Wandering into Deep Water

Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Pastor Jason Bryan-Wegner

Luke 5:1-11

Our series during these midweek services is called Wandering Hearts. It speaks to the very real experience of figuring out faith and trusting Jesus, as we figure out life each day we live it. You see, faith is not something we possess, it’s a living gift that moves and changes with us throughout our lives. To help guide us, we’ll follow the disciple Peter, through the ups and downs in his faith and relationship with Jesus. Our hope is that these midweek services give you permission to see the ways Jesus moves with you through the wandering ways of faith, and that you can grow to trust that Jesus really is with you in the wandering.

Read the text…

Let’s pray…

When I was younger, and not so familiar with the Bible, I often thought the people in the Bible were waaaaay too holy and faithful to relate to. I mean, if they followed Jesus, wouldn’t they have to practically be perfect? (pause)

Then, I actually read the Bible and I found all kinds of people who followed God as imperfectly as most of us do. The disciples don’t always get what Jesus is teaching. They don’t always like what he is saying. They aren’t always willing to stick with him when the going gets tough. Characters in the Bible show us the beautifully imperfect path of faith, which only highlights the goodness and grace of God for us all the more.

Peter is a prime example of an all too human and relatable character. He’s not fancy or pretentious. He just says yes to Jesus’ invitation, even though he really had no idea what that would get him into. Along the way, his faith wanders all over the place. He’s all in with Jesus one minute and he’s a doubting, denying mess the next. But no matter how messy it gets he gets back in the boat with Jesus and pushes out into deep water.

When you think of deep water, what do you think of? Is it scary? Mysterious? Full of adventure? Navigating deep waters involves some skill and familiarity. I learned to scuba dive a couple years ago, and I have never been more fascinated with the deep waters of the ocean. But as kids deep water can be scary. My family has a place on a lake that my grandparents built in the 50s. The beach is sandy and the descent into the water is gradual – until you get out past the dock. When I was a kid the end of the dock marked the “drop-off” where the water went from about 5 feet to 25 feet very quickly. Any kid swimming at the lake had to know where the drop-off was and know that they either needed to be a strong enough swimmer or had to have some kind of floatation device on them to get anywhere near the end of the dock.

Peter knew deep water. He was a skilled fisherman. It was nothing new to him. So, when Jesus asked him to go out into those deep waters, it seemed almost like a bother. He’d already been there and found nothing that night. As Peter heard Jesus’ request, he was probably in a bit sour. I can imagine he was worried about how he’d provide for his family that week, or concerned about his and his partners’ reputation as fishermen. Maybe he had a tough nut father-in-law, who thought his daughter deserved better. And this empty-netted night was evidence of it. Whatever the case, he responds to Jesus with a tone of defeat. Those deep waters spelled nothing but trouble.

“Master, we’ve been fishing all night, but have caught nothing!”

But putting out into deep water with Jesus is a whole other thing.

The first thing we learn from Peter is when we wander into deep water with Jesus, we should expect different results. And sometimes those results will overwhelm us.

I’m sure this has happened to you, where you’ve tried a hundred times to make something like a printer or a computer app work and the longer you try alone the more frustrated you get. Then you finally call someone to help, and all they do is show up and it works right away…it’s times like these when we can be both so frustrated and grateful at the same time.

Peter is so overwhelmed by what happens when Jesus is with them that he feels unworthy and undeserving of the abundance of fish. He won’t be able to just feed his family for a day, he’ll be able to feed the whole village!

Have you ever admired someone so much that you’ve been almost paralyzed in their presence? Maybe that’s Peter’s experience when Jesus causes such a huge catch of fish. Or maybe he had seen or heard what Jesus had been doing and was in such awe of Jesus, that he couldn’t even believe that someone so amazing would approach him in the first place. Whatever the case, Peter’s first real encounter with Jesus goes sideways pretty quickly. Rather than graciously thanking Jesus, he babbles about how he’s a sinner and unworthy of such a ridiculously generous amount of fish.

And here’s the remarkable thing…Jesus calls him anyway. Jesus, sees Peter’s obvious awkwardness, his sometimes crabby attitude, his reluctant obedience, and nonetheless says, “Don’t be afraid, just follow me.”

If this is the case for Peter, don’t you think it is also the case for us? Jesus seeks us out too and invites us to wander into the deep waters of faith with him. There, he offers us something wildly amazing, a life beyond what we could imagine, a life that will bless us and challenge us, that will change us and change the world – and he offers it fully knowing we will offer him less than our best selves, sometimes. That we will follow awkwardly, and sometime begrudgingly. And he will love us still. So, be like Peter. Drop your nets. And follow. Amen.

Past Sermons