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  • Rev. Dale Cohen

If You Say So




“When [Jesus] had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.’” (Luke 5:4-5, NRSV)


It had been a long night of luckless fishing. The fishermen were tired and looking forward to some rest. They were cleaning the nets so they would be ready for their next outing. Conversations after fruitless endeavors are rarely positive, so I’m sure there was complaining about a variety of things as they mindlessly carried out their routine. Then Jesus shows up with a crowd following him. He presumptively boards one of the boats, Simon’s boat, and asks to be rowed a little distance from the shore. Jesus sits down and begins to teach the crowd that had assembled on the beach. The scripture fails to indicate what Simon (who would later be called Peter) did as Jesus spoke—did he listen or did he busy his hands with one of the tasks fishermen do at the end of a workday?


Jesus wrapped up his teaching and turned his attention toward fishing. He instructed Simon to row out into deeper water and put his nets out again to see what happens. I’m not a fisherman, so I don’t know the principles of successful fishing; however, I would assume that professional fishermen, even in Jesus’ day, would not have stopped fishing earlier if the best time to fish was about to take place. Simon expresses a little resistance but somehow still senses that the One who is issuing this command has some mysterious authority worthy of heeding. Simon responds, “Yet, if you say so...”


I’m interested in the “why” behind Simon’s willingness to act against his professional judgment. He had already quit fishing. He was wrapping up his daily operation and setting his sights on the next fishing expedition. Then Jesus shows up, and he changes his plans.


We live in a culture that no longer recognizes any authority other than the self-validated authority that gives us what we want. We are immediately suspicious of any facts that don’t support what we already believe. We quickly dismiss the judgment of experts if their assertions will require us to think differently. We don’t trust anybody that challenges our worldview or perspective. So why would Simon believe Jesus and follow the fishing instructions of a carpenter? What would you have done? What if Jesus showed up today and challenged your established way of thinking—what would you say?


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At Florence First United Methodist, our personal and congregational commitment is to be a thriving congregation that honors God through meaningful worship, that develops people of all ages as fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ, and that graciously impacts the community and the world through extravagant generosity and humble service, resulting in better lives for all.

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