Smartphones are powerful. Last week I mentioned that I am able to keep track of tasks with mine. But that’s just one of many things a smartphone can do. It is a calculator, a street navigator, an internet browser, an email sender, a calendar, an alarm clock, a music player, video watcher, camera, video recorder, flashlight, an Angry Bird launcher, a best price on gas station finder, a coupon clipper, a pack of cards, and a lightsaber. Believe it or not, I also think that you can call people up and talk to them, too.
Unless the little battery meter run outs. Then, it’s out of power. And, if you aren’t near a charger, your powerful cell phone has now left you powerless.
Jesus was powerful. He stopped storms, drove out demons, healed the sick, made the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, and the dead to rise.
Then, he died.
Suddenly, was he completely powerless? Sure, he came back from the dead, but did he have the same powers? This all took place 2000 some years ago. Is God still as powerful even today?
Jesus' disciples must have wondered the same thing. Yes, Jesus was back. They had seen him on a few different occasions. But each time they left, new questions must have formulated:
Had their leader changed? Had defeating death zapped him of his power? If his power was gone, how would that affect the missionary journeys they knew they were being commissioned to do?
Now, gentlemen, when you have a lot on your mind, what's a great way to relieve your mind? Fishing. Isn't it relaxing to head out on the peaceful lake away from the hustle and bustle of the city? You don't hear the traffic on Falls of Neuse nor do you smell the exhaust of all the commuters.
I'm sure there was a similar relief even at that time. Away from the marketplace. Away from the pressures of the Pharisees. Away from these nagging questions about their leader. So scripture says, "They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing."
Verse 4 tells us that early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples didn't realize it was Jesus. Verse 8 tells us that Jesus stood about 100 yards from the disciples. That isn't easy to identify someone from that distance. That's like looking across from endzone to endzone of the football field. Only hampered further by the dim morning light.
Jesus calls out to them, "Friends, do you have any fish? No," they replied. "6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”
I want you to note that there were a couple of things working against the disciples tossing the net back into the water:
For starters, they were men. Ladies, do men like to have people tell them what to do? Not often. We have a sense of manliness. We want to be successful by ourselves. We don't need strangers telling us how to fish.
That was probably amplified for the disciples. They were professionals! Remember: for at least 3 of the disciples on the trip, this had been a way of life. Peter, James, and John were all fishermen before Jesus had called them to be "fishers of men." So, I'll bet they knew what they were doing and didn't take a 'zero catch' morning lightly. Perhaps they cast the net in the shallows and then rowed out to the middle and dropped it deep. Maybe, one of the spotted a seaweedy area that looked like it had potential. They might have even lowered the net and 'trolled' in 1 first century, non motor fashion!
Now, they were tired. Time to head in. It just wasn't their day. And who was this guy? Unless it was some Bass Pro Shops professional or the Fishing Warden, they had no reason to listen to him. Besides he was 100 yards away. How could he see where the school of fish was? They were much closer and they didn't see anything!
Yet, there must have been authority in those words. Something about them that said, "You should listen." Scripture says that they cast the net as Jesus said and when they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
This was instantaneous. It was incredible. It was...a miracle. Which could only mean one thing!
Back in high school, I remember there was a tutor -- which is like an R.A. for the boarding school that I went to -- who always wore wind pants. I suppose that was nice for him because they were comfy and he was able to teach Phy Ed without much of a problem. But it was also nice for us. Because if we were 'up to no good,' the wind pants always gave us a bit of a warning. You'd hear 'swish-swish-swish' and you knew who was coming! Time to go back to studying.
Jesus had something that was unmistakable about him. He did miracles. Everywhere he went he healed people of diseases, stopped storms with his words, cast out demons. In fact, he had even caused the disciples to catch a miraculous amount of fish on one other occasion!
This meant that as soon as the fish miraculously filled the net, they knew who it was on the beach. It could only be the One.
John turned to Peter, "It is the Lord!" The Master. The Divine Authority. The miracle working ruler of the universe!
I know you can see the Lord, too. That beautiful sun outside is in orbit because the Lord is powerful. The rain came down around here on Friday, because the LORD is still powerful. The reason you and are alive today is because the LORD's almighty power is feeding us, taking care of us, and blessing us beyond our needs! God's promise of eternal life in Jesus still stands because the LORD is the only one powerful enough to back such an eternal promise up!
When the Apostle Peter realized who this was, listen to how he reacted: As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.
Notice it doesn't say that he decided to count the fish first. He didn't stop to muse on whether it was God or not. He didn't even offer to help bring the net in. No, he wanted to follow his Powerful Savior immediately. With reckless abandon he jumped into the deep and swam the 100 yards to shore. Bowing in worship to the Lord as he dripped with seawater.
What about you? The Lord is alive. He's still powerful. He's still the most powerful being in the universe. You'd think that we'd jump right into following him with a reckless abandon and passion.
But what usually happens?
This financial problem I've got is too powerful to overcome. I don't have time to worship the Lord. I need all my strength focused on paying the mortgage.
The media on TV is really powerful. They've been making Christians look like fools recently. I'll be safer if I simply delete "Christian" from my Facebook status. (And I better block all my friends who keep posting Bible passages...)
My relative is sick. Really sick. Yes, I suppose I could pray to the LORD, but what could he do? It's useless. Cancer is just too powerful.
My neighbor doesn't know about Jesus. I should tell them. But, the nervousness is just too powerful. I'll keep my religion to myself.
I know. I know. God is powerful. But my guilt is just too powerful. I can't believe that he could ever have taken away all of my sins. The things I did...they are too awful. Too powerfully awful.
Isn't it amazing? Rather than following God with reckless abandon, we generally follow God in a meek, quiet, secret at a distance, if I have the time type of following.
That's sin. It reflects at attitude that doubts God. It doubts who he is. It doubts that this absolutely powerful, making 143 large fish instantaneously appear in a net after indisputably rising from death on the cross can make a difference in our lives.
Repent of a such an attitude. Repent of your doubts. See who it is on the shore. See who it is calling out to you. See that it is the all powerful, divinely driven, nothing can stop him, indisputable champion of everything--Jesus Christ your Risen Lord!
A Lord that powerfully defeated not just one of the sinful times you doubted. Not just two of those sinful times, but all of those sinful times. In fact, he powerfully defeated all of your sins with his perfect life, innocent death, and triumphant resurrection.
In him you are (And this is a POWERFUL WORD) completely and utterly FORGIVEN!
Brothers and sisters, this Jesus is the powerful Lord calling out to you. And he’s still as powerful as ever! He still works miracles. He still holds the universe together. He still promises you that with faith in Him, he will defeat eternal death for you!
Jump in and recklessly follow him this summer. Here's two areas to work on doing just that:
1) Jump into his Word. Read through the whole Bible once. Maybe twice. Pick out one book and start every morning meditating on it. Join a Bible study. We got the Bible Basics challenge. Sign up and take that. Don't have time? Make time. Leave behind the powerfully busy life, for the powerfully busy God. I'm sure you can find some time for Jesus! Jump in and follow Him! (And moms and dads...take your family with you. Renew devotion. Renew bedtime Bible stories. Renew your dedication to bringing them to church!)
Which kind of goes hand in hand with the second way to recklessly follow Jesus:
2) Share the Gospel. Speak up on religious topics. Learn, relearn, practice, and share the simple message of Law and Gospel. Grab some of the business cards out back and invite your relatives to church. (Then offer to pick them up.) Share Bible readings and devotions with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for one of the upcoming summer canvassing days. Speak to the visitors at church and encourage them in their faith! Jump in and follow Jesus by immersing yourself in Evangelism like never before!
There's no need to be afraid! There is no one more powerful than the one you'll be following!
And you know what? There will be more blessings than you've even imagined!
Take Peter for instance. He had just seen the net filled with fish. That was enough. He swam in to see Jesus.
Then, can you believe what he saw next? Verse 9, "When they landed, a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread...Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast."
I love this. Jesus just gave them a miraculous catch of 153 fish. That's probably enough for breakfast. Yet, when the disciples pull up, there is more fish..already being cooked for a meal.
Jesus' power is incredible and it produces abundant blessings!
Trust me. When you follow Jesus, you will receive abundant blessings! Now it may not be a net full of fish. It may not even be a wallet full of money, a portfolio full of career accomplishments, or a body full of health.
But it will be a spirit full of peace. A life full of grace. A promise full of truth. A heaven full of God's eternal, awesome, indisputable, undefeated powerful keeping you in his awesome presence for all eternity!
May this powerful Lord hold us in his powerful love. Amen.