|Nets | Fill the Nets|
|June 30, 2012|
Nets: Week 3
This is the last message in our three-week series called Nets. In this series, we’re exploring the mission and vision that God has laid on our church. Part of that vision and mission is the relocation of our church. We are moving our services to the Holiday Inn in Eastgate starting on November 25. That’s the first step toward buying or building the new permanent facility that we believe God has in store for us.
Today is going to be such a cool day because as soon as we’re done here, we’re all going to head over to the Holiday Inn for a tour. You’ll get to see our space. It may not be set up exactly as it will be for our services, but you’ll definitely be able to see what it’s going to be like. You’ll get to see the rooms that we’ll use for our nursery and children’s ministry. And most importantly, you’ll get to just be there which will allow you to start getting the feel for what God is going to do there. Every time I’m there, I get more and more excited. There’s just something about being there and seeing it with your own eyes. So I really hope you will be joining us.
We’re really not going to hang around long in this building today. That’s not normal for us. A lot of times, people will hang out and talk for 30-45 minutes after church. You can still do that, but you can do it at the Holiday Inn. The tour will be very brief. If you have some questions, please hang out and ask us after we all pray over our space. After we pray, everyone will be dismissed. That will allow parents who have hungry kids to go get them fed. But if you have questions, come to us. Some of our leaders and I will be hanging around and we’ll be ready to talk with you.
Now, let’s get on to the last message in this series. We’re looking at the time when Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow him. They were all fishermen, and Jesus told them all to follow Him and He would teach them to fish for people…to cast their nets in order to reach people with the gospel.
We’ve been in Matthew 4 in this series. Today we’re going to move over to Luke 5. Luke tells us about the same scene that Matthew does, but he gives us a lot more detail. We’re going to use Luke’s account of this story as we bring this series to a close.
In Luke 5, starting in verse 1, the Bible says, “One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret [which is another name for the Sea of Galilee], the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he 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. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” (Luke 5:1-11, NIV)
In this series, God has challenged us to prepare the nets. He has challenged us to cast the nets. And now today, His call is this: fill the nets.
In a 2010 study, the Association of Religious Data Archives listed different categories of religious affiliation in Clermont County. According to that study, 64% of Clermont County residents claim no religious affiliation at all.
64%. Right here. In Clermont County. In the buckle of the Bible Belt. 64% of people claim no religious affiliation at all. And the religious affiliation of the remaining 36% is about as sweeping and broad as it could possibly be.
But this isn’t math class. You didn’t come here to learn about percentages. Here’s the point…the waters are teeming for a catch. We are just not okay with this many people in our community who don’t either don’t know Jesus, or have been so burned by the church in the past that they just walked away entirely. We’re not okay with almost 2/3 of our community fitting in to that category (and truthfully, it’s even more than that). We’re not okay with that, and we’re going to do something about that.
Look at a couple of things that Jesus said. In Luke 5:31-32, the Bible says, “Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32, NIV)
And later on in Luke 19, Jesus gives us His mission statement. He said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10, NIV)
This is why Jesus came. This was His singular mission. To bring healing to the sick. To rescue the lost. That’s why He came. That’s why He died. That’s why He rose from the dead. And now, He has handed that mission over to His church.
If the church is not about this, the church is not about anything. The church can be busy doing a lot of good things, but if the church isn’t doing this, the church isn’t doing anything. This is the mission. This is the call. And this is why we’re taking the bold step of relocating. The waters are teeming. The catch is waiting. And we’re going to fill our nets.
Let’s go back to our story and just walk through it step by step. There is so much here, so we’re going to slow down and really unpack it all.
The story starts like this. “One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God.” (Luke 5:1, NIV)
Jesus’ public ministry was about a year old at this point, and everywhere He want, people crowded around Him. They all pressed in, wanting to hear what He said. They were desperate for the truth. They wanted to hear from the Lord.
Before Jesus was born, there was a 400 year period of silence from God. There was a 400 year period between the Old and New Testaments. There were no prophets speaking the words of God. There was no Scripture being written. There was only the promise that someday, God would send the One. The Deliverer. The Messiah. The Savior. For hundreds of years, this promise was the only thing that people could hang onto. They were living in darkness and in silence, and they were hungry for hope.
The prophet Isaiah foretold what it would be like when Jesus finally came. He said, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9:2, NIV)
The people were in darkness for hundreds of years. They were hungry for hope. And Jesus was the light that broke through the darkness. He was the hope they hungered for.
This mirrors where people find themselves today. People are hungry for hope. Everyday they are living in darkness and silence. They are hurting. They are broken. They are searching for hope, but a lot of the time they are searching in the wrong places.
And we get that. We get that because we’ve been there. This isn’t an us-versus-them thing. This is a “we get it because we’ve been there” thing.
We know what it’s like to be broken. To be lost. To be hungry for hope, and yet find nothing but dead end road after dead end road after dead end road. And then, someone introduced us to Jesus. That didn’t automatically make our lives perfect. It some ways, things became even more difficult. But all of that was trumped by hope. By peace. By life. By Jesus.
There’s an old quote from D.T. Niles that is so true. “Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.”
You know why we’re moving to the Holiday Inn? Because we are beggars who have found bread, and we want to share that news as far and wide as we possibly can.
People are hungry. In fact, they are starving. The bread is baking. And we’re all about sharing.
Next verse in our story. “[Jesus] saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.” (Luke 5:2-3, NIV)
Jesus needed a better platform to speak to the people. They were crowding all around him. People in the back couldn’t really see or hear Him. So He found a boat, put out a little ways from shore, and used that boat as His pulpit.
If Jesus can use a boat as His pulpit and a beach as His church, why in the world couldn’t He use a hotel? If He could preach from a boat, why can’t He preach in a ballroom? If people could experience Him and be changed by Him by a lake, why can’t that happen in conference center? It can…and it will.
And here’s why it will…Jesus uses ordinary things for extraordinary purposes.
These were just ordinary fishing boats. There was not a more common sight at the Sea of Galilee than a fishing boat. Any direction you turned, this is what you would see. Fishing boats. Fishing boats. And more fishing boats.
But when Jesus looked at this fishing boat, He saw a pulpit. He looked at the water and the beach and He saw a church. He looked at this very commonplace, ordinary thing, and He saw it as a vehicle to accomplish an extraordinary purpose.
You know what? Hotels are a common thing in our culture. They’re everywhere. Hotel conference centers are an ordinary thing. We’ve all been to them. Some are nice. Some are not as nice. The one we’re looking at is really nice, but that doesn’t change that fact that it’s a common occurrence.
But Jesus uses ordinary things for extraordinary purposes. When you walk in that place this afternoon, you’re not just walking into a hotel. You’re walking into a church. You’re walking into a place where healing and rescue and salvation are going to happen. You’re walking into an ordinary place where Jesus is going to do extraordinary things.
Next verse. “When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon [whom Jesus would later call “Peter”], “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” (Luke 5:4, NIV)
The Sea of Galilee was known for sudden squalls and storms. This lake was encompassed by mountains to the east and to the west. The fact that this lake was located so low below these mountain ranges made it prime for violent downdrafts and storms.
If you were in the shallows, you were safe because you could easily make it to shore. The danger lied out on the deep. But the deep is also where the fish were.
Jesus calls us to go deep. The shallows are safer. The shallows are definitely more comfortable and convenient and easy and sure. But the shallows aren’t where the fish are. The fish are in the deep. And if we’re going to fill our nets, it will require us to go all in. We’ve got to go deep.
The safer thing to do would be to stand pat. To stay where we are and to keep doing what we’re doing. But last week talked about the ceiling we keep smacking against. We are capped, and with 2/3 or more of our county having no relationship with Jesus at all, we’re not willing to stay capped. We’re not willing to accept a ceiling. We’re going into the deep so we can bust through that ceiling. We’re going to the deep because that’s where the fish are. And we are going to fill our nets. We are going to change the eternity of a whole lot of people.
But to get there, we are going deep. We are taking a risk. And we’re doing some things that don’t make sense to some people.
Look at the next verses of our story. “When he had finished speaking, he 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.” (Luke 5:4-5, NIV)
Simon Peter was a professional fishermen. If there was anything that Peter knew, it was fishing. He and his crew had fished all night and caught nothing. Casting out the nets was pointless. Actually, let’s just be blunt…it was just flat out stupid. It made absolutely no sense. Peter had been a fisherman his whole life. Jesus grew up as the son of a carpenter. Of the two, who’s going to know more about catching fish?
But Peter obeyed anyway. It defied logic. It went against what he knew, and maybe even what his crew was telling him. But he obeyed anyway. And the key is found in how Peter addressed Jesus.
He called Jesus, “Master.” And when Jesus is your master, that changes everything. When Jesus is your master, you will follow Him anywhere. You’ll do anything that He asks of you, even if it seems illogical or even crazy to you.
Peter told Jesus, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” (Luke 5:5, NIV)
Master, I don’t understand this. We’ve worked hard all night and there are no fish here. What you’re asking me to do doesn’t make sense. The people in my own boat might think I’m crazy, but because you are the One who told me to do it, I will. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’ve got a lot of doubts, but You are my master. Because you say so, I will let down the nets. Not because I think I’ll be successful, but simply because I want to be faithful.
And being faithful means it won’t always make sense. Being faithful means we obey Jesus when it seems improbable…or even impossible.
Let’s just be as honest as we can about this move. There will be people who think we’ve lost our mind. There will be those who will criticize and condemn us. There will be those who will take their shots at us. You may experience this with your friends and your family. They may tell you how stupid this is. They may tell you that it will never work. They may say all kinds of things against this bold move that we’re taking.
We know that some people won’t get it. Some people will misconstrue our motives. They will judge us without knowing us. They will interpret what they believe is in our heart rather than what is actually in our heart.
But the ultimate question is will Jesus be pleased with this move? Not will every person I know be pleased with this move? Will Jesus be pleased with this move? Will He be pleased with our willingness to abandon the shallows and head for the deep? Will He be pleased with our faithfulness, even when it all doesn’t make sense?
Craig Groeschel said, “To reach people no one else is reaching, you have to do things no one else is doing.”
In other words, you have to go to the deep. You have to enter uncharted, uncertain territory. You have to go all in, even when it doesn’t all make sense.
I don’t know any other church around here who is doing what we’re doing. Some would say, “That means it’s foolish. If no one else is doing it, you shouldn’t either.”
But what some would deem foolish, Jesus would deem faithful. And here’s what happens when we are faithful: the nets fill up.
Look at what happened next in our story. Jesus told Peter to cast the nets. Peter said, “We’ve fished all night and caught nothing, but because you are my Master…because you are the One who told me to do this…I’ll do it. I will let down the nets.”
Verses 6-7. “When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.” (Luke 5:6-7, NIV)
The command was so illogical. The whole thing seemed foolish. But Peter chose to obey, and this is what happened. His nets were filled past the breaking point.
This is how Jesus operates. It won’t always make sense, but faithfulness will fill the nets.
I can’t tell you how humbled I am to be part of a church that is willing to go to the deep and fill the nets. I know how hard this is. I know how long we’ve been here in this location. I know how familiar and comfortable this is. I know all of that very, very well. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous when this series began. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious about presenting this vision and talking about this move. In fact, the night before this series began, I was sitting on the couch with my wife. I was trying to get my mind off of things by watching a Reds game, but it wasn’t working. I couldn’t sit still. Nicki finally looked at me and said, “You’re about to combust right now, aren’t you?”
I was. I was about to bust. I was excited and scared and nervous and a whole lot of other things.
But over the last three weeks, I’ve been reminded what kind of church that God has allowed me to serve. I’ve been reminded that the people of our church really do care deeply about the mission. I’ve been reminded that the people of our church really do want to make heaven more crowded. And I’ve been reminded that the people of our church are willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen.
It’s going to be tough. Things always get tough when the nets start filling up.
Look at what happened again. “When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.” (Luke 5:6-7, NIV)
This was awesome. This was amazing. This was also a lot of work.
Full nets create more work. The crew in Peter’s boat couldn’t handle it. They had to call in their partners in the other boat.
We talked a few weeks ago about how we’re all partners and how it’s going to take all of us to make this happen.
This is going to be a lot of work. We’re moving from our own building to a location where we will move in and out every Sunday. None of our stuff will get moved in and out by magic. It will be moved in and out by us.
Now, we are looking at purchasing our entire portable system from a company called Portable Church Industries. They specialize in custom designing systems for portable churches. Everything from sound and video, to equipment for the nursery, and everything in between. And it’s designed so it is as smooth and easy as it can be. The whole reason we’re looking to use this company is because they know way more about this than we do. This is what they do.
But at the same time, it’s still going to require teams of people to move us in and out every week. It’s going to take some work. But when nets fill up, it always takes more work.
And something else to notice in our story. Full nets don’t just create more work. They also create more problems. I said last week that dry nets are much easier than wet nets. Wet nets are a lot messier. It takes more work when the nets are wet. And then, when the nets fill up, it creates more problems.
In our story, Jesus filled the nets beyond their capacity. The nets actually began to break. And then when they hauled the catch into the boats, the boats began to sink.
In case you’re not really into fishing, let me point out something to you…this is a problem! When your nets break, you’ve got a problem. When your boat sinks, you’ve got a problem.
These problems weren’t present until the nets filled up. Full nets create more problems.
The more people who come into our church, the more problems we will have. When people come, they bring their baggage with them. They bring their addictions and their attitudes and their abuse with them. They bring their past and their present with them. They bring their questions and their doubts with them. They bring their hostilities and their anger with them. They bring their sin with them. And when they do, things get messy.
One reason that some churches choose not to fill the nets is because of the problems that full nets create. But along with the problems come possibilities. We have the real possibility of impacting this person with the gospel. We have the real possibility of changing their entire family. We have the real possibility of a shift in eternity happening right in front of us.
This is so humbling to be a part of. Peter recognized this.
Look at the next verses. “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.” (Luke 5:8-10a, NIV)
Peter was so humbled to see what Jesus had done. He knew he was not worthy to be part of this. And neither are we. We are not worthy of the mission. And we are not capable of the call. But that’s why Jesus told Peter, and us, this…
“Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” (Luke 5:10b-11, NIV)
And there it is. You want to know why this move is happening? You want to know the reason behind it all? It’s right here.
Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid.” We can make this move with no fear, not because we are that good, but because He is that good. We can move forward in confidence, because Jesus is the one who blesses. Jesus is the one who does the work that we cannot do. Jesus is the one who fills the nets.
He tells us, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people. Go. Fill the nets.”
As we wrap up this series, as we get ready to head out and see our new worship space, I want to leave us with this. It’s another story about filling the nets. This story happened after Jesus died and rose from the dead. It’s in John 21.
The Bible says, “Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.” (John 21:4-6, NIV)
They were throwing their net on the left side of the boat and catching nothing. Jesus said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat.” When they did, they couldn’t even haul the net in because it was so full.
Sometimes to fill the nets, you’ve got to move the nets.
And that’s what this is all about. It’s not about us It’s all about filling the nets. It’s all about reaching people who might not even come through the door of a church building, but they will walk in the Holiday Inn. It’s about going deep and trusting that the Lord will fill the nets.
This story in John happened after Jesus had died and rose again. And that’s why we’re going. Because that’s the story we have to tell.
There are people to rescue. There are nets to fill. Let’s go!
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