Pop star mania, a humble confession, and one extraordinary
fish story like
you've never heard before!


When it was day, Jesus departed and went into a deserted place.
The crowd sought Him and came to Him. They tried to keep Him
from leaving but He said to them, "I must preach the kingdom
of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have
been sent."

So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word
of God, He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret [Galilee], and saw
two boats standing by the lake. The fishermen had gone from
them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the
boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little from
the land. 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, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing;
nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net."

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. They came and filled
both the boats, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter
saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me,
for I am a sinful man, O Lord!"

Simon and all who were with him were astonished at the catch
of fish they had taken; and so also were [{Matt. 4:18-19} Andrew
his brother], and James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who
were partners with Simon. Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid.
From now on you will catch men." So when they had brought
their boats to land, [Jesus said to them, "Follow Me,"] and they
forsook all and followed Him.
                                                Luke 4:40-5:11 NKJV, condensed

                               A Carpenter and Four Fishermen

In Capernaum, Jesus was treated like a pop star. The crowds pressed in
on him. People greeted him with enthusiasm and did not want him to ever
leave them. Everyone wanted to get real close, possibly to catch a smile
meant just for them and see the love shining bright from his eyes.

What could Jesus do to disentangled himself from their clutches! He did
what we do. To avoid the crowds, you rise very early in the morning and
get where you want to go before most people wake up. Likewise Jesus left
the house at the crack of dawn and went off alone to pray . He needed a
break, some breathing space. He needed to talk to his Father. But the
people of Capernaum wouldn't leave him alone. They searched until they
found him, and tried to make him stay. But Jesus said, "No, I must go to
other cities and preach there also." Jesus' sense of calling--that the Spirit
of God was upon him to preach, teach and heal--was stronger than the
thrill of being enormously loved by these people.

Jesus began his exit strategy . He saw two boats on the edge of the Sea,
and got into one of them. It belonged to Simon and he asked Simon to push
the boat out into the water a bit. From there he taught the multitudes one
more time. When he decided enough is enough, Jesus asked Simon to
launch out into the deep water and drop the nets.

Jesus must have been in the mood for some fishing. Simon told him it was
no use to think of catching any fish today. He already had fished out there
all night and didn't catch anything. "But if that's what you want, we'll go out
and I'll let my nets down and you can go fishing." Surprise. Surprise. The
fish were there alright. So many fish that the net started breaking and they
needed help to gather them all. Andrew, James and John came and together
they hauled as many fish to shore as they could. Their boats were so full
they started to sink. Imagine the excitement and flurry of activity, the smiles
of success. They would be eating well tonight. And celebrating all the way
to the bank.

At this point the realization hit Simon smack on the forehead. Jesus had
made it happen. An incredible act of kindness and generosity. A miracle
for Simon's family and his partners. Simon was deeply touched and humbled.
Why would Jesus do this for me? He fell down at Jesus' knees and said
something about being a sinful man and not fit to be in the same boat
with Jesus.

It was a no-excuses, no-rationalization, straightforward confession. Simon
probably startled himself with his own words. After all, he was a good man
as fishermen go. But in the presence of Jesus he saw his own sins for what
they were. It's interesting that suddenly Simon thought Jesus should leave
when everyone else wanted Jesus to stay.

Jesus, who seemed to value humility above all else, liked Simon's response.
He simply told Simon, "Don't be afraid." Simon, you are more than good
enough for me! Don't be afraid of this miracle. Don't be afraid of what I will
ask of you. Don't be afraid that I know you inside and out.

The crowds were astonished at the abundance of fish. They knew Jesus
could heal, but multiply fish and help them earn a livelihood--that opened
a new window. Zebedee saw the miracle too. Experiences like this are
life-changing. They change the way you think about things. Jesus had
prepared Simon's mother-in-law. With this miracle he prepared Zebedee,
for what was coming next.

When they had docked their boats with all the fish on board, the four
fishermen left everything and followed Jesus. The fish were enough to tide
their families over for awhile.

Jesus was a carpenter. Simon, Andrew, James and John were fishermen.
Together they would travel throughout Galilee preaching a kingdom of
God so different, so radical and new, that Jesus called the poor blest. The
fishermen followed Jesus with no job descriptions or contract negotiations;
Jesus made no promises--only the comment that now they would catch
people instead of fish.

Many people wanted to know.--Who is this Jesus? The fishermen would
learn the answer to that question by following him. God reveals himself to
us today in the same way. It is not in the clamor and grabbing of the crowds
that we discover who Jesus is. It is by accepting his invitation, "Come,
follow me." It is not by searching, but by following that we know God. As we
begin to set ourselves to the tasks Jesus has for us, it is then that we begin
to know who he is.

Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further
study or reflection.

Icebreaker: Let's hear your fish story. Probably you or someone you know 
                      likes to fish, so tell us something about it.

If you had lived in Capernaum at the time, would you have been in the crowd
that came to see Jesus?
            Close to the front or at a distance?
            As much as possible or just long enough to see him?
            Believing, questioning, or doubting what you heard?

The crowds followed Jesus around. How was that different than what the
fishermen did when they followed Jesus?
            Could Jesus have made a disciple out of anyone in the crowd?
            What exactly is required of a person in order to be disciple material?

Jesus needed time and space to be alone for awhile.
            Can we assume that means he wanted to pray?
            Is it necessary for you to be alone when you pray?

Jesus was a man with a mission. He felt compelled to take his message
on the road to people in many cities. John the Baptist was also a man with
a mission. But he stayed in one place and people came to him.
            Is one of these methods better than the other?
            Why did they choose two opposite ways of delivering their message?

One way we know people is by their occupations. Our work often defines
something about us.
            How do you react to Jesus choosing fishermen to be his disciples?
            What could these fishermen possess that Jesus could possibly want?
            Were there 4 that followed Jesus that day, or possibly more?

Why do you think Jesus performed the fish miracle?
            Why was Simon so humbled by the experience?
            What was it that made Simon so conscious of his sins?
            Explain Simon's fear. What was it and why?

What about the families that got left behind?--parents, wives, probably
some children.
            How would your own parents have reacted in that situation?
            How do families survive a loss, whether temporary or permanent?

The text says Jesus taught the multitudes. If you're wondering what Jesus
said, you can get a sampling by reading Matthew, chapters 5, 6 & 7.

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