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Abundance for the Harvest

Fishers of People
Fishers of People
From now on, you’ll be fishing for people!

By : Caleb Camp

In Luke chapter 5 we are treated to some foundational Kingdom perspectives that should serve as fuel for The Church to engage the nations.

Luke 5:1-3 NLT – “1One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.”

Jesus is standing on the shores of Galilee, casting the net of the Good News.  How do we know that it was good news?  Because it says that people were “pressed in on him to listen to the word of God”.  People don’t usually press in to hear bad news, now do they?  At any rate, there is a great crowd of people gathered to hear what Jesus has to say.  One thing that Jesus was really good at, was noticing what was going on around him.  Even while preaching the Good News, he noticed the empty boats and got into one of them so that he could continue preaching, but more effectively.

Luke 5:4 NLT -“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.””

With Simon on the boat with him, Jesus turns his attention from the crowd and hones in on him.  Jesus saw the empty boats and he saw the nets being cleaned.  Conclusion: Jesus knew Simon hadn’t caught any fish, but he wanted to communicate something to him so he used things that would get Simon’s attention.  Jesus knew how to speak Simon’s language, what would speak to his heart.  The same is true for you and me: Jesus knows how to speak our language!  “Simon, let’s go fishing!”

Luke 5:5-7 NLT – ““Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.”

Simon’s response is revealing….”Master, I fished all night and didn’t catch a thing!  Zero, zilch nada!  I’m tired and ready for bed.”  This word for “master” in the Greek is unique to this passage of scripture and it means, “commander”, “leader” and “boss”.  Simon had already seen Jesus heal his mother-in-law in chapter 4, but had not yet been called as one of his disciples.  Simon referred to him as “boss”.  “I fished all night and it was a waste of time, but if you say so boss, I’ll try again.”  Simon seems to not have much confidence that anything will happen and he certainly has no clue that he’s about to pull in the biggest catch of his life!  But even with doubt and weariness, and with an incomplete picture of who Jesus is, he obeys.

The result of his obedience is amazing.  So many fish that his nets start to break!  So many fish that he has to call for help!  So many fish that both boats are on the verge of sinking!  Obedience leads to abundance; and the abundance is always for the harvest!  When Simon obeyed, even when he probably didn’t want to, the result was the biggest catch he’d ever seen!  He went from having to go home empty handed, to having to potentially explain that he caught some many fish the boat sank.  Not only his boat, but his partner’s too!  The abundance was so great, it almost sank the whole operation!  And it didn’t go unnoticed.

Luke 5:8-10 NLT – “When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. 10 His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.  Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!””

The joy of catching fish is quickly eclipsed by the realization of what just happened.  Instead of making plans for the money that would surely come from such a great catch, Simon falls to his knees as he realizes how sinful he is and how holy Jesus is!  That boat trip started with Jesus as boss, and it finished with Jesus as Lord!!!

Jesus started by preaching the Good News, and he followed with a display of God’s power with a miracle.  There is a partnership between the bold, authoritative proclamation of the Good News and the powerful manifestation of God’s glory through miracles, signs and wonders.  This is the model of Jesus throughout the New Testament.  He speaks truth with authority and people are amazed!  He performs miracle and people are amazed! The combined work of both of them results in the realization of the Glory of God and our need for a savior.  This is God’s design; to be magnified through His followers so that people see their need for Good News and make Jesus Lord!

1 Thessalonians 1:5 NLT – “For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you.”

“Not only with words but also with power.”  This is the model!  This is the means by which Jesus intended the Great Commission to be carried out!  Go out, proclaim the Good News, and through the power of Holy Spirit alert people to my Glory and their sinfulness and show them how to make Jesus Lord!  Realizing who Jesus is leaves us awestruck and even afraid.  Reverent fear is the natural response to seeing the glory of God, and the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom!  You see this over and over again throughout scripture when angels show up, or Jesus cast out demons or heals people…there is a fear response.  But it’s good fear!

But God doesn’t want us to stay there!  He wants that reverent fear to push to our knees in repentance, so that he can pull us to our feet in partnership with Him!  Simon fell to his knees and Jesus went from Boss to Lord.  Then Jesus told him to get up, “Don’t be afraid!”  Why?  Because now that he understood, he had a mission for him.  “From now on you’ll be fishing for people!”  Jesus basically says, “If you think this catch is something…just wait.  What we’re about to do is literally going to change the world and have ripple effects for generations.  This catch is pretty spectacular, but from now on, we’re fishing for something else…something far more valuable…we’re fishing for people!

It’s the same thing Jesus tells the disciples in John 4 when they come back from town to find him talking with a Samaritan woman.  They can’t understand why Jesus isn’t hungry, because they haven’t yet learned to pay attention to their surroundings and see beyond the physical.  They were focused on food, but not Jesus.  He told his disciples to, “wake up” and see what’s going on around you!

John 4:35-38 NLT – “35 You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. 36 The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! 37 You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. 38 I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.””

Jesus says, “There are people to fish for!  Wake up!  Look around and pay attention!  There is a harvest!  There is a catch waiting to be had!”

Luke 5:8-10 NLT – “11 And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.”

Now we can see the difference between having a job and having a mission.  The moment they got back to shore, they left everything and followed Jesus.  It doesn’t say that they left some things, or even that they left most things, but that they left “everything”.  This means they left their boats, their nets and the most magnificent catch they’d ever seen!  They didn’t take the abundance and get fat and happy with it.  Instead they left the abundance and exchanged it for more!

Are you ready to go fishing?  It’s what we’ve been called to and it’s time to step up in obedience, utilize the abundance, and reap the joy of the harvest!