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Luke 5:1-11


Intro:  When I was growing up in Alabama, one of our favorite things to do was go fishing.  Big Wills Creek meandered through my grandfather’s pasture and was a great place to fish in those days.  In fact, that creek was nearly as large as the Catawba River is here.  Anyway, we would find us some worms and get down there on that bank and catch big old catfish, gar and even crawdads that were big enough to take home and eat.  Sometimes, we would go to Weiss Lake and stay there all night fishing for crappie.  We would eat potted meat and vienna sausages and bologna sandwiches. There were times when we caught stringers full of fish, and other times when we didn’t catch much at all.  Of course, we would always talk about “the one that got away.”  Those fishing trips from my youth are worth remembering now because they were a good time for our family.

      In our text, we read about some fellows who had been on a fishing trip they would have liked to have forgotten about.  They didn’t talk about the one that got away, because they had all gotten away!  Then Jesus showed up and He took them on A Fishing Trip To Remember.

      Today, I would like to point out a few elements of this passage that speak to the church.  God has a word to say to our hearts today.  Just as He did for those fishermen; He wants to take us on a fishing trip too.  Not one of those kinds where you drown a bunch of worms; donate blood to the mosquitoes and come home empty handed.  Jesus wants to take us on A Fishing Trip To Remember.  Consider three elements of this passage with me today.


  I.  v. 1-3                      CONSIDER THE VESSEL

A.  v. 3  It Was A Place Of Intimacy – Up until then Peter’s boat had been a place of toil, labor and frustration.  It was a vessel used to eek out a meager living.  But, when Jesus climbed on board, that boat became a place of personal closeness, intimacy and fellowship.  It was a place where all who were on board could be close to Jesus Christ.

            That’s exactly what the church is, or at least, it is what the church ought to be!  This building is just a brick and mortar structure situated beside the highway until the people of God enter.  But, when this building is occupied by those who know the Lord, this structure becomes a place of closeness; a place of intimacy and a place of fellowship with the Lord Jesus.  There isn’t too much special about this place when it is empty, but when the saints come marching in, it becomes a real precious place. What makes this place so special when the children of God gather in?  Think about this:

      1.  It is special because of who shows up here – The Redeemer is here, Matt. 18:20; The Redeemed are here, 1 John 3:1-2.

      2.  It is special because of what we do here – The Sovereign God is praise; the Son of God is preached; the Saints of God are perfected.

      3.  It is special because of what we find here – There is Food for our Souls; Freedom from our Setbacks; and Fellowship with the Saints.

            Thank God for the church!  It is an oasis in the desert of this world.  It is a light in the darkness.  It is a place of refuge and revival for weary hearts.  It is a place of hope and help.  May the Lord help us to never take the church for granted.  But, may we ever love the church; support the church; pray for the church and defend the church!

B.  v. 1, 3  It Was A Place Of Instruction – Jesus turned that humble vessel into a pulpit from which He preached the Word of God!  Those on board and those within earshot were given the privilege of hearing Jesus Christ instruct them in the things of the Lord.

            Again, that is a picture of the church.  When we come to this place we should find it to be a place of instruction for souls!  From the opening assembly, to Sunday School, to the preaching time, the Word of God should be paramount and instruction in righteousness should be our goal and our commitment.  Biblical teaching should be the hallmark of every true church!

            Sunday School is not a time to tell stories, exchange recipes or talk about the game.  It is a place and a time set aside to study and glean truth from the Bible.  The preaching time is not a time for some man to get up and try to work up the crowd.  Preaching is about getting into the Word of God and of exposing the truth contained within it.  Preaching is not about how loud you can yell; how long you can preach; or about how much you shout.  Preaching is about declaring the whole counsel of Word.  Here is what God says to the preacher of the Word, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine,” 2 Timothy 4:2.

            The church is to be a place of instruction!  That is why you need to come with a Bible, a notebook and a pen.  You should come ready to listen and clean in your heart, hungry for God to teach you His truth.  Sadly, for many, church has ceased to be a place where the saints are edified and has become a place where the services are endured.

C.  v. 5  It Was A Place Of Irritation – Peter is obviously irritated because he and the other fishermen there had fished all night and accomplished nothing.  These men were tired; they were frustrated and they were defeated.  They had done everything in the power to be successful and they had failed.  Verse 2 tells us that the fishermen weren’t even in their boats, but were on the shore washing their nets.  They were engaged in good work and in busy work; but they weren’t accomplishing the greatest work: catching fish.  That boat that day had become a place of irritation!

            Does that ever sound like the church to you?  Do you ever get frustrated?  Do you ever get irritated?  Do you ever just get tired?  I mean, we come here week after week; we sing, we pray, we preach, we testify, we shout and we go home.  We come again at the next appointed time and do it all over again.  We are busy and we are doing a good thing; but it seems like something is missing.  What could it be?  Oh yeah!  We aren’t catching any fish!

            Now, Peter and those other men knew how to fish.  They were professionals, but they still struck out that night.  We know how to fish around here, don’t we?  We have the right bait; we have the right tackle; and we know where the fish are, but we just can’t seem to get them in our boat.  And, sometimes, it is frustrating!  Wouldn’t you agree?


 II.  v. 4-5                      CONSIDER THE VOYAGE

A.  v. 4  A Command – Jesus issues a two-fold command to Peter and the men in the boat.  He tells them to “Launch out and let down.”  A couple of observations need to be made here.

      1.  There was nothing wrong with the vessel – The boat was sea worthy and Jesus ordered them to take it out into deeper water.  By the way, there’s nothing wrong with the church this evening! Despite the howling of the critics from without and from within, when the church operates according to the instructions given to us in the operator’s manual, the church is a thing of great power and great wonder.  There’s nothing wrong with the vessel!  The waters are rough; some of the crew is seasick; and others are frustrated, but the Old Ship of Zion is running true this evening!  Regardless of the fault you may wish to find with the church; it is the ONLY boat afloat!  And, you don’t fix a leaky vessel from the outside!

      2.  The vessel needed to go where the fish were – Jesus knew that the fish were not where the boat was.  If those men expected to catch any fish, they would have to go where the fish were swimming; and during the heat of the day, that meant moving out into deeper waters.  The fish were not in the shallows, and they certainly were not in the boat.  They were out there in the deep.

                  The same is true when we speak of reaching lost people with the Gospel.  We are casting our nets, but we are fishing too near the shore.  The fish are out there in the deep waters of the world and if we are going to throw the net over them, we are going to have to get out there where they are!  We can pray and ask God to save souls; but until we go to where the souls are, we will see very few saved.  Listen to what Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” Mark 16:15.  The operative word there is “Go!”  We cannot fish until we go to where the fish are waiting!

      3.  A net will never fill up with fish until it is first let down – Those fellows could have washed those nets, mended those nets and hauled those nets all over that lake; but they would have never caught a fish until those nets were first let down.  They could have bought the finest nets money could buy, and still they wouldn’t have caught any fish until the nets were let down.  They could have studied all the newest ways for casting and drawing nets; but until they let the nets down into the deep water, they would have caught no fish.  They could have talked about fishing with other fisherman and discussed various ways of casting the nets, but they would have had no success until they let down their nets.

                  Do you get the picture?  We seem to think that as long as have the right Bible, the right kind of preaching, the right kind of music, the right kind of standards, wear the right kind of clothes, and say the right things, then fish are guaranteed.  Friends, nothing could be farther from the truth!  Church folk talk about witnessing; learn new methods of witnessing; develop services and build aquarium where any fish would be happy and comfortable and we wait for them to swim in.  The truth is: they don’t!  And, they aren’t going to!

                  Just as it was that day, Jesus knows where the fish are.  He sends us to where they are, and He tells us to fish.  And, just as it was in that day, when we obey His commands, He will fill the nets.  Listen, our plans, our programs, and our efforts, are all useless unless they are designed and directed by the Lord.  But, when the church goes to where He sends her and she lets down here nets; He will fill them for His glory!

B.  v. 5  A Concern – When Peter hears the Lord’s command, he reminds Jesus that they have already fished all night and caught nothing.  Night time was the best time for fishing.  The fish were nearer the surface during the cool hours of the night and were more easily located and caught.  And, those men had worked so hard.  The word “toiled” means “to labor with wearisome effort.”  All night long these men had let down and pulled in those nets over and over again.  And, they had “taken nothing”; which means “not even one.”  All night long they had fished and had not even caught a single sardine!  All they wanted was to go home and get some sleep and fortget about that long, awful, wasted night.

            He is saying, “Lord, we’ve already tried that and it didn’t work!  We are professionals!  We know what we are doing and, no offence, but aren’t you a carpenter?  Leave the fishing to us!  We tried it already it didn’t work.  There’s no use in going out there again.”

            It is sad, but Peter sounds like the typical Baptist.  We look at the programs we have tried in the past and see very little, if any, success and we say, “There’s no use to try that again!  We know how to do it, and we tried it but it didn’t work.”  Maybe we are like the disciples.  Maybe we have always tried in our own power.  Maybe we didn’t go when He commanded to where He commanded.  Maybe He wasn’t even included in the things we did then.  I would just remind you that without Him, all our efforts are doomed to fail, John 15:5.


III.  v. 6-11                   CONSIDER THE VICTORY

(Ill. In spite of being tired, defeated, frustrated and filled with doubt, Peter obeyed the command of Jesus.  Because he did, he got in on some miracles that he would have missed otherwise.  By the way, God can work in spite of our doubts, if we will obey Him anyway!)

A.  v. 6-7  A Miracle Involving The Fish – When Peter and the other men obeyed Jesus, they enclosed so many fish that their nets threatened to break.  They called to their partners and so many fish were loaded into those boats that both boats began to sink.  Amazing!  They were fishing in the wrong place, at the wrong time of day and still they experienced success!  It didn’t make sense, but there was no denying the results!

            One of these days, the Lord Jesus is going to say to Calvary Baptist Church, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a draught.” When He does, I am sure some will want to argue about what happened when we tried that back then.  But, a few are going to say, “We’ve tried that before and it didn’t work too well.  But, nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.”  Those who do that are going to see the Lord do a great work!

            You see, there are plenty of fish out there today; more than enough to fill this vessel and many more like it.  If we want to see the Lord grant us a miracle; if we want to see Him save souls; if we want to see Him fill our vessel to overflowing; then we must learn to let down the nets when, where and how He says.  That is the secret to success!

B.  v. 8-10a  A Miracle Involving The Fishermen – When Peter and the others saw what Jesus had done, those rough, crude fishermen fell at the feet of Jesus in humble worship!  They were amazed at His power and they glorified Him for what He had done.

            My friends, nothing in this world will fill us with a greater desire to worship Him than seeing Him save souls.  When we see Him move in power in our churches, our homes and our communities, we will be filled with excitement, love and a desire to magnify Him.  Just as a newborn baby comes into a home and brings excitement; nothing can stir a church up any quicker than seeing little babies born into the family of God.

            Do you want God to fill this church with excitement and with His glory?  If you do, then launch out into the deep and let down your net.  Share the Gospel message wherever you may go and the Lord will do a work in your heart.  Than, when you return to the church, you will be filled with His glory and it will stir up others.

C.  v. 10b-11  A Miracle Involving The Future – Jesus says, “Peter, men, you haven’t seen anything yet!  You think this was something?  Just wait until you see souls getting caught in the Gospel net!”  The Bible tells us that these men left their fishing nets behind and went after Jesus.  Because they did, you and I are here tonight!  Think about it!  Old Peter, who bowed at Jesus’ feet on that ship, later stood at Jerusalem on Pentecost and preached the Word of God.  When He did 3,000 souls were saved!  Those people picked up the Gospel net and cast it far and wide.  Others picked it up after them, and others, and others, until one day, someone cast the net and you and I were enclosed within it.  That is how this thing has always worked, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also,” 2 Tim. 2:2.

            Today, the net is in our vessel.  Is Jesus telling us to launch out into the deep and let down our nets?  I think He is!  But, what are we going to do about it?  We too can see a miracle involving the future if we will go with Jesus and cast where He tells us.  But, God help the next generation if we don’t!


Conc:  Sometimes, I think back on those days when I was growing up.  I think it would be nice to take a rod, a few worms and a stringer and go sit on the river bank all night and try to catch a big catfish.  But, do you know what I think would be better than that?  I think it would be better to invite Jesus to get on our vessel and ask Him where He would have us let down our nets; and then watch Him fill them to overflowing for His glory.  Yep, that would be far better than drowning a few worms and donating a pint of blood to the save the mosquitoes.

      I wonder if the Lord has spoken to you about your own fishing.  If He has, what is He telling you to do?  I think I might know!  I think He might be telling us to “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a draught.”  Are we going to do it, or are we going to stand there and argue with Him?

      From the moment we are saved until the day we are taken home, we are to be casting the Gospel net.  We are fishers of men!  I don’t know about you, but I want to see some fish in the net!  If the Lord has spoken to you, like He has spoken to me through this passage, then I invite you to join me as I bow before Him and ask Him to take us on A Fishing Trip Worth Remembering.

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