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Encountering Jesus Christ

Encountering Jesus Christ
Doug Floyd
January 20, 2011 @ Knox Academy

To study Christ, to hear Christ, to learn Christ, begins with Christ coming, speaking, acting. Let us listen to the teachers who taught us to follow Christ. Let us look to the people whose lives and words are witnesses to Jesus Christ. Let us look back and listen to the first disciples.

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
(Luke 5:1-11 ESV)

Listen to the opening words of our passage, “On one occasion.”

On one occasion, Jesus climbed a mountain.

On one occasion, he gave water to the woman at the well.

On one occasion, he ate with Zacchaeus.

On one occasion, he stepped onto Peter’s boat.

In the life of Jesus, we behold God entering and transforming people on each occasion.

Tonight is one occasion. And Christ has stepped into our lives to change them forever.

Our story opens with a sense of contingency. In other words, this story didn’t have to happen. Jesus freely chooses to step onto boat. Jesus freely speaks the Word of God. Jesus freely breaks in to Peter’s world.

The crowds are pressing in on Jesus. He’s standing by the lake. He sees two boats. He gets in one boat. Did he have to get in that boat? The text doesn’t indicate that. Were the disciples begging him to climb in the boat? Were the disciples holding a prayer meeting, seeking for Jesus to climb on their boat?

No. They’ve finished a fruitless night of fishing. They’re cleaning their nets. And on one occasion Jesus steps onto one boat. He didn’t have to step onto that boat. But he did.

On one occasion, he entered the life of Simon. And Peter was forever changed.

Now before we continue, let’s go back to the first line of our story. The passage opens, “On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God…” Jesus is preaching. Jesus is teaching. Jesus is surrounded.

They press in to hear the Word of God.

….man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
(Deuteronomy 8:3 ESV)

Israel is literally in the desert. The children of the children who wandered across the wilderness, are wandering across the wilderness. They live under subjection to Rome. The once glorious kingdom, the hope of the nations, lies in a desert.

These tired, thirsty people press in to hear the Word of God.

the poor and needy seek water,
and there is none,
and their tongue is parched with thirst, (Isaiah 41:17 ESV)

The world was created, ordered and is sustained through the Word of God.

All creation is pressing in to hear the Word of God.

Humans were created in the image of God. His Word is the Breath that enlivens our clay forms.

All humanity is pressing in to hear the Word of God.

Even in our rebellion, we cannot live outside the Life giving Word of God. In His lovingkindess, our Father sustains all living things. He gives Breath even to the human who curse Him with that very breath.

Once we’ve tasted the sweetness of that Living Water. We thirst. We thirst. We thirst.

So we press in to hear the Word of God.

Even now, even hear, we are pressing in to hear the Word of God.

In our story, we see the Lord answer His people. The God of Israel does not forsake them. Jesus speaks, and when he speaks, they hear “the Word of God.” This is the first time Luke uses, the phrase “Word of God.” He uses the phrase in the way of the prophets, in the way of Moses. Moses speaks the “Word of God” to the people. In speaking, he creates the nation.

His creating and sustaining Word calls them out of Egypt. He calls them out of death. He calls them out of slavery. He speaks the “Word of God” and the nation of Israel is formed. The land, the people, and the heart are created and sustained by the Word of God.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
(Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV)

Jesus speaks the Word of God, and it does not return void. The people hear water for their thirsty souls. They press in for more. Pressed in by an ocean of thirsty people, Jesus steps onto the boat, finishes speaking to the crowd and then turns to Simon Peter,

“Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

It’s the light of day. His command makes no sense. You cannot catch fish in the light day. And yet, he turns to Simon Peter,

“Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

They’ve fished all night. They’re cleaning the nets. They’re getting ready to go home. And yet he turns to Simon Peter and says,

“Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

The fish are not biting. Peter explains the situation to Jesus, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! And yet, he turns to Simon Peter and says,

“Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

The only response to the command of Christ is obedience.

Jesus speaks. Peter obeys. The nets burst. The boats almost sink.

Peter falls to his knees.

The weight of God’s glory breaks forth in Peter’s life. In his humiliation, he hears the word of consolation.

“Fear not!”

Like Isaiah, like Zechariah, like the Shepherds, like Mary, like Joseph, like a long history of saints before and after, he hears, “Fear not!” from the Lord.

This encounter with the Lord, with Jesus is sheer surprise. One moment Peter is cleaning his nets, the next moment he is falling before the face of Christ. He does not grasp this mystery. But in this mystery Christ grasps him.

Christ gathers Peter, James and John to himself. Our Lord is a gatherer. He gathered Abraham to himself, calling him to leave everything behind and follow. He gathers the Hebrews slaves to himself. He promises to gather all nations to himself.

The church, the ekklesia literally means the “called out ones” or the gathered ones. We are here tonight because Christ has gathered us. He has called us. He is present.

How do we study Jesus Christ? By His Grace alone. We cannot grasp our Lord. But he can grasp us. He can teach us. And like the disciples we can respond.

Peter, James and John leave everything behind and follow him.

Tonight is one occasion.

Even as we proclaim Christ, He is breaking in to our lives.

Let us press in to hear the Word of God.

Let us obey the call of Christ.

Let us, “Leave everything behind and follow him.”

Categories: Christianity
  1. January 21, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Beautiful, Doug! To quote Ray Anderson, “Grace presupposes barrenness.” It was Sarah’s barrenness that was the key to Abraham’s faith. 90 years of disappointment and broken dreams, and then ex nihilo springs “Laughter.” Moses knew this barrenness well–40 years as a fugitive, living on borrowed land, tending a flock he didn’t own; he’s an 80 year old man with a speech impediment, and he is the one who is called to “speak” to Pharaoh and “call” humanity back to life.

    Ever thought of this? Every moment of human speech is a parable, a sign of creatio ex nihilo. Where does the sound come from? What precedes it? It just issues forth, we hear and respond.

    Thanks,

    Ben

  2. ginger
    January 21, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    I AM THANKFUL THAT I CAN KNOW A GOD,SON,AND SPIRIT WHO DESIRE TO GET UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL.I AM SO UNDSERVING,IT DOES NOT SEEM TO MATTER.WHAT GOOD NEWS THAT NEVER DULLS!

  3. Ignatius
    June 27, 2011 at 5:28 am

    I am humbled to know that God sacrifice so much to teach us his word.

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