The First Step

Text Luke 5:4-6 “Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 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. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.”

Having been overcome by the magnitude of the masses, Jesus found it necessary to get into a ship and distance himself from them so that he might declare unto them the Word of God. Finished with the declaration, Jesus turned and spoke personally to Simon Peter; “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” At first glance it is possible to miss the magnitude of what Jesus is asking Peter to do! It is not just the fact that Jesus is asking Peter to encompass a massive haul of fishes in a single act, but He is asking Peter to be successful on the heels of total failure; “we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing.” Peter not only experienced minimal failure, but rather utter failure! Peter is saying, “We have labored all night to the point of physical and mental fatigue and I have yet to take hold one fish of any size or description; the only thing that we have successfully done is dirty our nets creating more work for ourselves!”

It is at this point that things are about to turn around for Peter and his crew. Peter’s recovery began with the acknowledgement of corporate failure: “we have . . . have taken nothing.” There are two aspects to the first step that I want to magnify. Please note Peter’s willingness to acknowledge his problem; “have taken nothing.” One will find it difficult to get or receive help until one is willing to acknowledge the fact that they have a problem! I am of the opinion that one of the greatest deterrents to experiencing revival is the fact that most don’t see their need for it! Snared by the deceptive spirit of apathy, the nominal Christian, if there is such a thing, is poised to conduct business as usual; “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing” (Revelation 3:17). The masses of Christianity are much like Samson; “And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him” (Judges 16:20). Pause for a moment and ask yourself one question, “What one thing could I have not accomplished this week had it not been for the personal intervention of God?” We must not only acknowledge that we have a problem, but the sooner we recognize the need, the easier it is to fix. David should have recognized he had a problem when he failed to accompany his troop into battle (see II Samuel 11). Even a common soldier like Uriah knew that wasn’t right; “The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing” (vs.11). The man after God’s own heart should have known he had a problem when he attempted to satisfy a natural desire in an unlawful manner; “the woman was very beautiful to look upon . . . and took her; and she came in unto him” (vs.2-4). The sooner David realized he had a problem, the easier it would have been to correct! Do you see any early signs of a problem in your life?

Please note Peter’s willingness to acknowledge his participation, “we have.” We know from the text that Peter had at least two partners that accompanied him in his endeavors to catch fish. Unlike so many of us, Peter was willing to accept responsibility for the failure. The fault wasn’t to be lain at John’s feet or James’ feet; the failure was corporate, as a unit we have failed in the endeavor of catching fish! It is this particular truth that most impresses me about Nehemiah. I think that it is possible that this young man was born in captivity and had never set foot in Jerusalem; at best he was but a child when carried away. Yet, when it came time to accept responsibility for the sin of a nation and the condemnation that followed, he said, “which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned” (Nehemiah 1:6). We quickly reveal the nature of our first birth in the likeness of the first Adam when we magnify the all the faults of others while remaining blind to our own; “And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat . . . And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” (Genesis 3:12-13). Are we willing to accept responsibility?

If we are to ever experience help, the first step is acknowledging our problem and our participation.