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Magazine - Life in Him - July 2015
Tragic Failure and Triumphant Faith
“That night they caught nothing.”
“Jesus called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’
‘No’ they answered.” (John 21 v3-5).
“Because You say so, I will let down the net.” (Luke 5 v5).
The ‘No’ of a Tragic Failure
These fisherfolk had been toiling all night but with no success. The night’s toil was a failure and they had to confess in reply to the Master’s question that they had nothing to eat. In verse five we have the record of the result of toil in human energy, while verse six contains the result of service in the Master’s will and done in His way.
This venture, which ended so disastrously in empty nets and left the workers worn and hungry, originated in a human impulse expressed in a very emphatic “I” - “I’m going out to fish”. The man who speaks so emphatically here about what he is going to do is the same man to whom the Master said, in Matthew 4 v19, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men”, and Peter had immediately left his nets and followed Jesus. His action in this chapter suggests a departure from that call and a return to the things he had left, and in that return we have the reason for the failure of this night’s toil with its confession of poverty.
The worker who has departed from the call and will of God casts his nets in vain. He may have a fine boat and perfect tackle but something more than mere human equipment is required for taking souls alive. Human determination, intellectual training or past experience will not fill the nets of Christian service. We must be in the will of God and ready to cast the net in the place of HIS choosing. Let us beware of turning aside from a divine call. When the Master asks that searching question, “Haven’t you any fish?” we will have to answer ‘No’.
Further, the one who turns aside from the will of God inflicts an irreparable injury on others. “We’ll go with you”, suggests the thought that we never depart from the will of God alone. Others are dragged down. The bitterest sorrow to Peter, as he thought over that shameful night of failure, must have been the knowledge of how his example had led others astray. May the Master save us from ever knowing the bitterness of such an hour. Others are saying every day, “We’ll go with you”. Where are we leading them? Are we leading them to a night of fruitless toil with its empty nets and wasted strength or to the glad morning of ingathering in the will of God?
“So they went out and got into the boat immediately.” Self effort is usually characterized by hurry and a fear lest our plans be frustrated. It is the waiting hour in life that tests the reality of our trust in God. Such waiting times are full of great possibilities of spiritual enrichment or tragic failure. Let us beware of the hurry of a merely human impulse. It is better to wait for the Master than to spend the night in fruitless toil and have to stand before Him at the break of day with empty nets, only to answer His burning question with a tragic ‘No’.
In these days of changed values and lowered standards let us be true to the call that came to us in the hour when the Master said “Follow Me”, and straightway we left all. That is the path of unclouded vision and rest of soul.
“Because You say so, I will let down the net.” (Luke 5 v4-7).
In order to appreciate Peter’s statement we must study the context which will bring to light some very precious truths. We have here an illustration of the way in which faith triumphs over utter failure. “Master we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.” It had been a night of fruitless toil. The nets were empty, but in spite of the night’s failure Peter’s faith dared to obey the Master in the very place where skill and toil had proved so fruitless only a few hours before. There is nothing that paralyses effort like failure and too often we sit down in the presence of a great opportunity and fail to reap its wealth because of the consciousness of yesterday’s defeat. In the case before us faith rises superior to failure and reckons the impossible thing possible because of the Master’s word. The true believer can never be defeated. Simple faith dares the impossible and counts on the faithfulness of the Master.
In the second place faith triumphs over physical weakness. “We have toiled all the night”. The word translated ‘toiled/worked’ means to be worn out with work or wearied with labour. The same word is used in John 4 v6 where we read of the Master being “tired” with His journey. In spite of exhaustion and weariness Peter responds to the Master’s call and casts his net once more, his weariness overcome by the exercise of simple faith in the Master’s word. In Romans 8 v11 we read, “He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirt who lives in you”. Was it something of this quickening experience that Peter experienced as he responded to the Master’s call? Weariness was forgotten as faith sprang forward to its goal in God. How exhilarating and enabling are the promises and the commands of the Master.
Thirdly, faith triumphs over the contradictions of custom. It had not been Peter’s custom to go fishing in the morning or to be directed by a landsman as to how or where to cast his net, but there is something in the voice and presence of the Master that compels obedience, and once more faith triumphs, this time over prejudice and habit, and shouts, “Because You say so, I will let down the net”.
We notice here that Peter is very careful to state the condition on which he makes this bold, personal venture, “Because You say so”. In these words we have the statement of all that faith requires in order to proceed - the person and word of the Master - and on this warrant the Church has carried out her great missionary enterprises throughout the centuries. The consciousness of the Master’s presence and the conviction that He Who has promised is faithful, have been the dynamic of the great faith ventures that have sent the Gospel messengers to the ends of the earth with the message of the Cross. And this sure fact of the Master’s presence is not only the power for the propagation of the Gospel, it is also the dynamic for Christian living. What a strength it is in the midst of the problems of life to be conscious of the presence of the Master and to rest on His faithfulness. Burdens are lifted, dark paths are illuminated, great things are attempted and accomplished through faith in His life-giving word.
Whatever the task that lies ahead of us today, and however conscious we are of our inability to perform it, let us look up into the face of Him Who calls and say, ‘Because You say so, I will obey’.
From: ‘The Way of the Wind’.
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The Editor’s Letter.
My Dear Friends,
Again and again in his letters Paul uses such expressions as “in Christ”, “with Christ” and “through Christ”, and writes of the riches available to all who “live in Christ” - Paul’s letter to the Ephesian christians is full of such riches.
In this edition of ‘The Overcomer’ we look at some of the riches to be enjoyed as we live in Him, and some of the dangers to be avoided if we do not stay close to the Master.
May we all learn to walk daily with the Lord and be thus enabled to witness to His saving grace.
The love and grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all.
Yours in the Saviour’s Name,
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