Sunday, February 10, 2019

Cast your nets deeper

Today’s scripture is sometimes titled as the “Calling of Simon”.  Do you hear a call in here?  Is there a moment when Jesus says “come follow me? It is also said that there is a miracle in here what is the miracle? How does this miracle work or what does it do?

“The miracles of Jesus provide human beings with some benefit.  They meet human need, whether for healing or for deliverance from the fearful powers of the sea. Despite the way it has troubled some interpreters, even the miracle at Cana provides the need of wine for those who celebrate a wedding.”[1]

There seems to be some important things happening in this story. As it often happens, there is a crowd pressing against Jesus and so to better be heard he gets in a boat and asks the owner to push out a few feet. He is not too far out but far enough to deliver a message without fear of being pushed into the lake by the crowd. Then he sat down and delivered his message.  

Remember last week I mentioned that it was tradition for a Rabbi/teacher to sit and give the lesson. Here it may just be practical …have you ever tried to stand in a boat. It can be a little precarious.

It is interesting, well at least to me, we know nothing of what Jesus’ message was that day.  There is no hint as to what he had to say. What we do know is that as soon as he was finished, he turned to Simon and said; “Put out into the deep and let down your nets to catch something.” Of course, Simon lets his brain engage before his heart and states “Master the whole night we have been laboring and caught nothing…” Then his heart engages, and he says, “but at your word I will let down my nets.”

I cannot imagine what Jesus taught that day, but he had Simon as a captive audience.  Simon alone was in that boat with him and Simon saw all and heard all.  You have to see this in your mind’s eye…Jesus asks Simon to row out a little way and sits down to teach.

This means either Jesus is seated next to Simon or in front of him.  Simon can hear all Jesus is saying and sees the crowd and their reactions as well.

We then get a glimpse of stubborn Simon and even though he is being kind of practical even in that moment he knows enough to call Jesus Master, then as he goes out and he catches a bunch of fish so much, so it is about to sink his boat and that of the others who were there as well.

Arland J Hultgren Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN points out  that

“Clearly the main figure on the scene, apart from Jesus himself, is Simon Peter. It is his boat that Jesus uses. It is he to whom Jesus speaks first, asking him to go into the deep water. Conversely, Simon Peter is the only person who speaks to Jesus. He addresses him as "master" (Greek: epistat ēs, a term used for tutors and teachers) at 5:5. But after the miraculous catch, he addresses him as "Lord" (kyrios) at 5:8. Likewise, Simon Peter is the only one whom Jesus addresses directly, both when he tells him to go into the deep water (5:4). And, interestingly, even at the end of the story when he says, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people" (5:10), for in Greek the verbs are second person singular.”[2]

Luke does something interesting here After the fish are caught and the boats are full Simon Peter falls to his knees.  Simon Peter? Throughout the text he had been called Simon but now in his awe he is Referred to as Simon Peter indicating a spiritual shift in this man once called Simon.

There is such a shift in him that he says; “Go away from for I am a sinful man Lord.” I believe it is safe to say that this is not something that is on Simon Peters heart all along. It is through his experience of Jesus, of Jesus preaching and teaching and even catching fish, it is through Simons Peter’s experience that this shift and act of contrition occurs.

We do not know what Jesus said to the People, Jesus has said nothing to Simon Peter except move out to deeper water.  Let’s get out of this shallow place and go deeper. There is so much Metaphor possible there though I am not sure it was the authors intent. But I like it for it is when we go deeper that more is revealed to us.

It is when we develop sacred practices and a deep spiritual relationship with God and Christ that we can grow into who we are called to be as disciples of Christ. It is through study of scripture…Listening to Jesus words and watching what Jesus does and how he acts and even how people react and learn and are changed in his presence it is through that that we go deeper.

It is through our observation of seeking God in the world today.  If we are looking for the face of Christ, we will find it in our brothers and sisters all around us.

If we take time to be still and listen, we will hear the words of Jesus on our heart and will feel the invitation to go to deeper water still.

There is something about starting a spiritual practice that makes us want to go further.  There is something about a deep intentional relationship with the beloved that makes our spirit hungry for more.

Jesus never really calls Simon nor the others in this story, at least not in the way it is expressed in other Gospels. Jesus has much been more like a river to the stone.  He is alongside Simon Peter and John and James. He has taught on the lake.  They have heard him. And then he says let’s go fish.
They have been fishing all night and nothing….

Have you ever lost something or misplaced it looked everywhere for it and then someone says have you looked right here?  The answer is hundreds of times, and I am frustrated and why are you asking me to look here again oh here it is!!

That’s today miracle Jesus asks them to look one more time…This isn’t about the fish…This isn’t about the Fish…It’s about the miracle of seeing different…the miracle is their hearts shifted…The miracle is they went deeper and saw Jesus…Not just another teacher …not just another preacher…They saw Jesus

Now they do not understand what they have seen, they do not understand what they have experienced, yet the lives they once had, are gone now.

Jesus says do not be afraid…You see when the Gospel states that astonishment had seized them it is not the good kind.  It is the kind of surprise that comes with fear even terror perhaps.  So, Jesus states do not be afraid…

This do not be afraid is a shift in the way one behaves in front of the holy and the sacred.  It is a gentle reminder that comes to us throughout the sacred texts.  It is often the greeting of an angel or a messenger fromm God. 

Fear and astonishment are a common reaction in front of the sacred.  Most often because it is so beyond our comprehension and understanding and yet God, the angels, God messengers often open with do not be afraid. Why should we be afraid this is an all loving God coming to teach us how to live and love as part of a greater spiritual community.


“The story of the call of Jesus' first disciples is fitting for the Epiphany Season, a time in which the church celebrates the gift of Jesus Christ as a "manifestation" (epiphania) of God, and gives thoughtful consideration to his mission to the world.
Jesus has come into the world to reveal God and to redeem the cosmos. But he is known to us only through the witness of his apostles. The call of the first disciples marks the beginning of a movement that culminates in the founding of the church. The church did not come into existence through a group of persons who wanted to start a good, even benevolent, organization. From the gospels, we learn that it had its beginning with Jesus, who called certain persons to follow him. He created a community of disciples who heard him preach and teach, heal, and finally suffer, die, and rise from death on the first Easter.”[3]
The story of the Church can be reflected in this unique calling.  We are called to Catch people…
“To be sure the image of “catching people” is troubling today because of its violence and its one way of mode of relationship. Nevertheless, its function is …to encourage the church to drop its nets in deeper water.  Deeper water or the ocean often represents chaos for the sea is unpredictable. So, let us drop our nets into deeper water the chaos of life today, and witness to the Kindom of God and to invite people into the movement towards on earth as it is in Heaven.

We can see the threat of chaos every day in national politics, relationships among races and ethnic communities, international relationships, and many other places. According to Luke, the church continues the apostolic tradition when it offers individuals, households, and communities the values and practices of the Kindom of God as an alternative way of life.

We do this by gently being who we are right next to our neighbor and our community.  We do not evangelize with words, or tracts, or billboards.  We catch people with love, compassion and action.  It is through our presence here in the community hall, in the food bank and at marches and rallies. We catch people by being there in their hour of need and more importantly after the hour of need has passed.

We catch people by offering a place of refuge here in sanctuary or out in our community garden.

Perhaps we can be the river against the stone in other ways as well?? Open studio for crafts people? Bible study? Book Group?  Movie group? Supper club? Community of practice? Centering prayer? Labyrinth walks? Walking meditation? 

These are some of the many ways in which we can be a sacred safe place for church folk and non-church folk alike.

You see the call is not from now on oyu will catch people the call is cast your nets into deeper water!

So, “The story of the church is reflected to some degree in this story itself. When Jesus calls, Peter is hesitant and thinks that what Jesus asks of him is both unnecessary and too demanding. Nevertheless, Peter responds, and he discovers that life has a surprise in store for him. By doing what Jesus asks him to do, he experiences an epiphany of God.
God often becomes manifest in the ordinary, even seemingly unnecessary events of a person's life -- events which nevertheless are in accord with some purpose that is or is not known. Throughout history the church has continued to exist and carry on its ministry in spite of the tenuous responses of its members. The ancient image of the church as a fisherman's boat tossed about on the sea, but sustained by the presence of the living Lord, is appropriate in every age.
The commissioning of Peter is of particular importance. He became a leader among the Twelve during the earthly ministry of Jesus (as at Luke 9:20, 33; 12:41; 18:28) and also as a powerful preacher and leader in the early church. Although he alone is addressed in this particular story, both he and the other disciples are commissioned by the risen Lord to carry on the mission of Jesus (see Luke 24:48-49; Acts 1:6-11). Finally, the witness of the disciples to Jesus, his words, and his deeds is to extend "to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8), and that commission is being realized in the present”[4]through each and every one of us today.

[1]Cousar, Charles B. Texts for Preaching: A Lectionary Commentary, Based on the NRSV. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010. Pg. 139


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