Luke 5 Stewardship Story
November 4, 2018
There’s a story about fishing in the 5thchapter of Luke. A fisherman myself, it’s one of my favorites. The story is set on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, in what is now northern Israel. The scene begins with Jesus so pressed upon by the crowds listening to this extraordinary rabbi, that he is forced out into a boat with Simon/Peter, a commercial sardine fisherman. Jesus turns to Simon and tells him, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”Simon then protests, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” He does that and hauls in a miraculous catch of fish so great that it nearly drowns him and his friends who try to help him. Then– it’s the last line in this story – he and his friends walk away from everything they have, Everything, and they follow Jesus. The last line reads, “They left everything and followed him.”
The story calls me in one part and grabs me by the collar and shakes me in another part. First, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” This isn’t about any kind of fishing that is familiar to us. It’s about crossing over into a new and deep place, one that is unfamiliar and probably disquieting to us. It’s about going to the edge of the unknown, the deep, and then crossing down into it.
In the Order of Holy Baptism, our priest says, “We thank you, Father, for the water of baptism. In it we are buried with Christ in his death. By it we share in his resurrection. Through it we are reborn in the Holy Spirit.” To put out into the deep is to risk drowning, but it is also to hope for resurrection and rebirth. That’s what I feel when the priest sprays us with water.
The part of this story that grabs me by the collar is the fishermen’s response to Jesus. They are so moved by him that they leave everything and follow him. I try to imagine that what that would be like. What would my life look like if I followed Jesus? The question hits me like a truck.
I’m troubled by my inability to leave my prosperity, my ease, all the comforts that Carol and I have. Those men didn’t just leave their fishing nets and their boats. They left their wives, and presumably their children. For each one, what remained behind them was different, but what lay in front of them was the same: a horizon they could not see. This was putting out into the deep, the unknown.
I wonder: Am I one of the listeners on the shore watching the men walk off into the distance following a rabbi? Or am I one of the men following Jesus, wondering, “Where are we going? How will we eat? How will we live?”
What are wewilling to leave behind to follow Jesus? The answer is different for each of us. I used to focus more on the cost of the leaving behind instead of on the peace that comes from following Jesus. Where we are being led, as we follow, is to an unknown place, filled with giving and receiving, with struggle and triumph, with some trepidation and yet with peace. Amen.