Because I Told You To
Reading: Luke 5-7
I wonder if the Guinness Book of World Records has a category for the number of times someone has used the phrase, “because I told you to”?
Peter put a slightly different twist on the saying in Luke 5:1-11. It seems that this took place when the disciples were still pursuing their “regular” jobs even though they were followers of the Lord. Jesus had just finished one of His usual marathon teaching sessions. In fact, He had to borrow one of the fishing boats so that the crowd wouldn’t overwhelm Him. The fishermen had apparently been out all night fishing and were now closing up shop for the day, but when Jesus was finished teaching he told them to gather the nets they had just finished washing and head out to deep water.
If Peter had been a child he might have said, “Why?” If Jesus had been Peter’s parent he might have answered, “Because I told you to.” Peter skipped that step and relied: “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:5, NIV).
There are great faith lessons in this story. There are wonderful lessons about work ethic in what happened here. Of course, there is a terrific example of obedience as well.
Peter was the fisherman. He was the expert. What did an itinerant preacher and a carpenter’s son know about fishing that Peter didn’t know?
Once Peter and the others began to follow Christ in “full-time” ministry, they would come to know that “full-time” meant exactly what it implied. Fishing for men has nothing to do with a forty hour work week or a 9 to 5 job.
The big fisherman could have put up an argument and asked Jesus for an explanation. He didn’t. He simply obeyed.
But what also interests me is what happened after the fisherman hauled in the huge catch that ended up in their nets because they did as Jesus had told them to do. Luke tells us that they were amazed at the number of fish that miraculously appeared when and where they would not normally have appeared. But Peter doesn’t go “Wow, Lord, that was awesome!” He runs up to Jesus, falls on his knees and says, ”Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8, NIV).
This episode reminds me so much of Isaiah’s experience in Isaiah 6. When Isaiah saw the glory of God, he didn’t say, “Wow, Lord, that was awesome!” He fell on his face before God and confessed his sin.
Peter saw the face of God. And when he did, he also saw himself for what he was. There is an interesting progression here. We might think that we need to have an experience with God and then act in faith, follow and obey Him. It appears that the reverse is also true. We need to act in faith, follow and obey Him and then we will see His face. God is not at our command; we are at His.
Peter was wise enough to know that he shouldn't ask “why?” and that he shouldn’t wait for, “because I told you to.” Am I?