Photo courtesy of Sharon Haughton – Runaway Bay, Ja, 2016
Luke 5:1-11 (NIV)
(An entry inspired by Cameron Crayton’s message on June 18, 2016 at FTWC)
In Luke 5, we see the Messiah at the beginning of his ministry but already fully immersed in fulfilling His purpose and being a preacher, teacher, healer and deliverer. In this chapter His venue is the Lake Gennesaret, not a synagogue, a church or a house as would be expected in this day and age. He was not “out to minister”, he was ministering while he was out: these events were part of the normal course of His day. His Father’s business could be conducted anywhere and anytime and that is how He lived.
So Lake Gennesaret with its rocks and sands became the pews on which people sat for the Word and rose up delivered. I love that this ministry happened outside of the designated walls of temples: the place for healing was wherever He stood and the timing was always opportune for those that believed. It goes further, as the shore became crowded (really crowded), Yahshua (Jesus) was completely surrounded and this affected his reach, some people could not see him or hear him, he was getting swallowed up in the noise and press of the people in need. So He took his unconventional methods another step, no doubt evaluating his circumstances: how do I widen my sphere of influence, how do I stay effective without being swamped? He looked in his surroundings and used what he saw, to increase the effectiveness of his ministry.
Luke 5:2 (NIV) says he saw two boats…and he got into one of them. It turns out that the boat he selected belonged to a man called Simon. As random as the selection of the boat may seem, we can safely conclude that the choice was divine – if there is a disciple known to all believers, it is one called Simon/Peter. He selected Simon’s boat, because this was only the introduction to the lesson Simon would learn about being used for the Master’s purpose: it begins with an available vessel.
As you know, boats have a general purpose. This boat was a vessel used by fishermen, transporting them and their catch from the shore and to the deep waters and back – without a boat, fishermen can only get so far. The boat gives them the ability to go to depths that they would not normally be able to reach in their own strength. The normal use of the boat is its employment for the owner’s service. This boat appeared to be idle on the shore at the time when the Messiah selects it for His purpose. It is not that it is useless, not at all, it has been used before; but right now, it is just ‘resting’, waiting for the next opportunity to be used in its conventional way.
How many times we park our gifts and our otherwise effective tools because we are waiting for the opportunity to be used as normal. Perhaps once per month we are called to speak in front of our church audience, or every week we must use our songs to lead the praise team. During the wait between gigs our gifts are left to the ebb and flow of the tide – unoccupied and idle, maybe even bored. What if during the course of our day at work, we spoke to our neighbors whose desk is three feet away or what if we went to the nursing home and sang for the lonely elderly individual who never gets visitors? Our gifts are not made for special events, but rather, we are at the disposal of the Messiah and the question is: are we willing to be used in an unconventional manner?
Simon’s boat was selected and he quickly followed the instructions given, turning the vessel made for the hauling of fish, into the platform from which the Savior spoke. The use of the boat amplified His voice and made Him more visible to the people in need. From the boat Yahshua sat and taught. He got comfortable, at ease in Simon’s boat, and would in the next few chapters, transform Simon the man. First, is our vessel available for Him to choose? Second, would we follow His instructions to do something unconventional, even though our vessel has never been used in this way before? The truth is our vessels become more useful the moment He occupies us: the moment we get out of idle mode or, wake up from rest and pause modes, this is when our gifts can be His platform from which others can be blessed.
The employment of Simon’s vessel was only the beginning. It really was an introduction to the Savior and the encounter would not end there. After the use of his boat, Simon was now being given instructions on his craft. He was a skilled fisherman, now being told that an act as simple as casting his net on the other side of the boat would render results that he had not seen from doing things the way he usually did it (I wonder why?). Yahshua was in the process of teaching Simon (and us) a lesson to be remembered and practiced throughout his (and our) ministry:
Your gifts are good; yes, you have great skills and you have been doing this for a long time; but should you place your gifts into My hand, should you obey Me and be willing to make your vessel available to Me, to subject your skill to My wisdom and instructions, you will see results you have never before experienced in all your years of doing. Much more, when you get to that point, you will also be willing to step off the boat and step into the greatness that I am affording you. You will give your life to Me; not just your gifts, not just your skills! You will give me your whole life and commit to serving and following Me.
It was never about our gifts, it is about our purpose. Our purpose is to be fishers of men – to surrender our life to Him first, to use our gifts and skills in the way He instructs and see the returns on His Kingdom for His praise. Let us break from the usual and the traditional and let Him guide us into unconventional ways of touching lives and demonstrating His love to the world.