This post is part of a 9-part series called Extraordinary Pastor, Ordinary Follower of Jesus. You can watch the introduction video here.
Part 4 – Jesus Looks for a Bias Toward Obedience
And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” – Luke 5:4-5
Jesus will progressively ask more and more from Peter as the passage goes on. He began with requesting the use of Peter’s boat and he obeyed. Now Jesus moves to a fishing request that makes no sense. He asked him to throw the drying nets back into the boat and head out to sea for another go-round.
There were at least three good reasons Peter shouldn’t have listened to Jesus.
- Peter wasn’t in the mood to obey. He had been awake fishing all night and had just cleaned all the seaweed off his nets. Peter was tired. He knew there were no fish out there to be caught. They were all packed up and ready to go to bed. Not only him, but Peter’s whole crew had to be re-mobilized and inspired to go back out.
- This was a carpenter telling a fisherman how to fish. It would be like a musician telling an accountant how to do his personal finances. Or like a metal worker telling a doctor where to make the incision. Or like a husband telling his wife… well … anything! Peter probably looked at Jesus and said, “If this had anything to do with wood I’d defer to you, but this is a fishing thing. This is my department, you should stick to your own skill set!”
- The conditions for fishing weren’t right. During the day all the fish descended to the bottom of the sea. It’s why commercial crews fished at night. The heavy drag net that they used would certainly not be able to go deep enough to get the fish. These guys had already fished all night at prime time and caught nothing. It was even more impossible now. But Jesus makes his living in the impossible.
Peter could have reacted to Jesus in any number of ways. He could have ignored him, he could have been angry, he could have had a I’ve-been-awake-all-night-and-I-can’t-deal-with-this-right-now emotional breakdown. How do you respond when Jesus makes seemingly outrageous demands? Spend Saturday morning serving others? Forgive the idiot who did that to me? Give away a portion of my income that I worked so hard to acquire?
But true disciples respond with a bias toward obedience. There are a couple of markers of true obedience.
- Marker 1- Obedience recognizes Jesus’ authority. Notice that Peter addressed Jesus as “master.” Even though they weren’t very well acquainted, Peter recognized that Jesus was the one with the authority in the relationship. Jesus was calling the shots now. Obedience is the love language of God. Jesus would say elsewhere, “If you love me, you’ll obey what I command.” (John 14:15) Do you want to demonstrate to God that you love him? Don’t just sing to Him, don’t just read about Him, don’t just listen to sermons about Him, OBEY Him!
- Marker 2- Obedience kicks in even when it doesn’t “feel” right. I love that phrase, “but at your word I will let down the nets.” In the NIV translation Peter says, “because you say so…” This is such a great lesson in obedience. Peter must have been thinking, “Everything inside me is saying I don’t think this is right. I’m sure you’re wrong Lord. This is my area of expertise.” And we say things like, “This is my company, this is my family, this is my relationship, this is my problem, this is my purchase, this is my decision,” but because you say so I will obey…
Jesus is looking for a bias toward obedience in his followers. Peter obviously passed the test.