For those of us who have a few years of Sunday School under our belts, the story is a familiar one. Jesus is surrounded by eager crowds at the water’s edge. And so, finding a boat nearby, He jumps in, asks the boat’s owner Simon to push off from the shore, and from there He teaches the people. When he has finished speaking, he says to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” (Lk. 5:4)
At this point, Simon makes a statement that invites us to place ourselves within the story: “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” (Luke 5:5) How do you hear those words?
Over the years, I’ve heard them interpreted a variety of ways. On the one hand, we could hear this as the willing response of a man who has been so moved by Jesus’ teaching that obedience seems like the only fitting option. On the other hand, we could hear this as the mocking response of a man who intends to put Jesus in his place by demonstrating who really knows a thing or two about fishing. Either way, Simon does what he’s asked, and the result is blessing more abundant than he could have anticipated: “They caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.”
I wonder how often we find ourselves in a similar situation. Jesus speaks to us through the clear command of His word: Forgive as you’ve been forgiven. Freely you’ve received, so freely give. Be holy as your Father in heaven is holy. Or perhaps He calls to us through one of those “inner promptings” that invite us to say or do something that catches even us by surprise: Talk to that stranger. Perform this act of kindness. Pray for this person. And our response might be one of eager obedience; or it might be one of doubtful uncertainty. But when we do what the Lord commands – if only because He says so – we find that the result is blessing more abundant than we could have anticipated.
How will Jesus speak to us today? And will we do what He asks, if only because He says so?