Jesus Calls the First Disciples
5 Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2 he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6 When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” 11 When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
Our last value that our elemental leadership team came to was “Leadership” and how to develop leaders.
I’ve used this gospel lesson before, I’ve even talked about my dad wanting me to be as passional about fishing as we was. I grew to enjoy it a bit, but never was like him in his love for it.
But, this gospel lesson has some great things about leadership. You see, even though I wasn’t a fisherman, I did grow in my understanding of who I am…and I still am growing. And, one thing about my dad, he was authentic, and I think I share that authenticity.
It’s fascinating to me that all of the values that we have come up with as a church: authenticity, partnerships, diversity, spiritual gifts, and leadership are all interconnected and feed off of each other.
What causes them to grow is a deep sense of leadership within each of us. We may be sitting here thinking we are not leaders, but we are. All of us. That leadership starts when we sense a spark within us. A longing being met by a moment in our lives. This is true for us individually, and collectively as a church.
In my doctoral project that has now begun, we met last week and talked about forming community and that it starts with the speed of trust. This group of church and community folk gave over trust to one another from the beginning, but as we’ve shared, have been vulnerable, that trust is growing and we are seeing gifts within each other. And, we are seeing leadership within our group arise…within all of us. I may be the convener of this group, but I’m also being present and leading and following in so many ways. I am also a co-learner in this process and it’s leading me, and others, towards growth.
That’s what Jesus is doing in this morning’s gospel lesson…and Peter is following his lead, giving him some trust.
Let’s look at this passage a bit. We find Jesus right after the story where Jesus was preaching in his hometown of Nazareth and the folks wanted throw him off a cliff that we read last week. He is at a lake and there are so many people crowding around him to hear him that he gets into a boat and pulls out on the water so he can speak.
When he’s done, he tells Simon, later to known as Peter, to throw down their nets again in deep water.
Peter protests, he was a good fisherman.
They grew up around it, it gave them fellowship, a source of income, and they were good at it.
They had fished all night. They knew the right places, they had the right technique, they had the correct bait to attract fish, yet, they caught nothing. All night, nothing.
I’m sure they are thinking, how would that help? We know these waters, we know how to fish…moving our nets a few feel won’t do anything. Yet, they had fished all night with no results. They were doing what they always did which got them something in times past, but nothing on this day.
So, they take a risk, trust this guy on the beach, and throw their nets out again. What happens? They trusted, had some faith, and they caught more fish than ever before!
Friends, this passage can speak to us in our personal lives and in lives together as . There may be things that we’ve done for a long time in our lives that simply are not working anymore, we need a fresh perspective, maybe we need to put our nets somewhere else. We all need to have a deeper trust in the Divine. We certainly need to slow down, and listen to the voice of God calling us to put our nets out again…and to trust.
And, fishers of humans? That simply means that we are called to connect, to love, and to build genuine friendships…but it starts with trusting ourselves, others, and God’s prompting. Leadership starts with trusting and then hearing the call deep within.
As we do this, we will find ourselves in the midst of conversion. Conversion is a lifelong process. The Benedictine monks got it, they would pray for Stability, Obedience, and Conversion daily. It’s interesting to me that Benedictine monks have been models of leadership for centuries. A key element of that leadership is listening, I read this about the Benedictine rule of obedience this week, check this out:
I’ve often marveled, that the first word of The Rule of St. Benedict isn’t pray, worship, or even love. It’s listen. This small, unobtrusive word speaks in a whisper. To anyone who studies Benedictine spirituality, the phrase listen . . . with the ear of the heart becomes so familiar we can easily lose sight of how revolutionary it is. Listening in the Benedictine sense is not a passive mission. Benedict [c. 480–547] tells us we must attend to listening. In some translations of The Rule, we are to actively incline ourselves toward it, and nurture it in our everyday activities. Listening is an act of will. . . .
Listening cracks open the door to another Benedictine concept from which most of us would rather run,—that of obedience. . . . Obedience comes from the Latin, oboedire, to give ear, to harken, to listen. The Benedictine writer Esther de Waal says that obedience moves us from our “contemporary obsession with the self,” [or I would ‘ego’’] and inclines us toward others. . . . . [St. Benedict] moves beyond the common understanding of the word as solely an authoritarian, top-down dynamic. He stresses instead mutual obedience, a horizontal relationship where careful listening and consideration is due to each member of the community from each member, as brothers and sisters. It is by this way of obedience, he says, that we go to God.
This church, our lives, we are in the midst of conversion. All of us, myself included, are moving towards new chapters in our lives. That is good news for me, for us, and for all of those around us. This conversion starts with listening, true listening…which leads us towards trust, towards faith, and towards leadership
Jesus’ call to Peter, and to us, is to trust what he sees in us. Jesus sees you and me. God’s Spirit dwells within Jesus and within us and is calling us towards using our gifts to lead, to take some risks, to trust. Now, it’s unusual in those days for a rabbi as Jesus was to call his followers to follow him. We often don’t see the gifts that we have, but Jesus does and is calling us to use them to build relationships with ourselves and others. Jesus sees Peter and the future disciples fishing and tells them to follow him and become fishers of men. He doesn’t tell them to form a study, a committee, or go to seminary, he tells them to simply do something they understand. Fish. But, to go after others, to pursue friendships with others and include them into community.
Saying Yes to Jesus can be crazy, adventurous, and overwhelming…sometimes heeding God’s call on and in our lives may take us into dark places…but, we are not alone. Our identity as Christians is simply a follower of Jesus….and Jesus followers are willing to trust and take risk. Friends, this world is crying out for those of us who claim to be Jesus followers to hear the call on our lives to follow the depths of our heart as deep calls into deep…as God calls into God’s self residing within us to come forth out of the tomb of death that the systems of this world want us to stay in…calling us to new life, true life, our true selves.