Part of the beating heart of Ruach Breath of Life Ministries
We first began to interweave music and prayer many years ago during our conferences, and saw how this enhanced both as a result. In a quest to move beyond “watertight” compartments (worship, teaching and intercession), we also experimented with putting teaching to music. Some of you may remember The Father of Lights: Part One and Part Two teaching on the book of James, which we set to music composed by Tim Finch. More recently we released fifty meditations on Revelation chapter 1, using Patmos as a metaphor for “narrow” times in life, set to beautiful music we had recorded. We will be continuing to send out these tracks from time to time.
We are beginning a mini-series this week called Put out into the Deep. I preached on this theme, in which Jesus called His first disciples, at Love Song for Jesus in Jersey a couple of weeks ago. Ros and I have enjoyed turning all twenty minutes of it into a four part recording. Today’s offering is by far the longest, being some ten minutes in length.
The double blessing is the music that accompanies the teaching. First comes a Schubert Impromptu, that reflects the feel of the lake, beautifully played for us by Jo Foote. Then comes an extract from a piece of music I named “Deep” – little suspecting when I wrote it that it would end up in a presentation called Put out into the Deep! I took the picture of the boat in Shetland a few years ago rather than two thousand years ago in Galilee!
It’s always good to explore the Scriptures – especially the Gospels – as if we were inside the story, “seeing” from the perspective of the various characters. Come with us back to the shores of the Sea of Galilee as the Lord Jesus enabled the disciples to land a bumper catch of fish, and in the process set His seal on their call to follow Him. The idea is to keep seeking the Lord when this particular Soundcloud ends to see what the Lord may have to say about our calling.
We have appended the words below, but we very much hope that you will the time aside to listen rather than just to read!
Put out into the deep (Luke 5:1-11)
Last year, in the autumn sunshine, I had the great joy of sitting beside the beautiful sheet of water that the Bible varyingly calls the Sea of Tiberias and the Lake of Gennesaret. Iy lies nearly 700 feet below sea level and not many people live there today, but in Jesus’s day nine large towns clustered round its shores. I was just a few yards from Simon Peter’s house, where Jesus had recently healed Peter’s mother in law, and preached to great effect in the nearby synagogue in Capernaum, the ruins of which are which still remarkably preserved to this day.
As I watched the sunlight dancing on its surface I listened to the sound of the same waters lapping that Jesus was so familiar with, I thought about that remarkable event which played itself out by the lake shore one morning when people were pressing around Him, eager to hear the word of God, fulfilling the prophesy of Jacob concerning Him, “unto Him shall the gathering of the people be.” (Gen. 49:10)
When He was 12, Jesus had disputed with the heavyweight theological doctors of the law, now at 30 we find Him preaching to the multitudes. It is true that He began in the synagogues, but He was here by the lakeside now because the synagogue was not large enough to accommodate all those who wanted to hear Him, the time would soon come when the doors would be shut to Him and He would be obliged to go to where the people were, just as countless souls owe their spiritual salvation to John Wesley consenting, as he put it, to becoming ‘more vile’ and to do the very thing his nature least relished – preaching in the open air.
Because He was standing by the lakeside, most people would not have been able to see Jesus. I owe my salvation to a message by David Watson, which I heard from behind a pillar at the back of a packed church in Oxford, totally unable to see the man who was speaking to my heart. But Jesus saw an opportunity to convey His message more clearly.
Two fishing boats belonging to Simon Peter and Andrew, and James and John, were drawn up on the beach, and these men were now doing what fishermen have done through the ages whether or not they have caught anything; they were washing their nets. Perhaps their hearts may well have been sad; their night’s fishing had yielded nothing and their livelihood depended on a full catch. As Rees Howells used to say that there is nothing so overwhelming to handle as financial liability.
Jesus could have made their needs His first priority as He had done at the wedding in Cana when the wine ran out, but He knew that His primary mission was to preach and declare the kingdom of God. I love the fact that He sat down in the boat to teach them; rather than standing to impress and dominate them as so many preachers through the ages have done.
As we all know, Jesus stepped into one of the boats and asked Peter to put out a little way onto the lake so that it became a floating preaching platform. These people were certainly hungry and biting even if the fish in the lake weren’t, and He didn’t allow anything to deter Him from putting Kingdom matters first. May the Lord help us to find creative and ingenious solutions to the situations that we face – they are often closer than we at first imagine.
So when He had finished speaking, Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” He hadn’t forgotten about the needs of these men any more than He forgets about ours; and He gave them specific instructions on what to do next, just as He often does to us.
From the moment He met them Jesus stretched and tested the faith of these men who were about to become His committed disciples. On the face of it what He was asking them to do didn’t make any sense at all, but I love how readily they responded. They could so easily have retorted, “Oh come on, Jesus, everyone knows that the night is the best time for fishing.”
You must have noticed how following the Lord usually involves lowering our pride to the point where He is able to take over and do things the way He is showing us. Greatly to their credit, they didn’t argue the toss, but trusted this man who they had already seen touching many in the district; without more ado they did what He told them to do and took their boats back out on the water. Incidentally, that’s not a two minute job; those Galilean fisher boats are anything but one-man skiffs; it takes several people to manhandle them.
The fact is that some people’s jobs are far more physically or spiritually challenging than others; as Matthew Henry puts it, “when we have rested all night let us not forget those who have toiled all night.” Those who are going to be excellent soldiers and disciples for Christ must be prepared to endure much hardship.
Ecclesiastes 11:4 warns us that those who that those who watch the wind will not plant; and whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. In other words, if we hang around for a perfect set of circumstances, we may never begin at all. But when Jesus bids us to attempt the impossible we must take Him at his word and put out into the deep.
Because trust is what Jesus is looking for, it is so very pleasing to Him when we respond as Peter did, “Because you say so, Lord, I’ll let down my nets,” or whatever it is He is asking us to do. It really does come down to the words of the old hymn, “Then . . . we’ll walk by His side in the way; What He says we will do, where He sends we will go; Never fear, only trust and obey. Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”