Context; August 23, 2021


Luke 5:5 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.”

This wasn’t Peter’s first encounter with Jesus. John records the first time, when Peter’s brother Andrew brought him to Jesus. (John 1:40-42) Sometimes we forget that the Bible doesn’t record everything that happened, even in a particular narrative. As we all do, those who wrote picked and chose what they would include, because having every detail would be ponderous and overwhelming. The only problem with that is that we sometimes fall into guilt trips for not responding to God as quickly as it seems some Biblical characters did. We need to let the Holy Spirit show us the context of everything, and read the whole Bible to make it easier for us to recognize what He is saying to us. Here, it is probable that Peter had been doing a lot of thinking about this teacher Andrew had introduced to him. That made it easy for him to agree to let Jesus use his boat as a pulpit, so to speak, and also softened his heart to give the response recorded in this verse. In a sense you could say that Jesus was paying the “rental fee” for the use of the boat! Also, I personally think that the fish that were caught at this point were sold to fish dealers, who were likely to have been on the scene precisely to get their stock in trade. It’s possible that Peter even sold the boat to someone. That doesn’t take anything away from his life-changing decision to stop being a fisherman and simply follow this teacher about whom he still knew very little. I would guess that the income from the fish, at least, went to his wife to support her while he was running around the countryside with Jesus. People have used this story, probably for many centuries, to justify being irresponsible about all sorts of obligations. We aren’t to hesitate to be obedient to what the Lord shows us to do, but neither are we to use “the Lord told me” as an excuse to duck out on things. I heard of one man who, when he graduated from seminary (the one I was attending) wrote “Jesus paid it all” on all of his outstanding bills, and then skipped town. I hope no church was stupid enough to call him as their pastor!

I’ve had a few experiences that relate to this. The first Sunday in 1974 we were in Denver, listening to a former missionary to Vietnam who had had to leave because of the war there, when either Cathy or I (to this day neither of us has any idea which it was) turned to the other and said, “Do you want to sell the mobile home and move to Japan?” The first of March of that year, we arrived in Fukuoka! It seemed awfully sudden, and it was, but there were various things leading up to that moment, including being very frustrated by the bureaucracy we encountered when we contacted the mission board my parents served under. Also, by God’s grace we didn’t leave any loose ends. We found someone to take over payments on our mobile home, even in a very depressed housing market, shipped a fair amount of stuff to my parents, (they paid) gave away and threw away a lot of stuff, and then loaded the remainder into our Toyota and drove to Cathy’s parents in Virginia, before flying out to Japan. (Cathy’s father bought our very used Toyota from us as a kindness, but then one day when he had to drive it to deliver the mail because his truck wouldn’t start, he fell in love with it and bought nothing but Toyotas after that for the rest of his life!) All of that to say that God’s “suddenlies” are never totally isolated events. I wish I could say that I have always been that accurate about hearing and obeying God! Actually, in recent years we have discovered that Cathy’s parents knew from when she was a small child – before she knew it – that God had called her as a missionary. God’s plans are from eternity past, so nothing is ever “out of context!”

Father, I didn’t intend to write an autobiography this morning! Thank You for Your incredible faithfulness to me. Thank You for Your plans for today, for this week, and for the rest of my life. Help me indeed rest, relax, and rejoice in You, flowing with Your Spirit on Your schedule to accomplish Your will for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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