30. LAUNCH OUT INTO THE DEEP
By Felix Ngunjiri Gichuri
When the Crowd Surged Towards Jesus
One day, Jesus was preaching by the Lake of Gennesaret, the Sea of Galilee and when the congregation pressed upon Him to hear the message of God. “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, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. (Luke 5:1-2) KJV)
Jesus then entered the ship that belonged to Simon (Simon was not a poor man as he owned a ship and one wonders how many of us own a boat, let alone a ship) and requested him to draw away a little from the shore so that he could not be crushed by the surging crowd. “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 from the ship.” (Luke 5:3 [KJV])
Then He sat down and continued to teach the crowd of people from the ship (other versions call it boat). When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon (Peter), “Launch out into the deep water and let down your nets into the water for a great catch of fish. 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” (Luke 5:4-6).
Crowds Catch Nothing
Note that as a group of fishermen, Peter said that ‘we have caught nothing the whole night’ but as an individual, Simon Peter told Jesus, ‘I will let down the nets.’ And he decided to obey His Word and launched deeper into the waters. Crowds do not catch anything because they can fight each other over who would receive the spoils and the glory. In the end, it is an individual who goes away with the catch. It takes one bold individual to make a decision, obey individually and receive the blessing individually because God is a personal God, ministering to each according to their individual need. When they agreed with Simon to move into the deeper waters, they managed to catch such a large shoal of fish that their nets were almost breaking. “And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 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. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: 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. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.” (Luke 5:6 -11[KJV])
And when Jesus gets into your ship and shows you where to get a great catch of fish, He is not helping you to get rich in your fishing business. Instead He is introducing you to His ministry of reaching out to the lost and fishing them to Christ so that they get converted and in turn reach others to populate the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus had visited Peter at his place of work and entered into Peter’s ship and started teaching the people out of the ship. When Jesus visits you at your place of work, He will start ministering to your colleagues. After he is through ministering to their needs, He will then minister to you for hosting Him all that long. Jesus knew that they had caught nothing and he told them to move out of the shallow waters and get into the deeper waters. They had been fishing at the shallow waters overnight.
They wanted to continue fishing from the comfort of the shallow waters where it was safe. Those of us who fish at the shallow waters know that they can catch nothing because that is where every fisherman is. That is where the crowds are, where there are no risks of being swept by the waters. Crowds do not want to risk going into the deeper waters. Simon encouraged his fellow fishermen to obey God’s word, cast off their fears and to enter into the deep waters, leaving the crowd at the shore.
Do Not Overstay at That Comfort Zone
You have overstayed at the comfort zone long enough. You have stagnated for a long time. It is time you launched out. “Come out of them and be separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17 [NIV]. Leave your friends and your peers who are dragging you away from your purpose and away from your destiny. Common sense would help one to realize that overstaying at the shallow waters only makes the water murkier. It makes little common sense to overstay at the shallow waters as the place is congested with the milling crowd which might be hosting all manner of people without ruling out idlers and pick pockets.
Shallow waters are comfort zones. There are no risks of drowning. At the shallow waters, you are neither on mainland nor at the sea. It can be likened to being at the middle of the road where you are neither at the left nor at the right. But you will get nothing by overstaying at the middle of the road, or travelling at the middle of the road. It is a high time you decided which side of the road you want to travel along or else you will be crushed therein by those travelling to the right or to the left.
Overstaying at the shallow waters can also be likened to sitting on the fence playing safe and falling over to whichever side wins. Fence sitters are known to be notorious in cheering both teams and eating at both camps. Shallow waters are places of self satisfaction; where there are no worries, no risks but are actually places of stagnation. To overstay at shallow waters would be reducing yourself to being neither here nor there, neither good nor bad, a place of mediocrity, the favourite place for those who call themselves average people. One funny definition by an economist of an average person is that if an average person has one foot on a hot stove and the other foot in a deep freezer, then on the average, we can say he is comfortable. Average people live average lives, get average grades in high school, get average jobs, have average families and plunge into an average end. But God did not create average people.
God created great people who would do wonders because “people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits” (Daniel 11:32)[KJV]. God created hardworking people who do not overstay at the place of lukewarmness but move on to the deeper waters which are clean and fresh. Furthermore there is little competition out there. And that is where they get hold of the big catch of fish for Jesus. But the decision to either stay at the shallow waters and catch nothing or move on to the deeper waters so as to get hold of a great catch of fish is yours. It is your choice.
It is your choice to either love the voice of the creator of the world and obey Him, or listen to the world. He tells you to “love the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” (Deut 30:20)
“You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” (Deut 8:18 [ESV2011])
That is how Jesus introduced Himself to people whose occupation was fishing so that they become fishers of men. Once you have known the Lord, tell others of the good news of the kingdom, and preach the gospel to qualify to be a fisherman for the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus had planned that He would not leave His disciples and followers like orphans but would leave them with another Companion and Helper the Holy Spirit so that they would have the power to continue His work of establishing the Kingdom of God here on earth on His behalf by saving the lost, healing the sick, setting at liberty them that are held in bondage by the evil one and even raising the dead. He expected them to start that assignment in Jerusalem, then go to Judaea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth to preach to all the nations of the earth the good news (gospel) that when one is in Christ, he or she can live a new life of experiencing what is done in heaven. And all these goodies would be available to them who believe not because they deserve but by His mercies and grace (the unmerited favour of God upon us even when we do not deserve) “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of his grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” (Eph 2:4-8 [KJV])
Jesus went further to explain to the disciples that the power He was to give them was to empower them to continue His work of establishing the Kingdom of God here on earth by wrenching it from the hands of the devil by force. After disabling the devil and his demonic agents, the work of witnessing Christ to all nations would be easy. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem (your home), and in all Judaea (immediate neighbours), and in Samaria (those who do not subscribe to your faith), and unto the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) (Acts 1:9-15 [KJV]) Then they waited for the Holy Ghost to come upon them to empower them for that great commission of witnessing Christ to everyone.
The Holy Spirit then Descended on Earth
After waiting for a while, when celebrating the day of Pentecost, the unthinkable happened. “Suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” (Acts 2:2-8). What followed after that was too marvellous for them to imagine. Speaking in tongues, witnessing boldly that Christ rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, baptizing in the name of Jesus Christ to thousands who believed and repented for remission of their sins, having hilarious fellowships with other believers and laying hands on the sick and they would get healed in Jesus’ name. Peter, who had previously been intimidated by a young maid and chickened out then denied knowledge of Jesus Christ, filled with the Holy Ghost, spoke healing in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth to a man, lame from birth, at the gate of the temple called Beautiful. The man left his lifetime mat, leaped to his feet, jumped and bounced with joy on realizing that he had been saved from lameness that had threatened to accompany him to his grave. He could not believe that he had actually been healed and held them and almost refused to let go of Peter and John, fearing that if he let them go, maybe the healing would stop. They then used the healed man as a testimony of the miracle that had happened to preach Christ to the priests and Sadducees. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it” (Acts 4:14).
Power over All the Power of the Enemy
Jesus had to empower them with power from on high so that those Spirit filled Christians would continue His work of destroying all works of the devil in the whole world. He wanted them to be so full of the Holy Spirit of God that He would equip them with “power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt them” (Luke 10:19). Even if they were attacked by serpents, scorpions, diseases, enemies, demons, poverty, disasters and calamities, they would not hurt them because the Holy Spirit anointing would have covered them giving them divine protection. “And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:17-18 [ESV2011])
The Christians so equipped with the power to destroy all works of the devil saw the fulfillment of Christ’s promises upon them at work as they found themselves performing miracles greater than the ones He used to perform: being airlifted from one place to another, healing the sick and raising the dead. The testimony of how Philip was told by the Holy Spirit to go south to Gaza to preach to the Ethiopian and how he was airlifted by the Holy Spirit back to the city of Azotus after baptizing the eunuch drew many to accept Jesus Christ as their personal saviour (Acts 8:26-40). Peter raised to life Dorcas in the name of Jesus (Acts 9:38-39). Dorcas bounced back to life the way a bouncing ball would rebound over obstacles. “And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. None of the rest dared to join them, but the people praised them highly. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.” (Acts 5:12-16 [KJV])
Paul raised Eutychus to life and the young man bounced back to life (Acts 20:9-10). God’s good plan for humanity was to enable those who have God’s anointing rubbed into them to bounce off diseases like the way the Lystran cripple got healed by Paul and leaped to his feet, bouncing and dancing after the healing (Acts 14:8-10). The kingdom of heaven was now firmly established in Judea, Samaria and was being preached in faraway cities on its way to the Gentile world. The mandate for each one of us is to preach the gospel to every creature. “And Jesus said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15) so that people who are sitting in darkness of sin, diseases, curses, condemnation, demon possessed and the ones in bondage may see a great light of the glory and power of God in their lives. Let everyone know that God Himself is calling all and sundry to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of their lives, preach to others locally that Jesus is the Christ, that He is the power of God in our daily lives. Let all of us go out there and preach Christ to the unreached personally and by supporting those missionaries who are going out there in the unreached areas of the world preaching Christ to the nations. The name of Christ is the Greek name for the Hebrew word Messiah. “Andrew first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ” (John 1:41). The word Messiah means the Anointed One or the Anointing. According to the Jewish Encyclopaedia, the word Messiah means to smear on, pour on or rubbed into. “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). The above text illustrates the revelation of Christ’s meaning to the Christians and to the Gentiles. The revelation is that when you have Christ in you, then you have Christ the Lord of Lords and King of Kings rubbed into your flesh and in your body, the healing power, demon crushing King in you to help you destroy all works of the devil on His behalf. When you venture to reach out to every creature preaching Christ, you have launched out into the deep and you will catch a great shoal of fish (men) for the kingdom of heaven.