September 2024

‘Launch out into the deep’ Luke 5:4 (KJV)

Luke off­ers us the fullest life story of Jesus that we possess; an account based on eyewitness evidence. The first chapters tumble us into what the kingdom of God is really about - a fast forward display of His reign on earth. Luke’s focus is on Gentiles, children, women and social outcasts, in need of the good news of salvation, of the kingdom and as seen in Jesus for ALL people.

Rather than good news, this is upsetting news for Jesus’ listeners in the Nazareth synagogue. Initial wonder (Luke 4.22) turns to wrath and Jesus is turned out. I am reminded of his explanation of the parable of the sower and the seed (Matthew 4.20). The word is received with joy but then causes offence. Then as now, concepts of another kingdom can sometimes disrupt. Society is often torn between ‘acceptable’ thinking or behaviour and new concepts that start by being seen as breaths of fresh air but get rejected when uncertainty and fear intervene.

Following miracles of healing, the crowds are on the shore ‘pressing upon Jesus to hear the word of God’. Out to lynch Jesus at one point, they are now hanging on his every word. Standing amongst them, Jesus asks Simon to ‘thrust out a little from the land’ enabling him to address the multitude. Then, ‘Launch out into the deep’, Jesus says. Simon the fisherman cannot believe his  ears: ‘We’ve toiled all night and taken nothing’ he says. Nevertheless, he obeys and lets down his nets, catching so many fish they break!

Just as Jesus’ listeners in the synagogue were astonished at what they heard, so was Simon at what he saw. He could so easily have refused Jesus; how thankful he must have been that he did what was asked. That obedience led him to a future beyond his imagination. Perplexed as Simon was, his submission led to his recognition of the Saviour.

What about us? Is our God too small? Are our prayers limited by doubt? Does fear diminish our expectations? As we age, we can become risk averse. We may no longer want to launch out into the deep. This September, let us pray that Jesus keeps our ears open to hear his voice, and our hearts willing to obey him.  Who knows what may follow?