Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Church of the Resurrection. He helps lead worship at the Vibe, West, and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.
Today’s passage in Luke 5 is probably familiar to a lot of us. But there’s a lot buried in the context there. I’m going to put on my detective hat really fast… there we go!
The first thing to know is that, even though Peter and crew were willing to follow Jesus at a moment’s notice, they didn’t make the cut to follow other rabbi. In that time, most Jewish boys aspired to train under a rabbi and were eventually told they made the cut or they didn’t. The fact that Peter and crew are now fishermen means that they were not accepted under any other rabbi of that day.
Second, they wanted to see Jesus. That sounds obvious, but they weren’t there cleaning their nets there by happenstance, and that makes the next point more insightful: they wanted to see Jesus, but their job didn’t allow time for this. As fishermen, they worked hard to make ends meet. In fact, they had just pulled an all-nighter with nothing to show for it. So they worked their job around Jesus. That’s why they were there mending the nets–working while Jesus was teaching and listening from the outskirts was the only way for them to take in some of his wisdom.
So imagine their surprise when Jesus asks to use their boat. Finally, a chance to impact ministry! It was small, but Peter took it–he was willing to do anything to further the kingdom of God, even if it was just to let more important people use his boat as a place to preach.
I like to think of this as Jesus’s first test of Peter and his crew. He first tested whether they were willing to do anything to further the kingdom of God, then he tested whether they would obey even when it didn’t make sense–like when a religious teacher tried to give them fishing advice. But their faith, even through years of knowing that they weren’t good enough to be religious teachers and were only good enough to be fishermen, paid off in a huge way: they were named the first of Jesus’s disciples. And on top of that, Jesus didn’t try to say, “Change everything about yourself, clean up your act, and follow me.” Jesus said, “I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus said, “All those years you spent thinking you weren’t good enough, you will now use that experience to make the impact you’ve yearned for.”
I can relate to these fishermen. I moved up to Kansas City to be a worship leader. I was fired and told I didn’t have what it took to lead the church. I’ve been told on two separate occasions since then, by people who work in churches, that I don’t have what it takes to lead people in a church. I fell back on a web development job, but I kept up with reading about the Bible, psychology, and influencing others. Eventually, it’s as if God said to me, “Come, I’ll make you a debugger of people and not just websites.” I’ve been writing for the GPS for almost a year now, and God has used my music to reach large amounts of people as well. I’ve been told by complete atheists that I’ve completely changed their perspective on Christians and helped them through some of the hardest times of their lives. This is nothing to do with me and everything to do with God putting me in the right spots at the right times. Will I ever make the cut to work at a church? I don’t know–but I completely understand the joy and excitement that Peter felt on that day.
What about you? What do you feel called to that you’ve never felt like you’re ready to do? Maybe you’ve been told you’re not good enough. Maybe you’ve gone a completely different direction with your life. If God can use four fishermen to serve as the foundation of his church, he can use you, no matter where you are in life. Businessman? Great. Close a few deals with eternal impact. Nurse? Fantastic. God can use caring individuals in just about every place on the planet. Recovering alcoholic? Perfect. You know better than anyone how hard that journey can be, and there are others that need your help to even realize that their journey is yet to begin. The point is that, no matter your lot in life, God can use you, and if you’re faithful with the little things, you’ll be trusted with bigger things. If you’ve been told you’re not enough, if you’ve been away for too long, come back. God needs you and every bit of life experience you’ve had so far.
Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.