Introduction to the Divine
How can one define God? What does God look like? What are the attributes of God? Well, one cannot come to a conclusion as to who God is without God himself taking the initiative to reveal himself to us. In the OT scripture, God revealed himself through the history of Israel, through various attributes that he revealed to the Patriarchs. For example, one of the attributes of God’s nature is truth. Firstly, God is truth. Another of the attributes of God’s nature is omniscience. God knows everything. He is divine. Thirdly, God is Almighty God, all powerful God. Another of God’s attributes is God is holy. God is by nature merciful. When one comes to the NT, we find all these qualities of God revealed in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Luke 5: Jesus is Messiah
Now Luke is writing to show his readers that Jesus is the Messiah. Firstly, the angels testify that Jesus is the Messiah. Secondly, we have the testimony of men. Thirdly, at the baptism of Jesus we have the testimony of the Trinity that Jesus is the Messiah. Finally, in Luke 3 we have the testimony of genealogy that Jesus is the Son of David. In Luke 4, Jesus is engaged in a conflict with the devil and He is tested as to His ability to resist temptation. Then the Son of God heals sickness and in chapter 4, Luke portrays the attributes of God revealed in Jesus, the Son of God.
Luke 5: Historical Fishing Record
Luke 5 is a historical record about fishing. Jesus was in the lake of Gennesaret, usually called the Sea of Galilee. People were pressing around Him. It was early in the day. Peter, James and John had fished the whole night but could not even catch a single fish. At Jesus’ word, they cast their nets into the deep and came a bumper catch of fish. In this passage we can find the divine nature of Jesus. We find Jesus having every quality that is attributed to God in the OT. We also find how this fully human, but fully divine Jesus is willing to work with sinful mankind who turn to him.
1One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Jesus had been healing everybody of every disease that was brought to Him. Luke 4:40-41 40At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.
Luke 5:1 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. Jesus started his public at Galilee in the north, Capernaum very close to the Sea of Galilee. In Luke 4 Jesus exercised his power over the kingdom of darkness. Jesus exercises his power over disease. He had drawn a tremendous crowd. Jesus was drawing great crowds and they were pressing against Him. In Luke 5, Jesus is by the Lake of Gennesaret, also called as the Sea of Galilee or the Sea of Tiberius.
Luke 5:2-3 2He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
Jesus used Peter’s boat to speak. The voice bounces off the water and it makes it easier for the people sort of on the panorama of the hillside to hear what He’s saying. Teaching was primary in Jesus’ ministry. It was fine to do miracles, but miracles alone wouldn’t bring people into the kingdom of God. It was fine to cast out demons, but casting out of demons alone wouldn’t bring people into the kingdom of God. The only thing that would bring people into the kingdom of God was the knowledge of the gospel, the knowledge of the truth. And so the primary ministry of Jesus was a ministry of teaching.
What was Jesus teaching? Luke 4:43
Luke 5:1 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He spoke the word of God.
1. DIVINE TRUTH
Jesus is the source of divine truth. When Jesus opened his mouth it was God speaking. Jesus is the source of divine truth or divine wisdom. It was the good news that the prisoners of sin could be set free by forgiveness, good news that the spiritually blind could be given sight, good news that the spiritually oppressed would be liberated, good news of forgiveness, salvation and eternal life. And when Jesus preached it, it was coming from God.
2. DIVINE KNOWLEDGE
Jesus is the source of divine Knowledge.
GOSPEL OF LUKE
Luke 5:4-6 4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” 5Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.
Well normally, you don’t go fishing in the daytime in that hot place where the sun burns on the top of the water. The fish go down very, very deep and below the capability of the nets and away from the shore and that’s not the time you want to fish. They fish at night.
Luke 5:5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
“Lord, there aren’t any fish out there, we’ve been there. There’s no point in fishing in the daytime. Secondly, there’s no point in fishing here because we fished all night and the fish aren’t here. But at Your command I will let down the nets.”
Listen, Simon calls Him Master, which recognizes that the Lord is the chief. He is the CEO of his fishing business, but he puts God and his word above him and calls him the master.
These nets that were used out in the deep places could stretch around half a KM in length. Now the top was floated by cork and the bottom had weights and it created a wall of net. One boat would take the net to its extreme point and then circle back, then come back to join the other boat and they would begin to winch in the ropes on the top and the bottom and just pull in everything that was there. That’s how they fished. It was a tremendous physical effort. And it really wasn’t something you wanted to do during the day if you had done it all night, and you knew there weren’t any fish.
Luke 5:6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.
They caught a great quantity of fish. Jesus knew where the fish were. He has supernatural knowledge. He knows what nobody knows. This is God.
GOSPEL OF MARK
In the gospel of Mark 14, it was time for the Passover and Jesus wanted to have a place to celebrate the Passover because there were pilgrims in Jerusalem and they needed to rent a room. So, Jesus sent His disciples, two of them, into Jerusalem and He said this to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water.” Don’t talk to him, just follow him and wherever he enters go in and say to the owner of the house. “The teacher says where is My guestroom in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?” Jesus knew about this house. He knew that it had a proper room for them to have the Passover. He knew about a man who would be going to that house with a pitcher that he was carrying. This is supernatural knowledge.
GOSPEL OF JOHN
In John 1:47, Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him and said: John 1:47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”
Jesus has met him for the first time, but He identifies him and knows his character Nathanael said to Him: John 1:48-49 48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
You are the Son of God, or God the Son. Only God can see people who are out of human vision. Only God knows the character of somebody they’ve never met. Jesus is omniscient according to Psalm 139.
Jesus never needed information about people. He knew what they were like. He knew what was in their mind, what was in their heart because He knew and knows everything. From the beginning to the end of everything Jesus knows it all.
He knows every sparrow that hops, every butterfly that flies, every worm that wriggles, and every man that lives. He knows your name. He knows everything about you. Our God has divine knowledge.
All of a sudden Peter is literally shocked by the realization that Jesus knows what nobody knows.
3. DIVINE POWER
Jesus is the source of Divine Power. It’s one thing to know where the fish are. It’s another thing to have the power to gather them all at one point.
Luke 5:6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.
They caught a great quantity of fish; so much that the nets began to literally snap. Typically fishermen who fished in that area knew what the normal catch would be and they designed capable nets that would be able to handle the catch. Nothing like this had ever happened. They were seeing an expression of divine power because there’s no explanation for the volume of fish.
Luke 5:9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken. It simply means shock.
Now, back in Chapter 4, couple of times people were amazed.
Luke 4:22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
Luke 4:36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!”
Now they’re amazed at His power expressed over nature.
When the nets began to break, they signaled to their partners in the other boat. Luke 5:6-7 6When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
They called for their partners to deal with this massive catch.
Luke 5:7 ..they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. The catch is so massive that it literally goes beyond anything they have ever anticipated because their nets can’t contain it and their boats can’t hold it. It’s just without human explanation.
Jesus is the embodiment of divine power. The galaxies and the nature worship him.
Nehemiah 9:6 You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.
Psalm 62:11 One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God.”
Peter knew it. He knew exactly what he was dealing with. He was dealing with one who was the source of truth, one who knew everything that could be known and one who had power. He was dealing with truth, omniscience and omnipotence.
4. DIVINE HOLINESS
Jesus is the source of holiness.
Luke 5:8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”
When Simon Peter saw the divine display, when he saw his power, he knew in whose presence he stood. Fishing was Peter’s thing, but this was not fishing. This was supernatural.
Peter had heard Jesus teaching about the kingdom. He had heard Jesus teaching about repentance and salvation and forgiveness. Now the Lord got Peter to the place of recognizing his sinfulness.
Peter had his initial call as recorded in John 1. There was a confirmation of that initial call to follow Jesus recorded in Matthew 4 and Mark 1, parallel passages. But in neither of those passages is there any discussion on Peter’s part about his sinfulness. But now Peter knows something. Whoever he thought Jesus was when they first met, whoever he thought Jesus was at that second confirmation, whoever he thought Jesus was in the synagogue, and whoever he thought he was at home when He healed his mother-in-law, and whoever he thought he was when he was teaching that day on the shore at the lake, now there are no doubts for this moment, that this is God because verse 8 says when he saw that he fell at Jesus’ feet. This is the prostration of a worshiper because he is sinful.
THE REASON JESUS CAME
This is the reason Jesus came, to make men realize that we are sinners. This is exactly the kind of attitude Jesus is looking for today in true worshipers when people come to him. We do not come in confidence, but an attitude of brokenness that I am a sinner and I have the boldness to go to Jesus because He receives sinners.
Luke always refers to Simon Peter as Simon, up until chapter 6 verse 14, when you have the listing of the apostles. After that He always refers to him as Peter. Here Luke refers to Peter as Simon Peter. I think this is where Simon becomes Peter. This is the place of his real transformation. This is the first time in the gospel of Luke that someone is brought to the recognition of their sinfulness. He is stunned by the presence of God and is only aware then of his sin because he knows if he can see God, God can see him and he sees holiness and God sees sin.
Anyone who has an encounter with the Lord has the understanding of their sinfulness and are frightened.
In Mark 4:41 when Jesus was in the boat and they said, “We’re going to drown.” And He calmed the storm and they were afraid. Storm was fearful but it was far more frightening to have God in your boat then have a storm outside. They were terrified. They knew they were dealing with God.
Isaiah said: Isaiah 6:5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
Exodus 20:19 ….the people… said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
You see, the overwhelming sense of sin. That’s the publican or tax collector in Luke 18 beating his chest. He won’t even look up. He won’t lift his eyes. He’s afraid somehow that God might see who he is and he’s crying, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.”
Now in the terror of this moment Peter wants to send the Lord away, but the Lord wants to pull Peter closer. When Peter wants to run away, the Lord wants to embrace Peter. At the very point at which the sinner feels the most alienation is the point at which the Savior is seeking reconciliation. And here was Peter and his two buddies, James and John, wanting to run when Jesus wanted to embrace them and bring them closer to him.
5. DIVINE MERCY
Jesus is the source of divine mercy.
Luke 5:10 Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” Here’s where mercy takes you, “From now on you will be catching men.” This is wonderful. Isaiah feared that he would be destroyed. Instead he was called to preach. Peter feared that he would be destroyed, instead he was called to fish for people. You never have to be afraid to admit your sin, that is the point you receive God’s mercy.
Just at the point where you think you’re on the brink of condemnation because of your sin, you’re at the brink of reconciliation because of mercy.
Here is the formalizing of the call of Peter and James and John into that intimate inner circle that they enjoyed through the whole ministry of Jesus.
By the way, “you will be catching men,” interesting Greek word meaning is you are going to catch alive. They spent their life catching live fish which became dead. Now they’re going to catch men dead in sin and turn them to life in Christ.
It’s an astonishing mercy. Not only does God forgive the sinner who is overwhelmed by his sin in the presence of the holiness of God, God makes him alive.
Luke 5:11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
This is the catch of all catches. They could have bought more boats, more equipment. They are at the very pinnacle, here they are having made the catch of all catches in the history of fishing and it says they brought their boats to land, got out of the boats, left everything, followed Him.
Initially they had followed Him part-time and this was the full-time. The word followed is used in Luke as a technical term for discipleship.
That’s the message for you, friends. Jesus has appeared. He is God. He’s the source of truth, knowledge, power, holiness, mercy. Only God gives mercy to sinners. Only God calls sinners to reconciliation to Himself and commissions them to the great task of evangelism, catching men alive. This is God.
How about you? Have you come to that point in recognition of your own sin? God is calling you to embrace you. He is calling you to partner in saving the lost.