“Launch out into the deep.” Those were the words that the Lord Jesus spoke to Peter after a long night of work (see Luke 5), during which Peter labored and toiled to catch fish but had come up empty. After that night of frustration, Jesus commands Peter to go back out into the deep waters and let down his nets and try one more time to find what he was looking for.
You probably know how the story ends [Peter catches more fish than he knows what to do with], that isn’t the point of the story.
When I look at this story, I don’t just see a miracle of catching a bunch of fish. I see a microcosm of what our lives as Christ-followers should look like – especially as we in the Orthodox church approach the most sacred time of year…Holy Week.
The story starts out with a multitude of people who “pressed about Him to hear the word of God.” Picture the scene: hundreds of people standing along the shore listening to Jesus preach, coming from far and wide and fighting the crowds to be there. Those are churches all over this country – packed with people coming from everywhere (especially during Holy Week) – but is that what Jesus wants? Is that all He wants? A multitude crowding around Him to just hear His nice preaching?
While they are all standing on the shore, Jesus gets into a boat and says to Peter “Launch out into the deep” (Luke 5:4). And Peter agrees – reluctantly – and the rest is history.
If you were in this story, where would you be? Standing on the shore with everybody else? Or in the deep with Jesus?
It’s easy to stand on the shore, hear the Word being preached, clap for the preacher, sing a nice song and then go home and back to normal life. That’s easy. People do that every day and many more will be doing that during Holy Week. Gathering about Him… hearing His Word… and then going home and back to normal life.
But that isn’t what He came for. In fact, if you want to know the truth, He is totally willing to leave all those multitudes on the shore for the sake of one soul that wants to “go deep” with Him. That is His heart’s greatest desire.
And that was Peter. That was the highlight of Jesus’ day – going deep with Peter. And that is what He desires for us as well – a deep, personal, intimate experience that cannot be had on the shore. That is the end goal of every church service, every sermon preached, every prayer uttered. The goal is finding yourself “in the deep” with Jesus.
I don’t know exactly what happened out there in the deep, but I do know that Peter was never the same again. Luke the evangelist says that after that intimate experience with Jesus in the deep, Peter “forsook all and followed Him” [Luke 5:11].
Please don’t let your Holy Week experience be spent on the shore with the crowds. You must find a time to go deep – alone time… just you and Him… with no one else around. Even when you are in the midst of a large gathering at church, close your eyes and launch out into the deep of your heart and you’ll find Jesus there. He’s always there.
He’s there when you wake up. He’s there when you go to sleep. He’s there every time you go to church or open your Bible or lift up your hands in prayer. He’s there and He’s calling out to you, “LAUNCH OUT INTO THE DEEP.”
When was the last time you had an experience in the deep with Jesus? Just you and Him alone? No multitudes around, no distractions, no hurrying…just you and Jesus in the deep. Maybe it’s time for that to change. It’s easy to stand on the shore. But what Jesus wants from His relationship with you is so much more…so much deeper than that.
Maybe it’s time to launch out.
For discussion: what advice can you share about ways/things that have helped you launch out into the deep with Jesus?