“So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the Word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simons, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.
When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing: nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”
And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink." (NKJV)
The heart of Jesus was constantly moved with compassion for His people. He said they were like “sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36 & Mark 6:34). However, even Jesus may have found it difficult to continue to teach the people on the shores of the Lake of Gennesaret. The crowd was so huge and hungry for the Word and the Power that they pressed in from every side. When Jesus saw two idle boats, and the owners washing their nets, He asked one of them, Simon (Peter) to lend Him (Jesus) his boat. This served two purposes; Jesus was able to maintain a little breathing space from the people He was ministering to, and the water amplified His voice as He spoke to the crowd across the shallows.
Simon probably sat patiently in the boat with Jesus, feasting on the Word and enjoying being in His presence. And when Jesus concluded His message, He turned to Simon and asked him to:
1) Launch into the deep and 2) Let down his nets for a catch of fish.
This message is for many of the precious sons and daughters of the King, who are weary and worn out, and feel they have been toiling fruitlessly for many months or years. The Father has a turnaround in store for you!
Simon was an experienced fisherman. He had lived and grown by the waters, and had been fishing his whole life. His livelihood was from the water, and there was probably very little he did not know about being a successful fisherman. He knew the times that were good for fishing (normally between dusk and dawn), the places, and the ways to get a good catch. He understood fishing as a skill that involved patience, hard work and endurance. Now, in the middle of the day, Jesus (the carpenter’s son) was telling him to let down his nets in the deep waters. Simon did not think this was a very good idea, especially as he and his friends had stayed on the ocean all night (the right time to fish!) and their efforts had been fruitless. However, he had just spent time in the presence of Jesus and experienced the holy anointing there was in His presence. Simon had heard the words that fell from His lips, which stirred his crusty fisherman’s heart and made him want to weep. He realized there was something special about Jesus, so he decided to do what He said.
Simon said to Jesus “We have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net”. The nets had already been washed and cleaned and made ready for the next night’s fishing. Simon felt this was a futile effort, but he thought he would humor Jesus and cast one of his nets anyway. Jesus asked him to let down his ‘nets’ for a catch, and Simon said “because You are asking me to, I will let one down”.
There was no one more shocked than Simon when their net was filled with so many fish that it began to break! They were unable to even haul it all in without the help of their friends in the other boat. The weight of all the fish was too much to divide between the two boats! Paul wrote about the Lord in Ephesians 3:20 as the One who is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power than works in us”. Simon and his friends were unable to contain the blessing that flowed into their lives. What they received was amazing, but how much greater would the flow of heavenly abundance have been if they had heeded the word of the Lord and let down both nets!
Many of us may be disappointed or grieved with God, and blaming Heaven for not fulfilling our expectations, but we may have chosen to do things our way, instead of His way. We often obey the Word of God selectively, instead of yielding to everything it guides us to do. This may be with regard to our finances, relationships, our attitude to authority, lack of forgiveness towards people who have hurt us, etc. Some of us may not even be aware that we are in this kind of situation, but this may be a good opportunity to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to any areas that need His revelation and touch. We want nothing to stand in the way of the “exceedingly abundantly” blessing of God.
There are some threads of Truth we can take from this passage of Scripture to apply to our own lives:
1) Be willing to obey the Word of God. You may have tried something many times and not seen any results, but if the Lord (through His servants or His Word) gives you direction, go ahead and do what He tells you to do – you cannot possibly fail! He knows far better than you or I ever could, so let your obedience be complete, unlike Simon, who let down his net when Jesus asked him to let down his nets.
2) Be willing to launch out into the deep. We cannot get a large catch of fish by stayed by the safety of the shore. Sometimes we have to be willing to step out beyond our comfort zone, as God moves us into new places and situations to see greater victory and greater glory brought to His name. It takes faith to step into the unknown, but great faith brings great results! In unfamiliar situations, your trust in God is so much more, and the blessed Holy Spirit is able to do what He wills without our interference and knowledge!
3) Simon gave what was precious to him. A fisherman’s most valuable asset is his boat, and he readily gave it for the use of Jesus. This was only the beginning for him, as we know that he later laid down his whole life to serve the Lord, but that simple fishing boat in the hands of the master became a powerful instrument of blessing to the multitude who listened to the words He spoke, as well as the channel of blessing for Simon and his friends. We see this divine release of blessing throughout the Word of God, where someone willingly gave what they had (like the little boy who gave his loaves and fishes), and experienced exceedingly abundantly more than they could have ever asked or imagined! The Father seeks not our substance but the heart with which it is given to Him. Maybe today is a good day to think of a ministry that has blessed your life and sow a prayerful and joyful seed (of money or time) which the Master can take and turn into an abundant harvest for you.
4) There is a Gennaseret for you. The word “Gennaseret” is said to mean “harp shaped” and the lake was probably given this name because of its crescent-like shape. However, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia, the lake was surrounded by mountains and an adjoining plane which was extremely fruitful and verdant. The lake too was filled with all kinds of edible fish and was a rich source of food. Let us believe and declare that as we obey the words of Jesus and go where He leads us, and give Him our best, we are walking into that place of fruitfulness and abundant harvest; that land of milk and honey, which is our portion in the Lord!
5) New beginnings! Simon and his friends were washing their nets because they thought they had finished for the day. They had experienced a fruitless time of trying to fish and they were probably hoping vaguely that ‘tomorrow’ would be a better day. However Jesus had different plans for them. He brought a turnaround into their lives which shook them up and made them see everything in a new light! You may have hung up your battle gear or tools and washed your nets; you may have thought that there is not much more that you can do; but the Lord is waiting for you to yield to His Spirit. He is waiting for you to begin to follow His leading. He has a fruitful harvest and abundant return for you, and it is just the beginning for those who decide to truly trust in Him!
May you walk in great blessing, may your every need be met. May you see the hand of God moving over your life like never before. May you see His blessing pouring exceedingly and abundantly into your life, more than you ever asked or imagined, in the name of Jesus, Amen!
Minoli Haththotuwa, 19 September 2011