Steven Furtick — There's A Catch
Today, my passage may be familiar to you if you have some Sunday school, Vacation Bible School experience. This will probably not be strange waters for you in Luke 5:1-11, but I really like it so I was excited when God led me to preach it. "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 saw at the water's edge two boats left there by the fishermen who were washing their nets". Got into one of the boats the one belonging to Simon". Later, his name was Peter. Same guy. But Jesus so changed his identity that what people called him changed.
Do you know God can do such a deep work in your life that people don't even recognize you as the same person anymore? People who used to call you a failure, will have to step back and rethink how they assessed you and labeled you, when God gets hold of your life. So, "He got into one of the boats..". There's two boats. He gets into "...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. When He had finished speaking He said to Simon, "Put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch". Simon answered..". with an attitude. "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. Your little talk was really good , but we are professionals. You're a preacher. You do the preaching we'll do the fishin'".
But you gotta give him credit because even with a bad attitude he obeyed. God can bless obedience even if you do it with a bad attitude. You don't really have to feel the mood for a workout for your muscles to receive the benefit. You don't even have to feel like coming to church for God to get a word through to you. How many of you didn't feel like coming to church today? Alright. You're gonna get the biggest blessing of everybody. 'Cause that's called the sacrifice of praise. It's when you don't consult your feelings because the foundation of your decisions is your faith. Would y'all calm down and let me read my scripture?
Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything , but because you say so I will let down the nets. When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break". That's probably enough for us to work from for now. Verse 2 says, "He saw at the water's edge two boats". Verse 6 says, "When they had done so they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break". So look at your neighbor and give them my subject for today. Say, "Neighbor". Say, "Favorite neighbor" tell 'em "You're on the edge of a blessing". Now look at 'em real serious now and tell 'em my title. Say, "But There's a Catch".
There's a catch. Because, central premise, the edge of my next blessing will often be the place of my greatest frustration. Certainly the scene in Luke 5 seems to be that Peter has decided to try it again tomorrow. Just at that moment when he has all the nets cleaned and ready to be stored away, just at the moment where he has the boat's position to be dry docked. Here comes this radical Rabbi with the big crowd. Standing room only everywhere Jesus Christ went to preach. People who don't like big churches wouldn't like Heaven. Just a side note. Everywhere He shows up the crowd comes.
The first element I wanna mention in this sermon, I wanna talk about conditional miracles. Three of these points. I like you to write 'em down that way you can preach 'em back to your wife when she's acting crazy this week, or your husband, or your mother-in-law. By conditional miracles I mean that there are certain conditions in which God is most likely to perform miracles. There's certain conditions in which you are most likely to see the power of God. Now, God can do what He wants to , but it seems to be a pattern in scripture that over and over again God reserves His greatest glory for our lowest points. Seems to be over and over again that it is after we have fished all night, caught nothing, that He now, after all this frustration, will give us the blessing that we could not achieve in our own strength.
I think it's so we'll know who blessed us when He does. That's the best thing that I can figure. I was at this location a few weeks ago, actually was there at the sea of Galilee. The NIV calls it the lake of Gennesaret. It's more accurate to call it a lake. When you call it the Sea of Galilee, it sounds major , but it isn't necessarily a major body of water. It's the largest in Israel for fresh water. But it's also the lowest. It's the lowest. It's the lowest. This place would become the base of Jesus' earthly ministry. Eighteen of thirty-three miracles that the Son of God performed on the Earth would happen around the Sea of Galilee. This is the region where He revealed His glory.
So is there any significance, I believe there is, to the fact that Jesus Christ picked the lowest point? This is the lowest lake, freshwater lake in all of the Earth. Did He choose the lowest lake to do His ministry because it was the closest? Or does it say something about a God Who often chooses our lowest moments and our weakest places to do His greatest work? Now that's not for everybody. Some people are doing just fine without God. And you got money and you got women and you got stuff and you got a full schedule and you don't have time for this God thing. But just in case there is anybody in here who has been in a little bit of a low place. Touch somebody, say, "The conditions are right for a miracle".
It's conditions for a miracle because not only is Peter frustrated, having fished all night a caught nothing, but the people are frustrated because they can't get in to hear Jesus. The Bible uses a phrase you see it over and over again in reference to Jesus. You even see it a little later in Luke 5. We don't have time to tell you about one time Jesus was preaching in a house and the bouncers wouldn't let this poor man in, but his friends wouldn't take no for an answer so they go to rippin' off the roof. Do not try this in overflow. I promise you, we've got armed guards that will do something about it if you try. But they ripped that roof off and got that man down because the Bible says there was such a crowd to hear Jesus that they couldn't get in.
Then you have excuse makers who will turn around and go home and then you have WayMakers who decide, "I'll do what I have to do and leave what I have to leave in order to experience a touch from God". So it's crowded. Peter is fishing. So we got a full crowd and empty nets. In this condition God performs a miracle. "They were listening to..". verse 1, "...the Word of God". What were they doing? They were listening to the Word of God. Not like you're listening to the Word of God today. What you are doing today is listening to someone attempt to preach the Word of God.
That's not the case here 'cause you gotta understand. John 1, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God". He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made. Without Him nothing has been made that has been made. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Who is this Word? This Word that was made flesh and dwelled among us so that we could behold His glory. The glory as of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth. They were not listening to a man preach about the Word of God. They were listening to the Word of God preach the Word of God an encounter with the Word wrapped in flesh.
They were listening to the Word of God. Heaven had a committee meeting. Needed to find a way to get the Word into the Earth. How shall we do it? How shall we get the Word into the Earth? Perhaps we could find a Palestinian teenager. A virgin womb. Perhaps He could be born into a crowded stall. Perhaps He could be born into a place that no one would have imagined nor would they have sought Him there. God likes unlikely conditions to perform great miracles. I'm just pointing out a pattern. I'm just pointing out a pattern that it is often at the place of your greatest frustration that God will reveal His greatest glory.
Now I've seen this so many ways. So many ways and in my ministry, even in creativity. Sometimes, it's when you're just about to give up on an idea. How many creative people do we have? Just when you're about to throw it away, that you'll see what it was meant to be all along. We write songs for our church all the time and some of them are better than others. Some of them you never hear. You ought to thank God that you never hear 'em. We don't wanna inflict that kinda pain on you. Some of them are just private songs. But sometimes, you work and work on a song...
I remember back in 2014 and I sent this screenshot to Holly on Thursday 'cause I wanted her to see something, just a contrast of how something starts and how something finishes. I sent her a voice memo. 'Cause I walk around mumbling all the time little voice memos, I have been know to slip away from the table at a restaurant, go in the bathroom stall and sing a song idea. So if we ever share a restroom space, men, and you hear some weirdo that might be me. That might be me. I sent her a memo of this old song that I tried to write. Weird little idea called "My Life Be an Altar", it was a really bad idea. It was a very complicated thought that I had for the song so I have it to Wade and I was like, "Do something with this".
This is 2014. He went over to try to write something with it. We were on a song writing retreat. He came back into the room five hours later. I said, "You got something? You got something? Did you do something with it? It's a good idea, right"? He said, "Yeah, well, you know, we fished all night and we caught nothin'". Basically is what he said. He said, "We tried, we just can't find anything going on". I said, "Yeah, it's kinda dumb idea". He said, "No, it's not dumb we just can't. I just don't think... I don't know".
And this little thing had been sitting around, Alex, for six months. I should come over to school of worship and play it for 'em. I'm not gonna play it for the whole church; it's way too humiliating. But it sat around for six months and Wade said he couldn't make anything out of it. And Chris said that he didn't ever really get it either. And they all said it real politely , but they were basically saying the same thing. And I said we should probably just throw it away. Unless. Hang on. What if it wasn't "My Life Be an Altar"? What if it was just like six-eight time and it was like not that moody vibe that I had down there , but what if it's just... "Oh, Come to the Altar". You know like, "Oh, come to the altar".
Am I exaggerating this story, Chris? "The Father's arms are open wide". What if it was just that? And Chris goes, "Oh, if you're gonna do that. I got this thing that I've been mumbling into my phone that I thought was stupid, too". And he plays it and it says, "Are you hurting and broken within"? I said Chris. Did you just say, "Are you hurting and broken within"? He said, "No, all you hurting and broken within". I said, "No it's, 'Are you hurting and broken within?' ". It's a question. It's gonna open the whole song. It's gonna be an invitation. And four hours later, we had the song and three-and-a-half years later, this week, it was the number one song on all Christian streaming songs.
But I was telling you that 'cause you got some things in your life that you're just about to throw away. I mean I was just about to quit. Just when I thought it was nothing God said, "Give me that back". Just when I was putting up the boats on the shore. Just when you are walking away from the marriage. Just when you were about to quit praying for your kid. God says it's not over. High five three people and say, "Not yet". Not yet. The Devil thought he had him on Saturday, but there's a catch! It's a set-up! Sunday's coming! It's not over! Touch your neighbor, say, "There's a catch". 'Cause it's conditional. What's it conditional upon? Your obedience. Your perseverance. Your willingness to do something you don't understand.
Now watch this. This is funny. Possibly illegal. What Jesus does next. I think so. 'Cause Jesus who is the Word of God, who spoke the world into existence, Colossians 1:16, needs a way to get out into the world that He made, the message that He is. He needs a way. This is crazy because the Maker — "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God". He was with God in the beginning. "Through Him all things were made that were made and without Him nothing has been made that has been made". That One, the Maker, needs a way to get the Word. The Word needs a way. The Maker needs a way to get the Word into the world that He so loved that He came wrapped in flesh. He needs a way.
And it says that He saw two boats at the shore and one of them was belonging to Simon. Watch what He does verse 3, "He got into one of the boats". Okay, you're looking like that's normal. No conversation. No lease agreement. You don't think that — If you don't think this is weird, try it when you leave church today. No, I'm serious. If you don't think this is weird just find the nicest car that you like in the parking lot, just the nicest one, don't do a Camry. There's nothing wrong with Camry's , but if you're gonna steal a car pick the nicest one in the parking lot and just do what Jesus did. Just get in it. And when they come up to the window and ask you, "What are you doing in my car"? Say, "I noticed your Elevation sticker. I figured you're a Christian. I need to use it. Can I have your keys"?
Because it's essential what Jesus does. He sits down in the boat, the one belonging to Simon Peter. Why did Jesus pick Peter? You ever thought about that? I have. 'Cause I think of a lot of reasons why He wouldn't pick Peter. A lot of reasons why He wouldn't pick Peter. Peter was impulsive. Peter was a know-it-all. Peter was violent. You don't cut off peoples ear if you had a normal upbringing. That's not something that — Peter had a filthy mouth. Peter — I heard one preacher said, "'Cause Peter was bold. That's why Jesus liked him. He was bold". I don't think so. Because remember the Bible was written pre-Uber. Jesus had a lot to accomplish in three years. The word had to get out. Touch somebody say, "We gotta get the word out". How we gonna get it out? No Facebook. No YouTube. No Instagram. You know why? I have come to believe that the reason Jesus picked Peter is because He had a boat. How else?
Okay, let me preach point number two. I wanna talk about creative collaboration. Because now here is the Creator partnering with His creation. Here is the Word of God who has the ability to walk on water. Don't forget that. If Jesus had wanted to just get away from the crowd and preach and create a little distance, we know from Matthew 14, that if a storm comes up and the boat is not available and Jesus needs to get somewhere He will just suspend the laws of buoyancy that He Himself created. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God. If Jesus can't find a boat to ride on, He'll speak a Word and walk on the Word that He is to the place that He — But He didn't wanna do it like that. And I would've done it like that. 'Cause this is early in His ministry. If you moonwalk back on the water and then preach to the crowd, they'll pay more attention. Don't you think?
He said, "Nah, I want a boat". I want a boat. I want his boat. I want her boat. I wanna use their life. I wanna use their weakness. I wanna build a church. I wanna call people together from all different nations around the world. Be a part of the E-Fam. I wanna call people from different backgrounds. I wanna call people of different kinds, different types. I want some people who own their own businesses. I want some people who are unemployed. I want some people who suffered great abuse in their childhood. I wanna bring them together. I wanna use your boat.
It's the hardest thing for us to understand, sometimes, why would the one who can walk on water have any use for our boat? I think the Devil uses it to give us excuses why we don't offer God what we have. 'Cause, "My boat's not as big as his". "My boat's dirty". "My boat... I fished all night and I caught nothing. What would you want with me, Jesus"? So I went from thinking Jesus needed Peter's boat to realizing that Jesus didn't need Peter's boat. Peter needed Jesus' blessing on his boat. Because that same thing happened to me in the area of giving. When we give the offering. I thought that giving was the way that we supported the church. To keep the lights on, to keep the salaries paid. Forgive me for being so naive. I thought God needed my boat. I thought He needed my gift. Little bit of life rolled by and I realized that God was God before I ever showed up. I'll put this out to you. There were two boats on the shore. So I believe if Peter had said no, Jesus would've got in the other one. Means He doesn't have to use us.