Get Out of that Boat!
Have you ever been walking through a store and think you heard someone call out to you. Or sitting in church and what the pastor is saying seems directed right at … you. He is so right on, you begin to shift in your seat. Also, there are those times, when reading the bible and a verse or two will literally fly off the page, with neon lighting and begin to flash at you. (if it doesn’t – you need the new neon red Get in Your Face Version – just kidding!)
Recently I began a new study in preparation for my time with the ladies in the fall. I am looking at the account of the calling of the first disciples by Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:14-20, and Luke 5:1-11). I read the account as I have in the past, but something stood out to me this time. Besides Matthew and Mark’s accounts are almost identical, Luke in his usual detailed way, gives much more explanation. There is the boat.
First Matthew and Mark’s story:
Jesus is walking along side the Sea of Galilee, and sees Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew fishing and calls out to them, ‘come, follow Me and I will make you fishers of men’. These fisherman left their nets and followed Him. It goes on to say, a short distance away He also saw James and John (they too were brothers), they were with their father Zebedee and some hired men. In a boat, they were working on their nets. Jesus called them. They crawled out of the boat left their father and followed Jesus.
When I read these stories I try to picture myself there, in this case – on the sea shore, with the sounds, the smells and the view. As James and John crawled out of the boat, I paused and seemed to look around, wondering why, why they were the only ones getting out of the boat. Zebedee and the hired men were there also in the boat.
It says that Jesus saw Peter and Andrew, James and John. It says nothing about calling them by name. The region they were in was a well populated fishing area, so there were many folks around.
Luke’s account explains it this way:
Jesus saw Peter’s boat and asked to be put a short distance out in the water, where He began to teach the crowd. When Jesus finished teaching He told Peter to go out into deeper water and throw his nets in. After doing so, the nets were full of fish, so much so, he had to have his associates (Andrew, James and John) help bring the nets in. Peter was so overwhelmed by this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and exclaimed ‘Go away from me, Lord, I am a sinful man’. You see it says that they had fished all night and caught nothing. Jesus said to Peter, ‘Don’t be afraid, from now on you will catch men’. Following that, they went to shore, they climbed out of the boat – Peter included and followed Jesus.
What fascinates me in this story is Jesus calling these men while they were out doing their job, the day in – day out routine. Yet, they knew Jesus was talking to … them. Maybe Jesus looked them right in the eyes. James and John don’t seem to hesitate and leave, leaving their father and hired hands behind. Yet why did Zebedee and the hired hands stay in the boat, while two of the crew, the sons crawled out. I wonder if James and John, said out loud to one another, ‘why isn’t anyone else getting out of their boats?’ Notice nothing stopped them as the climbed down and out.
As I thought of this, I sensed the Lord calling us out, we too may be among many, in our own boats… our boats may represent security, just as it did for the fisherman. Leaving the boat meant, the brothers were leaving their father, a sense of authority in their lives, the hired hands, who shared the responsibilities. Not to mention, leaving their boat meant their lively hoods. Leaving the boat meant the ‘unknown’.
We don’t know for sure why the others stayed, but we do know that in Jesus calling James, John, Peter and Andrew, He called them into an intense time of training, One on one with the Master.
We too have been called out by the Master to follow HIM, while others are still in the boat… we are to get out and follow! Who do we see again later… take a risk and crawl out of the boat … Peter (love that dude). Matthew 14:22-32 , Jesus comes walking on the water and Peter calls out to Him, what does Jesus again say… ‘Come’. Twice Peter left the boat, where did he aim as he left the boat? Jesus!
There are many excuses we use, in not following Jesus. Remember the young rich man, Jesus said ‘sell all you have, give it to the poor and follow Me’. The young man went away sad. Interesting it doesn’t say ‘mad’, he was sad, he knew his wealth meant way to much to him. (Matt. 19:16-22) How about the men to whom Jesus said ‘follow Me’ as they were walking along on a road, one man’s response, was ‘let me go bury my father first’… the other ‘first let me go back and say good-by to my family’. (Luke 9:57-62). Notice, they all wanted to go ‘back’ to something, someone. Jesus has heard and seen it all.
May we too become ‘boat leavers’, not boat lovers, staying put, and not budging. Let’s take a risk, leave our safe place, step out and follow HIM! He is waiting. I think Peter gets a bad rap for getting fearful while out on the water, but stop the scene… where is he? He is out of the boat. The only one who got out, took a chance and headed for Jesus. Verse 31, ‘Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him’ (Peter). No better place to be than in the arms of Jesus when we fall.
Have a God-loving, getting out of that boat, week.
In Him, DeDe (Ps. 92:4 You thrill me, LORD…)