Inviting Unworthy Sinners: Luke 5:1-11

Focus Passage: Luke 5:1-11 (NCV)

One day while Jesus was standing beside Lake Galilee, many people were pressing all around him to hear the word of God. Jesus saw two boats at the shore of the lake. The fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Jesus got into one of the boats, the one that belonged to Simon, and asked him to push off a little from the land. Then Jesus sat down and continued to teach the people from the boat.

When Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Take the boat into deep water, and put your nets in the water to catch some fish.”

Simon answered, “Master, we worked hard all night trying to catch fish, and we caught nothing. But you say to put the nets in the water, so I will.” When the fishermen did as Jesus told them, they caught so many fish that the nets began to break. They called to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came and filled both boats so full that they were almost sinking.

When Simon Peter saw what had happened, he bowed down before Jesus and said, “Go away from me, Lord. I am a sinful man!” He and the other fishermen were amazed at the many fish they caught, as were 10 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will fish for people.” 11 When the men brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Jesus.

Read Luke 5:1-11 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

The official call of the earliest and closest disciples contains a fascinating conversation between Jesus and Simon Peter, the man who would ultimately become the most famous disciple. While Matthew and Mark simply include a shortened version of this event, Luke draws out all the details of what happened – and the miracle that changed the direction of these men’s lives.

The idea that is jumping off the page at me while I read this event is in Peter’s response to Jesus after they had finished hoisting the net full of fish into the boat. When Simon Peter realized what had just happened, Luke tells us that he bowed before Jesus and said, “Go away from me, Lord. I am a sinful man!” (v. 8)

Simon Peter realized after his earlier comment, which was full of doubt and perhaps even a little sarcastic, that Jesus was significant. At what was probably the worst time of the day to fish, Jesus had miraculously brought about a catch that was probably many weeks’ worth of pay. Peter realized this and he realized that there was nothing that made him worthy to even be around Jesus.

Looking at Peter’s time as a disciple we can see that he was the one who seemed to get himself in the most trouble, but he was also one of the only disciples brave enough to declare Jesus to be God’s own Son. Luke tells us that Peter felt unworthy of even being considered as a follower. He felt his past excluded him.

However, a couple verses later, we read how Jesus responded. Jesus replied to Peter by saying, “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will fish for people.” (v. 10b)

Jesus’ response tells us something incredible about God. God is willing to include sinful people in His plan. While we are entirely unworthy to even be considered for a part in God’s story, He is more than willing to invite us to be a part of it. Jesus invited sinful Peter, and He is more than willing to invite you and me to be a part of His story in the world today!

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Flashback Episode — A Similar but Different Miracle: Matthew 15:32-39


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In two of the gospels, specifically Matthew and Mark, we discover a miracle that seems similar to one that we have already focused in on, but one that is quite profound when we look at how it is different from the other miracle. The other miracle is the only miracle that all four gospel writers included, and when I say that, you may remember that the miracle I’m referring to is the feeding of the crowd of more than 5,000 that we spent two episodes focusing in on.

However, lesser known is another miracle, where Jesus feeds a crowd larger than 4,000. While some people might think that these two miracles were the same, there is enough evidence and uniqueness in what happens in this episode’s miracle to clearly point to this being a separate event. And as a separate event, this miracle has some profound themes we can learn from.

Our passage for this episode comes from the gospel of Matthew, chapter 15, and we will read it from the New Living Translation of the Bible. Starting in verse 32, Matthew tells us:

32 Then Jesus called his disciples and told them, “I feel sorry for these people. They have been here with me for three days, and they have nothing left to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry, or they will faint along the way.”

33 The disciples replied, “Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?”

Let’s pause here for a moment because I want to draw out a couple things that we can already see in the verses leading up to the miracle. First off, this miracle is prompted by Jesus’ compassion and the necessity of the situation. Three days with Jesus away from towns in the wilderness is a long time, and from what Jesus describes, many of those who came did not plan for a trip of this length. This detail is powerful, because this means that many in the crowd following Jesus wanted to be near Jesus even more than they wanted to eat. As I say this, I am doubtful of how many self-professed Christians could be described in this way living in the world today.

The other big idea I see in this passage’s introduction is the initial response the disciples give, which is asking where they could get enough food for such a big crowd. All gospel chronology suggests this happened after the previous miracle of food multiplication, so this means that the disciples forgot what Jesus had done in the past, or they doubted His present circumstances for being able to do it again. This detail is also powerful, because it tells us that our present problems will always appear larger than our past victories. Only when we intentionally focus on what Jesus has done for us in the past will we have faith that He wants to help in our current situation.

Now that we remember and have a clear picture in our mind about what Jesus had done in the past, we can continue reading to discover what Jesus does to solve this problem in their present. Continuing in verse 34, Matthew tells us that:

34 Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?”

They replied, “Seven loaves, and a few small fish.”

35 So Jesus told all the people to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, thanked God for them, and broke them into pieces. He gave them to the disciples, who distributed the food to the crowd.

37 They all ate as much as they wanted. Afterward, the disciples picked up seven large baskets of leftover food. 38 There were 4,000 men who were fed that day, in addition to all the women and children. 39 Then Jesus sent the people home, and he got into a boat and crossed over to the region of Magadan.

In this passage and the miracle, we see some fascinating unique details that frame God’s blessings and God’s answers to prayer. In the previous miracle where 5,000 plus were fed, the gift of food came from an outside source, specifically a boy offering his lunch to Jesus. That miracle had the prayer being answered from an outside source.

To contrast this, our current miracle describes the food coming from the disciples’ own reserve. This means that sometimes, it is up to us to supply what God needs to bless others. Sometimes God will bring us outside help to help us when blessing others and when answering our prayers, while other times, God will expect us to use what He has already given to us to bless others.

When we pray, we should be open and willing to accept help from wherever God sends it, and we shouldn’t shy away from using our own resources if no outside help comes.

Also, we learn from both miracles that no gift is too small. I believe that Jesus could have multiplied one loaf just as easily as He multiplied seven. When we bring our gifts to Jesus, we should never consider the gifts as too small or too insignificant for Him to use them. Instead, we should bring our gifts and readily offer them to Him. As we easily see in both miracles, Jesus is more than able to multiply a small gift into a large one when we are willing to give Him what we have. We might think that what we have to offer God is insignificant, but no heartfelt gift given to God is insignificant in His eyes.

When comparing these two miracles, we discover that the source of each miracle was total, complete gifts. While both sources of bread and fish likely were larger days, or even hours before, when the gifts are presented to Jesus, we don’t see any hint of food being held back. This means that when we offer God a gift, we should offer God the full, best, complete gift that we have. I doubt either of these miracles would have been as effective if the supplier of the food had held part of the supply back.

In this pair of similar miracles, we discover that God is more than willing to bless us when we pray, when we need help, and/or when He knows we will be better off with the gift than without. God is also more than willing to multiply the small, seemingly insignificant gifts into blessings for a greater number of people than we could even imagine. And God is interested in heartfelt gifts over gifts given with reservation.

All this leads us to the big truth that the greatest gift that we can give God is our hearts. Jesus came to love us and to redeem us from sin, and the least we can return to Him for this amazing gift is our hearts, our minds, and our lives.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Always seek God first and place Him first in your life. Praise God and thank Him for everything that He has done for us and be willing to let Him use you for His grand purposes. Step into God’s plan and give Him the greatest gift you can give, which is the gift of your heart!

Also, as always, pray and study the Bible for yourself to learn and grow closer to God each and every day. Seek to grow closer to Him through the pages of His Word and study the scriptures faithfully and prayerfully to let the Holy Spirit into your heart and mind.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or drift away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year of Miracles – Episode 32: When Jesus feeds a crowd of 4,000+ people, we discover a great compliment to the earlier miracle where 5,000+ people were fed, and we discover some amazing themes regarding how God chooses to answer our prayers.

Join the discussion on the original episode's page: Click Here.

Secret Preparation: Matthew 24:36-51

Focus Passage: Matthew 24:36-51 (CEV)

36 No one knows the day or hour. The angels in heaven don’t know, and the Son himself doesn’t know. Only the Father knows. 37 When the Son of Man appears, things will be just as they were when Noah lived. 38 People were eating, drinking, and getting married right up to the day that the flood came and Noah went into the big boat. 39 They didn’t know anything was happening until the flood came and swept them all away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man appears.

40 Two men will be in the same field, but only one will be taken. The other will be left. 41 Two women will be together grinding grain, but only one will be taken. The other will be left. 42 So be on your guard! You don’t know when your Lord will come. 43 Homeowners never know when a thief is coming, and they are always on guard to keep one from breaking in. 44 Always be ready! You don’t know when the Son of Man will come.

45 Who are faithful and wise servants? Who are the ones the master will put in charge of giving the other servants their food supplies at the proper time? 46 Servants are fortunate if their master comes and finds them doing their job. 47 You may be sure that a servant who is always faithful will be put in charge of everything the master owns. 48 But suppose one of the servants thinks that the master won’t return until late. 49 Suppose that evil servant starts beating the other servants and eats and drinks with people who are drunk. 50 If that happens, the master will surely come on a day and at a time when the servant least expects him. 51 That servant will then be punished and thrown out with the ones who only pretended to serve their master. There they will cry and grit their teeth in pain.

Read Matthew 24:36-51 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

During one of the times when Jesus was teaching, some of His followers asked about when His return would be. Instead of sharing a time, which He says He doesn’t know, Jesus describes what the world would be like. In Jesus’ description, He shares an idea that many people have misunderstood.

After sharing that He doesn’t know the time, Jesus tells His followers, “When the Son of Man appears, things will be just as they were when Noah lived. People were eating, drinking, and getting married right up to the day that the flood came and Noah went into the big boat. They didn’t know anything was happening until the flood came and swept them all away. That is how it will be when the Son of Man appears.” (v. 37-39)

Jesus parallels His return to the days of Noah. While it is easy to say the people living in Noah’s day were shocked and surprised when the flood ultimately came, they were not uninformed. For over 100 years, Noah had been preaching about the coming judgment, and likely everyone had written him off and gone about their own lives and their own tasks – ignorant of what God was about to do.

We are told this is how it will be when Jesus returns. While people will have been given a clear warning, most will have dismissed or ignored it, and while they were warned, they still will be surprised.

It is under the context of Jesus returning and appearing that we then read the following verses: “Two men will be in the same field, but only one will be taken. The other will be left. Two women will be together grinding grain, but only one will be taken. The other will be left. So be on your guard! You don’t know when your Lord will come. Homeowners never know when a thief is coming, and they are always on guard to keep one from breaking in. Always be ready! You don’t know when the Son of Man will come.” (v. 40-44)

When Jesus returns, He first describes it at a time when He will appear, and then He describes it as being a surprise to people. He describes it as being a time when some people will be ready, while others won’t be.

However, the tricky part of Jesus’ description here is that being ready is not an entirely outward process. When Jesus describes two men in the field and two women grinding grain, He describes people who are essentially doing the same things, but one was ready and one wasn’t. Jesus’ appearance in this passage will not be remotely close to a secret even though it will be a surprise for many.

Jesus concludes this section by reemphasizing His key point: “Always be ready! You don’t know when the Son of Man will come.” (v. 44)

Our preparation for Jesus’ return might not be visible, but it is crucial. Not only is it important for us to be doing the right things and living for Jesus in a public way, but we must also be living for Him privately as well. Our hearts, minds, and actions must all be focused on Jesus and be ready for His return. This is the only way for us to not be surprised when He ultimately appears in the clouds at His return.

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The Unanswered Challenge: Mark 11:27-33


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As Mark continues to describe the events during the week leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, we discover another place where the religious leaders decide to challenge Jesus. However, unlike most other times the religious leaders bring a challenge Jesus’ way, this one ends in a way that these leaders did not expect.

Let’s read about what happened, and then take a few minutes to discover what we can learn from it.

Our passage is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 11, and we will read from the Contemporary English Version. Starting in verse 27, Mark tells us that:

27 Jesus and his disciples returned to Jerusalem. And as he was walking through the temple, the chief priests, the nation’s leaders, and the teachers of the Law of Moses came over to him. 28 They asked, “What right do you have to do these things? Who gave you this authority?”

Let’s pause reading here. Mark has framed this event as happening the day after Jesus clears the temple. In the immediate context of the timeline in Mark, this implies that the religious leaders’ challenge is directed primarily at Jesus’ clearing the temple courtyard.

However, in a broader context, Jesus has spent years teaching, healing, and preaching all around the region. Another angle for this question and challenge relates to Jesus’ broad ministry and who gave Him the authority to leave the life of a carpenter behind and step into the public eye like He did.

A third angle for this question relates to Jesus assembling 12 disciples. This was very abnormal in the first century. While discipleship was normal, most religious leaders who called disciples to follow them only called one or maybe two followers. Then Jesus comes along and He calls 12 of the least qualified people from the religious leaders’ perspective.

The original language might have hints at which of these angles the challenge being brought to Jesus is aimed at, but when looking at what happens and with the answer we know, the answer is the same regardless of the angle we understand the question.

Let’s continue reading and discover how Jesus responded. Continuing in verse 29, after He was asked the question:

29 Jesus answered, “I have just one question to ask you. If you answer it, I will tell you where I got the right to do these things. 30 Who gave John the right to baptize? Was it God in heaven or merely some human being?”

31 They thought it over and said to each other, “We can’t say that God gave John this right. Jesus will ask us why we didn’t believe John. 32 On the other hand, these people think that John was a prophet. So we can’t say that it was merely some human who gave John the right to baptize.”

They were afraid of the crowd 33 and told Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Jesus replied, “Then I won’t tell you who gave me the right to do what I do.”

While I don’t know if these religious leaders talked loudly among themselves so that those present could hear them deliberate between the options, or if one of those in the group shared what was said with the gospel writers at a later date, it is interesting that Jesus gives basically the exact same challenge to back to the religious leaders. In Jesus’ counter question, we find the exact same dilemma being given back to the religious leaders that they gave to Jesus.

This question is a subtle trap because if Jesus answered that God gave Him the authority, they would then demand some type of proof, which would be subjective at best, and it would indicate that these religious leaders discounted or outright ignored all the signs around them already.

Instead, we see in Jesus’ counter question the perfect opportunity out of this challenge. The religious leaders’ fear of the crowd stops them from answering one way, and their fear of being judged by Jesus stops them from answering the other way. While I’m sure the religious leaders’ were not happy giving Jesus a “We don’t know” response, it is the only response that allows them to maintain their dignity in the face of the counter-challenge Jesus gave them.

Jesus could have responded to their challenge by simply saying that he had the same source of authority that John did, but while that would also sidestep the direct challenge while also being accurate, it would have allowed for an intentional misunderstanding and it would subtly misrepresent God. If someone in the crowd didn’t believe John was a prophet, then they would also be justified in believing Jesus wasn’t from God if Jesus had given this response.

From looking at this passage, the religious leaders have a greater fear that the crowd believed John had God’s authority, more than there being actual evidence the crowd actually believed this way. The religious leaders are scared to say the opposite because of something they suspected about the crowd, while nothing in the passage itself would suggest that the crowd present was as heavily weighted towards John being a prophet as they feared.

From Jesus’ perspective, the best way out of the religious leaders’ challenge is prompting the question itself to be withdrawn, and the way to do that is by asking a counter question that cannot be easily answered.

From this event, we discover that Jesus most likely had God as His source of authority. We can confirm this theory by simply looking at all the healing Jesus did, and all the miracles Jesus did over the previous years of His ministry. Without God’s approval and support, Jesus could have done nothing.

It is the same in our own lives. If we don’t have God’s approval or support, anything we try to do or build will simply not last. We might be really good at what we do and with what we build, but if God is not behind it, eternity will come and what we built will be left in the past as a distant memory.

This means that the best plan for moving forward is stepping into God’s will and into His plan for our lives. When we are working alongside God and doing what He wants us to do, then what we build and grow will last for eternity. When our focus is on pointing people to Jesus, then we are doing exactly what the Holy Spirit wants to do and we shouldn’t be surprised if the Holy Spirit enters our lives to help us achieve His goal!

Jesus’ entire ministry gave God the glory and it demonstrated God’s never-ending love for sinners. God loves you and me more than we can imagine, and Jesus came to take the punishment we deserve for breaking God’s law so we can be given the reward He deserved for living a sinless life. This is the gospel message and it is great news for everyone who decides to align their lives with God!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first in your life and choose to align your plans and your will to His. Choose to lean on Jesus for everything you need in life and place your faith, your hope, your trust, and your belief in Him and His sacrifice on your behalf. Because of Jesus, we are assured of a new life with God that awaits us when He returns to bring us home to heaven!

While we are waiting for His return, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to purposefully grow closer to Him each day. Through personal prayer and study, we open our hearts to God and we let Him into our lives. When God is in our lives, He will lead and guide us along the path He created us to walk.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year in Mark – Episode 31: When some religious leaders challenge Jesus over where He gets His authority, discover in how Jesus responds a powerful truth about life and about where the hearts of these religious leaders were placed.

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