I’d like to begin by reminding you of the occasion when Jesus told Simon Peter to go fishing, despite an earlier failure:
And when [Jesus] had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
(Luke 5:4-8 ESV)
As with all passages of Scripture, there are countless fascinating details. For example, we feel Simon Peter’s frustration at having to unpack nets that have been cleaned and put away, ready for the next day. Despite this, he faithfully obeys the Master and experiences the reward that accompanies such behaviour. Negative experiences fail to hold Simon back. Obedience to Jesus has a simple, physical reward.
Simon begins by calling Jesus, ‘Master’ – a respectful and accurate title for Jesus – He is, indeed, the Master. By the end of the passage, Simon calls Him, ‘Lord’ – a title that encompasses Christ’s Divinity. Obedience to Jesus has a more subtle, spiritual reward: a deeper revelation of who Jesus is.
With such grand themes swirling in the words, it’s easy to miss a more mundane moment in the middle of the passage. Specifically, the moment when Simon signals to his partners to come and help with bringing in the miraculous catch. The abundance of fish is just too much for Simon’s boat to handle alone. The fisherman’s story of a miraculous catch might easily have become the more familiar fisherman’s story of the ones that got away. Thank the Lord for the partners who were nearby.
The Greek word that is translated in most English Bibles as ‘partners’ is metochos. A slightly amplified translation of this word is, ‘active partaker with’.
It strikes me that it is a very fine thing to have people actively partaking or partnering with us in the adventure of Faith. We should find such partnerships in our own church and further afield, among our sister churches in Cambridge and beyond. The pattern of Christians coming together and supporting each other in ministry is a thoroughly Biblical one. In prayer, for example, Paul’s letters regularly contain a reassurance that he is praying for the recipients and a request that the recipients will pray for him – partnership!
St A’s has a lovely history of standing alongside other churches and Christian organisations. As Senior Minister of the church, I’m thrilled by our partnerships with the Cambridge Korean Church, Cambridge International Outreach, Youth With A Mission, Street Pastors, Central Language School and ‘Jimmy’s’ Night Shelter, to name six of many. I’ve also been thrilled to see the beginning of a friendship growing between St A’s and Calvary Chapel. I’ve had the joy of getting to know Joey Rozek (Calvary’s minister) for a few months. On many occasions, I’ve valued Joey’s prayers and insightful encouragement – he has a knack for drawing alongside me to offer a helping hand at just the right moment. Very recently, Joey and I did a ‘pulpit swap’. It was great to preach and have fellowship with the Calvary congregation at The Cass Centre. I’m happy that so many folks have spoken me to express how much they enjoyed meeting with Joey at St A’s.
In the next couple of weeks we are planning on having a Sunday worship and outreach service, with our brothers and sisters from Calvary Chapel, on Parker’s Piece. We’re praying that it’ll be a sunny day, as we hope to have a picnic afterwards. More importantly, we’re praying that the Lord will use the occasion to call some more of the people of Cambridge into His kingdom. Please, dear reader, join with us in prayer for this service and please join us on the day. As a bare minimum, we have the prospect of making new Christian friends; perhaps, the Lord will do much more than that.
Christ has called us to ‘put out into the deep’ of Cambridge and let down our nets for a catch. I hope and pray that we will remember to signal our partners and rejoice together over a great catch for the Kingdom.