When Jesus Doesn't Make Sense

Dr. Ray Pritchard
Dr. Ray Pritchard

“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’ 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’” (Luke 5:4-5).

Sometimes the Lord’s commands don’t seem to make sense.

It’s not as if Jesus is saying, “Let’s go out into the deep water, put down the nets, and we’ll see what happens.” Jesus is promising that if Peter will obey, he will catch fish. I’m sure that after a long night of fruitless fishing, this must have been hard to believe.

There were certainly reasons for Peter to be skeptical. After all, the experience of the previous night seemed conclusive. As a professional fisherman, Peter knew the lake. And he knew that sometimes even the best fishermen get “skunked.” He could have said, “Sorry, Lord, but it’s not worth the trouble.” Now comes the time to “fish or cut bait.” What will Peter do?

I love the way he puts it, “Because you say so.” In the King James Version, the phrase is “Nevertheless, at Thy Word.” Across the centuries believers have found them to be their divine marching orders. Conditions may be dark and the world may fight against us, circumstances may overwhelm us, and our fears nearly submerge us. But God speaks, and his children say, “Nevertheless, at Thy Word.” Off we go in obedience to Almighty God. Noah built an ark in the face of an unbelieving world with no more than this: “Nevertheless, at Thy Word.” Joshua marched around Jericho day after day with this in his heart: “Nevertheless, at Thy Word.” David confounded the doubters by facing Goliath armed with this confidence: “Nevertheless, at Thy Word.”

Then Peter added, “I will let down the nets.” We still have a part to do. The fish aren’t going to jump in the boat by themselves. Many answers to prayer await only one thing: “Let down your nets.” Put your net down into the deep water, do your part, and then God will do his. Lloyd Ogilvie says it this way: “Without God we can’t; without us he won’t.”

Are you ready to obey the Lord today?

Lord Jesus, give us courage to obey your call even when it would be easier to doubt. Amen.

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Originally published February 19, 2018.

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