I want you to think back and remember how you came to faith in Christ:
- How did God get your attention?
- How did you view yourself when you first saw Christ for who he really is?
- What did you turn away from to follow him?
Each of us come to Christ in different ways. Some of us were saved with our mother’s kneeling beside us at bedtime. Others in a church. Some of us take an intellectual route—studying the evidence before coming to the life shattering conclusion that Jesus is real.
But there are common elements in all our testimonies. Somehow God interrupts us and gets our attention. We see ourselves humbled as sinners in the holy light of Jesus. We are changed as we forsake our sin and old lifestyle to follow Jesus.
We see these things in life of Peter here in Luke 5. First we see Peter…
INTERRUPTED BY CHRIST (5:1-3)
Luke 5:1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret [another name for the Sea of Galilee],
Luke 5:2 And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.
Jesus was preaching “the word of God” near the Sea of Galilee. The crowds were great and were eager to hear him preach, but they were also overwhelming him. He must have found it difficult to preach with them so close, but he saw “two ships standing by the lake.”
These boats, we’ve discovered one back in the 1980’s, were about 30 feet long and 8 feet wide. They had shallow drafts that enabled them to come close to shore and fish.
This kind of boat, off a ways in the water, would make a great pulpit!
The “fishermen” had been fishing all night (verse 5) because the fish would feed near the surface during the cooler hours of the night, and retreat to the depths during the day. When you fish with nets, you want the fish close to the surface.
The nets varied greatly in size, perhaps these were 50 or a 100 feet in diameter, with weights around the edge. The fishermen would throw them out, let the fish get caught, and then pull the full nets back into the boat.
Those nets would have been heavy, so it was hard, backbreaking work. Fishermen would have been very muscular men.
In the morning, they would come ashore and wash and repair the nets in preparation for the next night’s work. This is what they were doing when Jesus approached. They were about to go home to go to bed.
But then there is the interruption: Jesus, seeing an opportunity to escape the crowding of the crowds, went and got into one of the boats—
Luke 5:3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.
This is how Jesus starts calling Peter to follow him. He simply gets into Peter’s boat and and asks him to push off from the shore a bit.
Peter, you can imagine, was tired and ready for bed, but undoubtedly he knows something about this Jesus, so he complies.
God does not silently wait for us to come to him. He steps into our lives and interrupts our routine. You might say that he steps into our boat and asks us to go a little ways out.
Maybe you were saved when a friend asked you to go to church with them. You planned on sleeping until Noon on Sunday, but you knew something about this Jesus, and you liked this friend, so you complied. God interrupted and said, “Would you push out a little ways with me?”
How did Christ interrupt your life when you were saved?
For some, like the apostle Paul, it’s a big interruption—he was blinded while on the road to Damascus to persecute Christians.
Martin Luther had an intense guilt and desperately wanted forgiveness. He annoyed the priest that he went to for confession because he went to him so often and about every little sin. Then Romans 1:17 suddenly made sense to him.
Lee Strobel, the subject of the new movie out, The Case For Christ, was interrupted when his wife became a Christian and he wanted to disprove Christ and show his wife that Christianity was just a cult.
How did Christ interrupt your life when you were saved? Has Christ interrupted your life? Has he been trying to get your attention?
Peter was not yet a follower of Jesus Christ. He had to have faith in Christ. And to have faith in Christ, he needed to be…
HUMBLED BEFORE CHRIST (5:4-10a)
1. The Overwhelming Catch
Luke 5:4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.
Luke 5:5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.
Peter was a bit reluctant about responding to Jesus’s request, after all, he should know about fishing. But he does do Jesus’s bidding.
Notice what he says, “nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.” Peter’s compliance is based on the word of Jesus. That is faith.
He doesn’t have any physical evidence that Jesus is correct. In fact, his experience tells him that Jesus would be wrong. But faith is believing in God’s word. Faith is responding to God’s word.
17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)
Becoming a Christian is not something that happens because you were born into a Christian family or because you started attending church.
Becoming a Christian happens when your soul is tested about who Jesus is. Is he for real? Does he know what he is talking about? Can you trust him with your life?
Peter steps out in faith and lets out the nets—
Luke 5:6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.
Luke 5:7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.
This is an amazing catch, perhaps the most that Peter had ever seen in all his years as a fishermen.
This is a 200 bushel an acre wheat crop. This is twins from every cow and a less than 1 percent fatality rate.
This is success in Peter’s life work. Keep that in mind, we’ll come back to it. This was an overwhelming catch.
2. The Overwhelming Presence
Luke 5:8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
Luke 5:9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:
Peter sees all these fish, more than he’s ever seen before in his life, and what does he do? He drops to his knees before the Lord.
I think that Peter recognizes that Jesus is God and not merely a good teacher. Here’s why I think that:
1) Peter brings up his sin. If Jesus was a great teacher and that’s all, why would Peter bring up his sin at this point?
Furthermore, Peter tells Jesus to depart from him because he is sinful. Why would he tell Jesus that if he thought he was only a good teacher?
Peter’s awareness of his sin is so powerful that he asks Jesus to depart from him because he knows that he isn’t worthy of Jesus!
It’s the same kind of response that Isaiah had when he encountered God—
5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. (Isaiah 6:5)
God is utter holiness and purity:
13 Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, And canst not look on iniquity…(Habakkuk 1:13)
Peter and Isaiah recognized that they had no business being in the presence of such holiness. They were humbled by God’s overwhelming presence. They realized that “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Unbelievers don’t see this. They constantly challenge God as being unfair, unjust, or too strict. They think that they and God are on the same level.
The believer, however, falls to his knees and is humbled by his or her sinfulness before God.
2) The second reason why I think that Peter recognizes Jesus is God because he calls him “Lord.”
Notice that in Luke 5:5, Peter called Jesus “Master.” This word, ἐπιστάτης, is used of people in leadership. In the Bible, this word only appears a few times, used mainly by Luke. It doesn’t seem to have any divine connotation to it whatsoever. In verse five, Peter recognized Jesus as an important person, a leader.
But in Luke 5:8, he calls him “Lord.” This word, κύριος, is much more common in the New Testament (used over 700 times)—it’s often a generic title given to people like we would say “sir” today. Usually, you find these references with a lowercase “l” in the Bible.
By far, most of the references in the New Testament are references to God. When Peter calls Jesus “O Lord,” he isn’t saying, “Sir” or “Master” or “Good Teacher,” he is saying, “O God!”
3. The Overwhelming Invitation
Luke 5:10 And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.
Jesus calls Peter to “Fear not.” What was Peter afraid of? It has to do with his sin and being in the presence of holiness. He knew being in the presence of such holiness would destroy him.
This is Jesus inviting Peter to be saved. Peter’s fear is connected with his sinfulness. He knows that he is not worthy of Jesus. “Fear not” is a way of saying, “You can be forgiven, you don’t have to be afraid of my presence.”
You can have peace with God. You can know that you will not be destroyed by his presence:
1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Romans 5:1)
So here we see the basic requirements for coming to faith in Jesus.
First, we need to admit that we are sinful and rebellious, unworthy to be before God.
Second, we need to admit that Jesus is God. We need to be able to confess him as Lord—
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9)
Third, we need to trust him in order to have peace with God so that we can “fear not” his presence.
Faith begins when we are interrupted by Christ, and then humbled before Christ in that we see our sin and see Christ as the Son of God.
But that is not all. Faith makes us…
CHANGED BY CHRIST (5:10b-11)
1. Faith Works
True faith will result in changes in a person’s life. The apostle James points out, faith without works really isn’t faith—
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? (James 2:17–21)
You see what he’s saying there? If God had asked Abraham, “Do you have faith in me? Would you sacrifice Isaac for me?” and Abraham had said, “Yes, Lord, I have faith in you and if you asked, I would sacrifice Isaac for you” would that be faith?
No, according to James, it would not be real faith. God did ask! And Abraham, in response, got up and went to Mount Moriah, laid Isaac on the altar, raised the knife in the air, and only stayed his hand when an angel called to him to stop!
In the same way, Peter’s confession of his sin and of Jesus being God would have been nothing unless there was some response of faith on his part. And that is exactly what happened—
2. Faith Declares Itself
Luke 5:10b And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.
Jesus calls Peter to “catch men.” If “fear not” is the invitation to salvation, “catch men” is the invitation to spread that salvation to others.
Salvation is never met to be a solo affair. Faith is not to be a private or personal matter, something that you just keep to yourself and not share with anyone.
We are not saved merely to exist until we die and go to Heaven. We are called to be witnesses of the one that saved us. We are called to be fishers of men (Matthew 28:18-20).
Our faith, if it is real, will declare itself to others. We will “confess with our mouth, the Lord Jesus.”
3. Faith Forsakes All To Follow
Luke 5:11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.
They “forsook all” and they “followed him.”
Go back to that catch they just brought in. It had to been the largest catch they had ever pulled in. It was a taste of the worldly success that they could have had.
You can almost see them saying to one another, “What if we could pull this much in every day?”
Instead, they throw it all aside and follow Jesus. Why? Because Jesus is the treasure that is worth dropping everything to follow.
Put it this way: their idea of what was valuable in life suddenly changed. This isn’t saying that every person who becomes a Christian needs to quit their job and become a missionary somewhere.
But every person who becomes a Christian makes Jesus to be their treasure. They have a change of mind about what is valuable in life.
Jesus taught that those following him must change who they serve.
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24)
Real faith will change you. It will cause you to forsake what was once important to you and to follow Christ instead. It will cause you to align your values with Jesus’s values.
In 1999, Rosaria [ROSE-ZAR-EEAH] Butterfield was a English professor at Syracuse University, a skeptic of all things Christianity, and in a committed lesbian relationship.
The way that God interrupted her life was that she got involved in a research program with the goal of disproving the religious right and their view of homosexuality.
Her research involved reading the Bible looking for things to use against Christians. She actually read the Bible through several times (sadly, more than many Christians). One of her transgendered friends warned her, “This Bible reading is changing you, Rosaria.”
On the fourth time all the way through, she says that something started to happen: “The Bible got to be bigger inside me than I. And it absolutely overflowed into my world. I really fought against it.”
Another interruption that God used was a letter from a pastor in response to an anti-Christian article that she had written. She says that…
It was a kind and inquiring letter. Ken Smith encouraged me to explore the kind of questions I admire: How did you arrive
at your interpretations? How do you know you are right? Do you believe in God?
Ken didn’t argue with my article; rather, he asked me to defend the presuppositions that undergirded it. I didn’t know how to respond to it, so I threw it away.
Later that night, I fished it out of the recycling bin and put it back on my desk, where it stared at me for a week, confronting me with the worldview divide that demanded a response.
Ken and his wife became friends with her. They talked and exchanged books and, when they had lunches together, Ken prayed in a way that she had never heard before:
His prayers were intimate. Vulnerable. He repented of his sin in front of me. He thanked God for all things. Ken’s God was holy and firm, yet full of mercy.
Then, one Sunday morning, she finally went to Ken’s church. She heard the word of God in a way that challenged her. She had been demanding that God show her why homosexuality was wrong, but the verse Ken preached from, John 7:17, promised understanding after obedience.
17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (John 7:17)
She was humbled. She realized that she couldn’t come to God on her terms. She would have to come on his terms and trust him to help her understand after she came to him. She says,
Then, one ordinary day, I came to Jesus, openhanded and naked…Jesus triumphed. And I was a broken mess. Conversion was a train wreck. I did not want to lose everything that I loved. But the voice of God sang a sanguine love song in the rubble of my world.
She was interrupted by God, humbled by God, and changed by God…she forsook her lesbian lover, her liberal university professorship, the worldview she once held dear.
Her life had to come crashing down around her before God could build it back up again (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/january-february/my-train-wreck-conversion.html.)
How about you? Have you been interrupted by God? Have you been humbled before his holy presence? Have you been changed?