Luke 5:1 ¶ And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, Luke 5:2 And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. Luke 5:3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.
Imagine with me for a moment that you are Simon Peter in this passage. After a long night of fishing not only are you exhausted, but discouraged about not catching any fish. The only thing your interested in is fixing the nets as soon as possible and going to sleep, but then you notice a large crowd of people coming towards you. And as they get closer you recognize Jesus of Nazareth is with them!
You’ve heard about Jesus of course (everybody has) but you have never seen him face to face. He’s the one who John the Baptist told everybody he was preparing the way for (Mark 1:1, 1:7-8) and after John was put in prison told everyone the Kingdom of God had begun (Mark 1:14-15). Suddenly you don’t feel so tired anymore and sit down to hear Him teach, but it doesn’t take long for a massive crowd to gather on the beach, and soon people start pushing and shoving so they can get closer to Jesus.
As you stand up to get a better view you notice Jesus is looking for someone, slowly his eyes scan the crowd until they come to you….”excuse me” Jesus asks, “can I borrow your boat?”
Suddenly every eye turns towards you frozen in a state of shock. “Of course!” you finally find the strength to say and can’t help but feel very important as the crowd parts allowing you through. Soon you’ve pushed into the shallow waters and Jesus is teaching the people gathered on the shore.
Luke 5:1-11 is a passage of Scripture that the Lord has used to teach me the motivations of obedience are more important than the obedience itself. Peter in this story obeys Jesus three separate times, but it’s only the last time (Luke 5:8) that his obedience came from the right motivation.
Peters obedience in Luke 5:1-3 (pushing the boat out so that Jesus can teach from it) doesn’t come a belief that He is God’s Son. Instead Peter obeys because Jesus is a great teacher with huge crowds, and more importantly it gave him (Peter) the chance to look like a rock star…after all who wouldn’t want Jesus to use their boat?
The danger with this kind of obedience is the crowds wouldn’t always follow Jesus. The same ones who loudly praised His triumphal entry called for His crucifixion once they realized Jesus wouldn’t free them from Roman rule (Matthew 21:9, Matthew 217:15-32).
More importantly though Jesus is interested in those who will be totally committed to Him instead of the crowds of half-hearted followers.
Mark 1:32-38 is one of the clearest examples in Scripture of Christ’s desire for those who will truly follow Him.
Mark 1:32 And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.
Mark 1:33 And all the city was gathered together at the door.
Mark 1:34 And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.
Mark 1:35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
Mark 1:36 And Simon and they that were with him followed after him.
Mark 1:37 And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee.
Mark 1:38 And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. (emphasis added)
Peter and the other disciples searched everwhere for Jesus and when they found him asked “why did you leave?” (paraphrase of 1:37). The response of Jesus was “I didn’t come for them (paraphrase of 1:38).” Contrast this with the response of Jesus to a leper who believes He is God’s son (1:40-41) and his strict command not to tell anybody (1:43-44) and it’s clear Jesus isn’t interested in large crowds of people who aren’t really committed.
There are moments when everyone will love Jesus and serving Him will bring us great Glory…but we must also be willing to obey when people hate Jesus, and it brings suffering.