the sand and the weight of human brokenness weighing him down that he experiences a deep conversion of heart. While the catch brought joy and satisfaction, Simon needs Christ’s mercy. But Jesus isn’t concerned with Simon’s past faults. He’s already looking at the man in front of Him and the future that’s planned for him. Jesus sees beyond Simon’s sin because He calls him to something much greater. He calls Simon to the man He’s created him to be, a fisher of men.
Then, we realize this isn’t just Simon’s story. His testimony touches the hearts of James and John, who witness Christ’s work in Simon’s life. The ways Christ touches our hearts cannot be contained. Our testimonies have the power to change others. A personal encounter with Jesus and transformed heart is something no one can deny. James and John see the impact, they see the difference, and they want in.
This is Jesus’ call. To step out, boldly cast our nets wide, enlist others to join the fight, and share everything that happens along the way. Out of the ordinary and into the deep.
Scripture passage courtesy of: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/luke/5