(painting by Henry Ossawa Tanner)
One of my cousins just graduated from High School and is now in training for the mission field. I’m so proud of her. She has taken a big step in going further in her relationship and ministry for our Lord and God. In Luke 5:4 Peter is introduced into a new level of ministry too. Jesus teaches, then tells Peter, “Launch out into the deep.” The word “deep” has some awesome meanings. It is the Greek word “bathos,” and means depth, as in “deep water,” and without further study, this is what we assume He’s talking about here in Luke 5. But there’s something even more exciting to it.
The word Jesus used, “bathos” for “deep” also means “profundity” (a word I had to look up). Profundity is profoundness. It’s “understanding, perceptiveness, insight, complexity, enormity, intricacy, greatness, extensiveness and mystery.”
First Corinthians 2:10 uses this same word translated “deep”: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth [is searching] all things, yea, the deep things of God.”
Jesus was telling Peter to launch out, not only into the deeper waters of Lake Tiberius, but into the deeper waters of relationship with Him and ministry to His people. But like many Christians today, Peter had his own ideas of where he was at and what he was willing to do. He told Jesus, “Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing” (v. 5)
Honestly, how many times have we prayed and felt that we didn’t get our prayers answered? Or what about the times we stepped out boldly to minister healing to someone and it didn’t work? What about the times we cast a demon out and it kept coming back? Here was Peter: He’d come in from fishing all night with his crew; they caught nothing; he and the guys had already cleaned all the junk off the nets, wrapped them up and put them away. They had failed this time and knew it. But Jesus didn’t let them stay that way. They were at the end of their rope, disappointed and exhausted and Jesus asked them to do something they really really didn’t want to do! Get back in the boat, do exactly what you did all night long, only this time I want you to go out even further and deeper!
It’s like that in our individual growth as a minister to God’s people. We do our best and then Jesus asks us to go even further, even deeper. Sometimes it means looking deeper into our own souls and finding the things we’re not so proud of. When Jesus told Peter to “let down your nets for a haul,” Peter wanted to do it, but he was a little short on believing and he only took one net. “When they enclosed a great multitude of fishes their net broke” (v. 6) Peter found out he didn’t trust Jesus as much as he maybe thought he did. “When Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the haul of the fishes which they had taken” (vv. 8-9).
When Jesus challenged Peter to “launch out into the deep” Peter found out one of his personal weaknesses: a lack of total trust and maybe some personal pride as well. But He was at least brave enough to obey the call the best he could at the time.
Then Jesus says something really interesting to Peter. He says, “Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men” (v. 10).
This incident was a big part of Peter’s training to be a great minister for the Lord. Though he had a heart willing and desiring to do Jesus’ commandments and follow His instructions, Peter made some pretty big mistakes.
A minister for the Lord has to realize he or she will make mistakes. Jesus is telling Peter to not be afraid of this. He was saying something like this:
“You are going to gather men and women like yourself. They will sin and fall short just like you and because you know the downfalls, you’ll have compassion and will be able to help them.
“You will be able to tell them your own story and how I helped train you and how you had to change your mind and get back in the boat one more time. You launched out into the deep at my urging and now you have seen in Me and in yourself the profound. You have more understanding, perceptiveness and insight. You see much deeper, the complexity, enormity, intricacy, greatness, extensiveness and mystery—more of ‘the deep things of God.’”
You who have been called to ministry, and have taken the leap, I am so proud of you. Welcome to the deep.
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