Luke 5:1-11 by Pastor Dan Walker
What does it mean to be a Christian? A Christian is a follower or disciple of Jesus Christ. In this message, we learn how Jesus called His first disciples and how He calls us today. A disciple of Jesus listens to Jesus' voice and obeys it. A disciple of Jesus leaves everything to follow Jesus and make more disciples. A disciple of Jesus fulfills the eternal purpose that God created him for and is blessed.
Duration:37 mins 27 secs

Jesus called people to follow Him. To believe in Jesus is not simply to believe He existed. To believe in Jesus is not a one-time event. To believe in Jesus is to become a follower of His, for the rest of your life.

This morning our message is entitled “Grow as a Disciple of Jesus.” We’re going to be talking about another biblical term for a follower of Jesus, which is a disciple of Jesus. A disciple is a follower or a student of a teacher or leader. As believers, we are to be students and followers of Jesus our leader and Lord. Therefore believing in Jesus is not a one-time event, as some think. Believing in Jesus is to become a disciple of Jesus for a lifetime.

Another common definition of a disciple is a personal follower of Jesus during his life, especially one of the twelve apostles. One we’ve learned so far today, indicates that this definition is not correct. Although Jesus’ followers during His life were disciples, the term disciples refers to followers of Jesus of all time, including today.

Luke 6:13 (ESV) And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles:

From a larger group of disciples, Jesus chose the twelve apostles. Thus there were disciples in Jesus who were not apostles and the same is true today. Jesus instructs all of His followers in …

Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

As a disciple of Jesus, our purpose in life is to make more disciples or followers of Jesus. A disciple is a believer in Jesus who has been baptized and taught to obey everything Jesus commands His disciples to do.  In Jesus’ day, Jewish rabbis had disciples who followed them around, learned from them and looked to one day becoming a rabbi. Jesus, on the other hand, called people to follow Him and become His disciples.

God created every human being with a purpose in life, a reason that they were created. That includes you and me. In order to fulfill your purpose in life, you need to be a disciple of Jesus, a follower of His. Those who are not disciples of Jesus cannot fulfill their life’s purpose. Today we want to learn more about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

Disciples listen to God’s Word

Luke 5:1 (ESV) 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,

People did not just flock to Jesus to be healed.This verse tells us that the crowd pressed in to hear the word of God. They wanted to get as close as possible to Jesus in order to hear the truth He was presenting to them. The words that Jesus spoke were the very word of God.

Luke 5:2 (ESV) and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets.

Fishing in Jesus’ day was done with nets at night when the fish could not see the nets.Jesus was teaching the people during the day, when the fishermen’s night jobs were finished. As Jesus taught, the fishermen were washing their nets preparing to put them away and listening to Jesus.

Luke 5:3 (ESV) 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.

Simon (Peter) offered his boat to Jesus so that He could teach from the water. The sound of Jesus’ voice would carry over the water and reach more people that way. At this point, we see the crowd and Peter listening to the word of God that Jesus was speaking. Peter was not only listening, but he had given Jesus permission to use his boat as a preaching platform. Our story today begins with disciples or disciples to be, pressing in to listen to God’s Word. This was not happening in the synagogue but out in the working world of the time.

The whole concept of being of disciple of Jesus means that the disciple must listen to Him. How does Jesus speak to us today? Jesus speaks to us through the written Bible, God’s Word, both the New and Old Testaments. Jesus taught His disciples that all of God’s Word speaks about Him.

How do we listen to God’s Word? The Bible tells us that we are to listen to God’s Word as part of a local church family. We have examples of listening in larger groups, as in our story today and in smaller groups where you can interact with other disciples. The Bible also tells us that we are to listen to God’s Word on our own. We are to daily read and study God’s Word to seek to apply it to our lives.

You cannot grow as a disciple of Jesus without listening to Him speak through God’s Word. We have begun studying God’s Word with a curriculum called Listen, both in the Sunday morning Life Group and in the Wednesday night Life Group. If you are not a part of a Life Group, we encourage you to attend one of these. If neither time fits with your schedule, let me know. We will pray and believe God for a time where you can listen to God’s Word in a biblical small group. Disciples listen to God’s Word.

Disciples obey Jesus’ commands

Luke 5:4 (ESV) And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

At the end of Jesus teaching, He spoke to Simon. Jesus didn’t ask Simon to do something, Jesus told Simon what to do. Jesus gave Simon a command that seemed like nonsense to Simon.

Luke 5:5 (ESV) And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”

As we mentioned before, fish in that day were always caught at night. Simon and his men had worked all night in that region of the lake and caught nothing. They were now tired, they had been cleaning their nets and putting them away. Now, Jesus was telling him to go out again, get their nets dirty and fish in the same area in which  they had caught nothing. Despite Simon’s excuses, he reluctantly agreed to follow Jesus’ command. What happened? Was Simon’s experience a good predictor or was Jesus’ word?

Luke 5:6-7 (ESV) 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.

To Simon’s amazement, their nets caught so many fish that they were on the verge of breaking. They signaled to their partner boat who quickly came and both boats were filled with so many fish that they began to go under. When Simon cast his nets out this time, he had no faith that they were going to catch anything. He simply chose to obey Jesus’ command. And the end result was a great blessing for Simon and his men. Disciples obey Jesus’ commands.

Let’s think about how we are often in Simon’s shoes. Simon’s experience and logic told him that putting the nets out again in the daylight would be of no use. He thought that not only would they catch nothing, they would dirty their nets again and miss their needed rest after a long night of fishing. But Simon chose to obey and was blessed.

Let’s take an example of Jesus’ instructions that many people struggle with. Jesus Himself said that His followers should tithe, that is give 10% of their income to God through their local church. Yet, many people think that they can’t possibly tithe because they’re barely making it financially now. They reason that by giving 10% away, they’ll only be left with 90% and not be able to pay their bills. God’s Word on the other hand promises that when you tithe you will be blessed and have more than you would have if you hadn’t tithed. If you have trouble believing God’s promise on tithing, God tells you to test Him on it. Try it out and see if it works. 

Carol and I are fortunate to have been taught tithing by our parents at a young age. We have seen God bless financially and in other ways over the years and have always had more than enough. In fact, we and others in the church have been so blessed by tithing that we give more than 10% and God continues to bless. Disciples obey Jesus’ commands.

Disciples leave everything to make disciples

Luke 5:8-9 (ESV) 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,

What was the impact on Peter when he obeyed Jesus and the result was a miracle he had not expected? He began to realize that Jesus’ commands brought blessing and he had doubted Jesus. He realized that he was a sinful man who hadn’t learned to trust Jesus yet. He didn’t feel worthy to be around Jesus.

Luke 5:10 (ESV) 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.”

Jesus hadn’t asked Simon to go fishing again just to catch a bunch of fish. Jesus had a new purpose for Simon Peter’s life. Listen carefully to how Jesus addresses Peter again. Jesus does not ask Peter if he wants to do something. Jesus gives Peter two commands. The first is to not be afraid, to not be afraid of being around Jesus, to not be afraid of following Jesus. The second command is that Peter’s vocation in life would change from catching fish to catching men. Catching men is following Jesus in making more disciples.

Luke 5:11 (ESV) And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

What was Peter and his fishing partners’ response? They parked their boats and left everything to follow Jesus. They followed Him to become catchers of men, they were no longer fishermen. Their old way of life was over, they had begun a new life of being disciples of Jesus. Disciples leave everything to follow Jesus and make disciples.

What does it mean for us to leave everything today to follow Jesus? It means to leave everything behind that is keeping you from obeying Jesus. Jesus’ main purpose in Peter’s life was to catch people, to make disciples of Jesus. And I believe that is the main purpose of every believer’ life today. Our focus in life is to be a witness for Jesus and make disciples of Jesus.

Does that mean that everyone must leave their job like Peter did? No, not at all. Most of us are to use our jobs and the places that God has put us to be His witness there. Some are called to leave their jobs and go into full-time ministry. I had a Ph.D. in chemistry and was working full-time in research at Monsanto when God called me into full-time ministry. For most, it’s to let your light shine for Jesus everywhere you go. In order to do that, we must learn to hear Jesus’ voice all through the day. What He commands us to do, we must do it.

When He tells you to talk to your neighbor or a relative about Jesus or to invite them to church, how will you respond? Will you leave your shyness behind and boldly obey Jesus? As you do that, God will use you to make disciples. Just as some fishermen catch more fish than others, so God uses people to make different numbers of disciples, some more, some less. But every person that you have a part in leading to the Lord changes eternity forever. There is no greater purpose in life. Disciples leave everything to make disciples.

From Peter’s call as a disciple of Jesus, we’ve learned some important lessons today. Disciples listen to God’s Word, through the Bible, teaching and the Spirit. Once we know what Jesus is saying, disciples obey Jesus’ commands. Jesus doesn’t give suggestions or options, He gives commands. Often commands that may seem to make no sense to us. But when we obey those commands, we are blessed and the kingdom advances.

Finally, disciples leave everything to follow Jesus and make more disciples. You can’t be a 50% or even a 90% disciple. To be a disciple of Jesus you must leave 100% behind, everything that hinders you from following Jesus. As you do that, you will find fulfillment in changing people’s lives for eternity. And one day, those saved through your life will welcome you in heaven.