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Posts Tagged ‘Simon’

Jo 12I well remember how, as a child, I was at times particularly averse to being told what to do. If my poor mother wanted me to do something I did not want to do, my response would often be ‘But why?’ I would keep asking this until my mother, in exasperation, would eventually snap, ‘Because I said so!’

Perhaps that’s why a certain phrase jumped out at me recently when I read Luke’s account of the calling of Jesus’ first disciples. After Jesus sits in Simon’s fishing boat and teaches the crowd on the shore of the lake, he tells Simon to head for deep water and let down the nets. Then Simon replies:

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

No wonder Simon respected Jesus enough even then to do whatever Jesus told him to do. After all, Jesus had just healed many people while in Simon’s home, including Simon’s own mother-in-law. But Simon soon becomes much more astonished when his fishing nets start to break and both his and his partners’ boats begin to sink from their enormous catch. In fact, in fear, he falls at Jesus’ knees and says “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (8) It’s almost as if he is saying, ‘What have I got myself into? I can’t handle this!’ But Jesus reaches out and reassures him, so much so that he and his partners James and John end up leaving their boats and following him:

Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” (10)

Recently, I learnt how a newcomer to our country heard this story for the first time while fishing in the Parramatta River. He laughed loudly at the idea of catching men—yet now he has begun a journey just like Simon’s and we hope his mind will also soon be boggled by Jesus’ awesome power and authority. But what about my own response to Jesus’ authority? What is Jesus calling me to do in 2020? Am I going to say like Simon, ‘Because you say so, I will do this or that?’ Or will I instead curl up in fear and decide not to let down my own ‘nets’ in the coming year?

I have always felt Jesus’ gentleness and love, as well as his quiet authority, whenever he has challenged me to step out and do something. And this was particularly strong when I began my current novel. Back then, I sensed Jesus saying, ‘I’ll be so delighted if you write this book, Jo-Anne. But I’ll be just as delighted with you if you don’t!’ What wonderful freedom that gave me—simply to write as time permitted and enjoy the process, irrespective of the outcome! Yet surely this is Jesus’ heart for us all in whatever he calls us to do. Jesus has the power and authority to call us to act—and we need to listen and be obedient. Yet it seems to me he also surrounds us with such love and grace and mercy, however we respond.

‘But because you say so …’. May that be my honest response—and yours—as we embrace all God has for us in the coming year.

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I wonder if you’re like me and don’t greatly relish being told what to do at times.  Of course, it depends on who’s doing the telling – and what the context is.  But in general, I like to make my own mind up about things.

I remember my poor mother telling me more than once in an exasperated tone when I questioned why I had to do this or that: ‘Because I said so!’  I vowed I’d never say this to our own children – and yet they tell me I certainly did!  So perhaps it was because of all this that I noticed this same phrase recently in Luke’s Gospel.

In Chapter 5, the picture is painted for us of Jesus getting into Simon’s boat on the Sea of Galilee and asking him to pull out from the shore, so he can teach the word of God more easily from there to the people crowding around him.  Simon does that, but in verse 4 we read that when Jesus had finished speaking, he told him:

Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.

It seems Simon almost baulks at this.  You can hear the resignation in his voice as he replies:

Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.  But because you say so, I will let down the nets.

‘Because you say so’ – that was the clincher for him.  Simon seems to have seen and heard enough from Jesus to know that obeying him might be a good idea.  And sure enough, in the next few verses we read how they caught so many fish that the nets began to break.  They signalled to their partners in another boat to come and help – and as they hauled in all the fish, both boats began to sink! The passage ends with Simon Peter falling down in astonishment and awe before Jesus, as does his partners.  Then they pull their boats up on the shore, leave everything and follow him.

How would it be if we all had that same response to Jesus?  How would it be if I listened carefully every time to what Jesus tells me to do and then hopped straight in and did it?  Sometimes I do.  But sometimes I rationalise or procrastinate or am just plain disobedient too.

So this coming year, obedient to this prompting from God’s word, I’m choosing to say: ‘Lord, because you say so, I will “let down the nets” for another year with my writing and speaking.  I will put myself out there, so others can hear and respond to you, as you have gifted me – and I will leave the results to you.

May you hear God’s word for you too in 2010 – and may your nets be full to overflowing!

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