Deep Waters

early beach morning
Jesus said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. Luke 5:5-6
These two verses are found in the middle of a larger story. Jesus had been standing on the shore of the lake teaching a crowd of people in the early morning hours just as Simon Peter and his crew were ready to haul in after a night of unprofitable fishing. After the large catch of fish, Simon Peter realizes who Jesus is and hears his call to follow him.
But in the middle of this story of a Master Teacher meeting up with a common fisherman, are these two verses around which the rest of the story pivots.
All Simon Peter had ever known was fishing. He was partner in the family business. His father fished. His brothers fished. He’d watched it for as long as he could remember. He knew a good day of fishing meant money to support his family. A bad day of fishing looked like the one he had just completed–a boatful of empty nets. They had worked hard, his brothers and him, never giving up. Throwing their nets into the water over and over again, but with nothing to show for it.
They had to quit. The early morning hours were the worst time to catch fish because of the rising sun reflecting on the water’s surface. They might as well give up and go to shore.
Jesus stops Peter. Peter had heard about this man. Heard about how he went from town to town healing people and talking about heaven. “Put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch,” Jesus requested.
That’s crazy, Peter must have thought. This guy might be a Master Teacher, but he had a few things to learn about fishing. Besides, didn’t he care that Peter was exhausted? Didn’t he realize that people who knew Peter’s family crowded the beach? The last thing Peter wanted was to expose his father’s lack of success.
“Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But, because you say so, I will let down the nets,” Peter answers. I’m tired and ready for some breakfast, Peter says in this answer. But I remember who you say you are, Jesus, and I believe it’s true. So, since you are the one asking, I will do it.
Peter calls the command to the crew: Turn the ship around and start over. Jesus asked for the deep water. This could take a while. One more time, the net is thrown into the sea. Peter leans against the side of the boat and watches as the nets fill until ready to burst.
The same deep water. The same smelly fish. The same old boat. The same worn net. How come things were different this time? Because Jesus had come. He was God in the form of a man. The same God who spoke an entire universe into being. The same God who knew Peter and loved him enough to get in his boat and speak his name.
“Peter,” Jesus calls,” I have a dream for your life. I want you to accomplish the impossible. For me. I know you can do it because I am here. Keep fishing.”
And Peter did. One last time of sinking the nets into the deep. The last time became the first time. Peter spent his whole life fishing, but it wasn’t until Jesus shared the boat with him that he started to catch anything.
Catching God’s vision for his life.
Catching a glimpse of the world through God’s eyes.
Catching the faith that just maybe the impossible wasn’t so far out of his reach after all.
“I’m tired God,” Peter said. I’m worn out and discouraged, God. I don’t understand you. I’m not sure I really want you here in my boat Peter may have thought that day, but because you are asking, I will do it.
Of all the boats available, Jesus chose his. Of all the times for Jesus to show up, he chose the worst. Of all the jobs in the world, Jesus gave him the impossible.
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The Man With the Famous Last Name

Glowing Tomb

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

The story of Lazarus from John 11 is a real picture of Jesus’ power over the grave. Death, suffering, sickness, sorrow, and unbelief all die their own deaths in the face of a story like this one. Perhaps you know the story of Lazarus. He was from Bethany and lived with his two sisters. After falling sick, Lazarus dies. Word reaches Jesus that his friend is gone. Jesus arrives in Bethany after Lazarus’ body had been placed in a tomb. Mary and Martha, sisters of the dead man, meet Jesus on the road. Jesus asks in verse 26 if they believe in him as the resurrection and the life. Each in their own way assure him that they do.

Deeply moved and in tears, Jesus approaches the tomb holding his friend, issues a command to remove the stone blocking the entrance, prays, and tells Lazarus to come out.

Lazarus comes out.

Jesus tells the family standing around to remove the grave clothes and let him go.

In the days following, what was life like for Lazarus? The Bible records no spoken words belonging to Lazarus. We wonder if Lazarus was a common man living an ordinary life. We don’t know much about him except that he was someone else’s brother. He appears in the gospel story, not because of any shining qualities in his personality nor because of any legendary achievements, but only because of the amazing miracle that happened to him.

Later in the narratives, we find Lazarus again. This time, he is in attendance at a dinner where Jesus and his disciples are also present. He is recognized as, “Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead.”

Everyone has a first name. We all go by the names our parents gave us or nicknames we have earned over time. We also have a last name; a surname to identify us as belonging to a certain family, or holding a particular history, or originating from a specific location. Lazarus kept his first name, but Jesus defined his last name. For Lazarus, identity, history, and origin began with Jesus. Now Lazarus’ full name reads, “Lazarus Whom Jesus Raised From the Dead.”

He was still a common person living an ordinary life, but he had an uncommon, extraordinary witness to the power of God. Everything he had been given, all that he was able to accomplish, each relationship he valued was only because of the miracle Jesus had worked in his life.

John 11:26 ends with the words, “Do you believe this?” Jesus is asking the sisters if they believe in him as the only one who holds the power over death and suffering.

Jesus asks us, “Do you believe this?” Can you stand with Martha and say, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world” (verse 27). Because of this answer, Martha was about to witness the power of God. She, too, qualified for a famous last name. Maybe hers would read something like, “Martha Who Saw Death Defeated.”

Have you witnessed the power of God either in your own life or in the life of someone close to you? Have you seen prayers answered, diseases healed, lives saved, or hearts changed? If you can answer yes, then perhaps Jesus is waiting to give you a famous last name.

The Light of the World

clouds

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8:12

Have you ever been caught in a storm and the electricity goes off, or have you been on a walk after dark and the battery in the flashlight quits? Jesus declared the words in the verse above for those times when we need a dependable source of light.

This verse starts with the words, “I am.” This is the same name God gives himself when he speaks to Moses in the wilderness. “Tell them I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14). God wants Moses to tell the Israelites that he is the unchanging, covenant-making, promise-keeping God of their fathers. He can be counted on to remain faithful. He alone possesses divine glory. Power is reserved for him alone.

Jesus is making the same statement. I am God’s Son, the Christ whom you have been waiting for. Everything God has proven true about himself is also true for me.

John tells us in the first chapter that life is found in Jesus, and that life is light What does he mean? Jesus is the source of light. He is the one whose energy and power and love never run out. Anything outside of Jesus is darkness. Light is found only in him.

Jesus’ followers are rescued from the destruction that comes in darkness. Light gives life in place of the darkness of death. Anyone who believes in Jesus has the light. They are saved for eternal life.

Those who possess the light are his bright flame to the world. In Matthew 5:16, believers in Jesus are called to let their lights shine before others. We who believe in him are illuminated with his truth and power, glowing with the good news of his message to every culture.

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).