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Net Profit. Without Jesus/With Jesus

Bures 10.2.2019, Luke 5:1-11

We’ve lived in our house for 36 years. About this time of year, I get excited about what new things we can do in our little garden. What needs to come out, what new plants to buy, how to improve the lawn. I enjoy it but it’s hard work. One man has said, “Gardening requires a lot of water – most of it comes in the form of perspiration”.

If you have a garden, I wonder what plans you have for it this year. Will you turn it into the Hanging Gardens of Babylon or will it disappear under a mountain of weeds?

One thing I have bought for our garden this year is this…. It is a tulip bulb. In fact, I’ve bought a number of them. Ugly looking thing, isn’t it? Not something you would put on a shelf for decoration! But plant it in your garden; and this is what happens… leaves start to shoot. And then this – the most beautiful flower.

On its own this tulip bulb is nothing. It’s useless. But when you put it into soil then….wow.

But what has all this to do with the passage Kate read just now?

Well, the scene looks like this. On the beach of the Sea of Galilee are some fishermen cleaning their nets. Next to them is a jostling crowd. This crowd surrounds a new teacher who has caused quite a stir in the region recently. The teacher shouts at one of the fishermen, “Can I use your boat to speak from? These folks, in their eagerness, are pushing me into the sea!”

Simon, the fisherman, says yes, that’s fine. And the speaker climbs into the boat. He finishes his talk from the boat. The crowd subsides and leaves.

Then Jesus says something amazing. He tells Simon, “Push out into the deep water and let down your nets!”

There are 4 things we need to know at this point.

First, the fishermen had caught nothing all night and were very fed up.

Secondly, a few days before, Jesus had healed Simon’s mother-in-law of a fever; so, Simon does realise that Jesus is someone a bit special.

Third, the fishermen have just cleaned their nets. So, the last thing they want to do was to lower them, catch nothing and have to clean them all over again.

Fourth, Simon understandably would think, “Hey, I’ve fished this lake hundreds of times. If there are any fish I know where they are. Who is this landlubber who is telling me where to drop my nets?”.

So, Jesus gets a pretty frosty reply from Simon. “Look, Master, we’ve been fishing all night and we’ve caught nothing, not even a tiddler. But…. But just because it’s you, and just because you say so, we’ll try again”.

So, he does as Jesus instructs. And, up comes a massive haul of fish! So much so that the net starts to break. “Bring another boat!” shouts Simon to his fishing partners. “I need help.” The weight of the catch almost makes both the boats sink.

Simon is astounded – and mortified that he’s doubted Jesus. WITHOUT Jesus, even as an experienced fisherman, he’s caught nothing. WITH Jesus telling him where to lower the nets, he lands a massive catch. He comes and kneels at Jesus’ feet, ashamed at his attitude towards him.

Simon’s two partners in the fishing business are James and John. They too stand there open-mouthed. Jesus calls all three of them over and said, “Come and follow me.” Immediately, they leave their nets and follow him.

But Jesus told Simon a very interesting thing that day. “From now on you won’t be catching fish. You’ll be catching people.”

You’ll remember that in the Book of Acts, after Pentecost, Simon (now called Peter) got up in front of a huge crowd in Jerusalem and preached. The result was that 3,000 people became followers of Jesus. Yes, he was now catching people big time.

That day on the beach changed Simon for ever. ( Before that day he was like the unbelieving friend in the sketch just now.) But that all changed. He was still head-strong. And he often spoke without thinking. But God was to use him to achieve things way beyond his wildest dreams.

Let’s pretend for a moment that I am a tulip bulb. It’s a comfortable life standing on a shelf. But, WITHOUT soil, I will gradually start to wither and die. However, if I am put into the ground, WITH soil my outer shell will crack open. Roots will start to grow downwards. Shoots will grow upwards. Out of me will come fresh, green leaves; then a stunning flower.

Simon could have stayed as a fisherman – WITHOUT Jesus. He probably could have run a successful fish restaurant – “Simon’s Superb Salmon Saloon”! But we would never have heard of him.

But, WITH Jesus, he and his fellow disciples eventually set the world alight. It is because Simon was WITH Jesus, that you and I are in this church this morning.

When I started my first job I sat on a row of desks. The young man next to me was an alcoholic. He used to come in every morning with a terrific hangover and be very grouchy. During the day he would perk up, especially after he’d had his first drink.

One day he came in early to the office. He was bright and perky. I asked him why. Oh, I’ve become a Christian and I’ve given up drink. I was so impressed that a few weeks after that I too became a Christian. He had become a new man – so much nicer to be around. Before, he was WITHOUT Jesus; now he was WITH him. It was because of what I saw in him that I became a Christian too

The challenge for us is to be willing to walk WITH Jesus, to learn from him, to put into practice what he tells us to do – every day. It is a tough discipline. But incredibly rewarding. Do we listen to him every day? Do we read his word every day? Do we obey him every day? If we don’t, can we really say that we are walking WITH Jesus?

Do we want just to sit on a shelf, like a lonely tulip bulb? Or do we want to be WITH Jesus in the fertile soil he provides? Because only then can we grow strong roots, push our leaves into the open air; and produce the most beautiful flowers in the garden.

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