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Launch Out Into The Deep!

 A Fishing Lesson

Letter from Bro. Jed to Ghana Brethren

   Luke 5:1-11 “And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon Jesus to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret (Sea of Galilee). 2 And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. 4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 6 And when they had this done, they enclosed ajesus fishing with peter great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:10 And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. 11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.”
   Recently, I interviewed Paul, who spent ten years in Alaska as a commercial fisherman. He said, “Fishing with a pole is not my idea of fishing.” When I was in the business, we planned on catching a great haul of fish.” Paul cared not to fish for sport or for dining. He was in the business to make money.
   It occurred to me that Christians are often content to fish for a few men with a rod and reel instead of launching out into the deep with a boat to catch a multitude of men. Evangelism seems almost an occasional form of recreation or sport for church folks. Even church leaders often fail to take seriously Paul's admonition to the young pastor, Timothy, “But watch in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fully carry out your ministry (2 Timothy 4:5).”
   In the story of Peter's call, the sea represents the masses; men are to be caught in the net (symbolizing truth) and then dragged into the gospel ship. Why stand on the shore or a dock when one can launch out into the deep for a big catch? Christians can expect such a draft if we will but hear and obey Jesus' word.
   Billy Graham has retired from mass evangelism after following the examples of Billy Sunday and D.L. Moody. These men were successful in catching a multitude in their day. But their time is past. God is raising up in America, Ghana and other places, men who will boldly rise up against the evildoers, cry out against sin in the gates of the city and compel men to come into God's Kingdom. God is instructing evangelists to take the gospel to where the sinners are, not to simply invite a few here and there to an evangelistic service within the four walls of a church building.
   Even when Christians have the vision to use nets instead of a poles, their nets are often in need of washing and mending; they have become filthy or broken by a message which neglects to preach repentance or fails to call sinners to sanctification and discipleship.
   After Peter and Andrew and James and John brought their miraculous catch to land, they forsook all to follow Jesus. They were not content to sit on a bench or beach and hear the word; they became doers of the word.
   After Jesus' crucifixion the disciples, especially Peter, were demoralized. The risen Lord had to reaffirm the disciples calling, “As the father has sent me, even so send I you (John 20:21).”
   And why did Jesus come into the world? “The Son of man came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).”
   Even after Jesus reminded his disciples of their calling and did many signs among them, they were still irresolute. Peter determined to go back to his former employment, commercial fishing. When the fishing partners were gathered together at the Sea of Galilee, Peter said unto them, “I am going fishing.”
  brother Jed and Crowd James and John and probably Andrew responded, “We will also go with you.” So they climbed into a ship, launched out and fished all night but caught nothing. At dawn the Lord stood on the shore but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. He intended to teach them a final object lesson.
   Jesus asked the fishermen, “Children have you caught any meat?”
   They answered, “No.”
   Jesus said unto them, “Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.”
   They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. So the other disciples left the shore in a boat to help bring in the catch. Afterwards, Jesus served a fish fry for his disciples, who by now had figured out that he was the Lord.
   After their feast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” Jesus was asking, “Do you love me more than these fish? Do you appreciate my calling more than your former trade?” When Peter affirmed that he loved the Lord, Jesus exhorted him, “Feed my lambs.” To drive home his point to this stubborn man, Jesus asked Peter about his love three times and each time Peter affirmed his love and Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
   In other words, “Peter, demonstrate your love by your actions. Forget about catching fish and start catching the lost sheep of Israel.” Finally, after warning Peter that he would glorify God by dying as a martyr, Jesus simply said to Peter, “Follow me!” So Jesus’ first and last words to Peter are the same, “Follow me even unto death; the death of the cross.”
   My dear Ghana brethren, years ago I visited you to ask, “Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?”--Psalm 94:16. I then led you into the streets to preach and to heal the sick. I hear from our father, Peter Smith, that you have continued in your calling. Endure unto the end and ye shall reap a multitude of courageous men that can cover the continent of Africa, “crying aloud and sparing not and lifting up voices like a trumpet!”--Isaiah 58:1. Shout it from the housetops!

Your Servant,

Brother Jed Smock



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