Sunday, June 22, 2014

God Uses the Unlikely To Accomplish the Impossible


On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets.Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he 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 signaled 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." For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men." And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.Luke 5:1-11 
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men." And immediately they left their nets and followed him.Mark 1:16-18

"God uses the unlikely to accomplish the impossible."
Author Unknown

The first quotes are biblical texts describing Jesus calling Simon Peter and his brother Andrew to be disciples.  The third quote is an anonymous quote that a friend sent me.  He sent me this quote because he said that it really struck him because he believes God uses people like you and me to help others or answer prayers. He said that things that seem impossible to achieve or overcome, can be accomplished by unlikely means.  I think that God knows when we need a good friend to get through difficult times and somehow He finds ways to connect us.

The Apostle Peter may have been the most outspoken of the twelve apostles in Jesus’ ministry on earth. He certainly became one of the boldest witnesses for the faith.  His beginnings were certainly humble in origin.  He was born about 1 B.C. and died sometime around A.D. 67.

Peter was originally named Simon.  Jesus was the One Who changed Peter’s name. Peter means “rock” or literally Petra.  He was a Galilean fisherman and was the brother of Andrew.  The brothers came from the village of Bethsaida (John 1:43, 12:21).  Peter was married.  He was also a follower of John the Baptist.  Peter, like all humans before their calling, was a sinful man.  In fact he was ashamed of his sinfulness in the presence of Jesus Christ (Luke 5:6-8).  Peter was perhaps the very first disciple that Jesus called along with His brother Andrew.

Fishermen at that time were gruff, unkempt, vile, shabbily dressed, and often used vulgar language.  The fishermen of the first century were a man’s man.  They were full of vigor and had boisterous tempers.  This is perhaps why James and his brother John were called the Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17).  Their’s was a rough life since fishing was a very physically demanding job.  They must have been somewhat fearless too because some of the storms that came quickly upon the Sea of Galilee were fierce and furious.  They often caught the fishermen by surprise and could easily capsize the 20 to 30 foot boats they used.

Peter was always putting his foot in his mouth but one thing you could say about Peter was that when Jesus told them (Peter and Andrew) to “follow me” they simply walked away and left everything they had without a second thought (Luke 5:9-1).  Consider the fact that this meant that they left everything – all of their fishing boats, their fishing nets, and all the accessories that came with their trade.  How many today would be willing to leave their own business to follow Someone that had simply asked them to follow Him?

As mentioned earlier, Peter was among the first disciples called by Jesus and he was frequently their spokesman – for good or bad.  One thing that he is credited with is the special insight that he had concerning Jesus’ identity.  Peter was the first to call Jesus the Son of the Living God – the Messiah (Mark 8:29, Luke 9:20, Matt. 16:16-17).   When Jesus called him, Peter knew that He was of God and felt unworthy to be in Jesus presence (Luke 5:6-8).   Even so, Jesus did not hesitate and told Peter and Andrew that He would make them “fishers of men” (Mark 1:17).

Peter was bold but often times in the wrong.  Once he even rebuked the Lord and said that he was willing to die for Jesus even though at the arrest and trial of Jesus he denied Him three times (Matt. 16:21-22).  Jesus loved the disciples and knew which of those whom would remain loyal to Him and those who would betray Him (Judas Iscariot).  Peter was an eyewitness to the many miracles that Jesus did.  This was where Jesus’ humanity was peeled back to reveal the glory of His Divinity (Matt. 17:1-9).

A disciple means a “follower of” and that is what most Christians actually are today.  An apostle is “one sent forth” in the sense of sent forth by God to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The biblical definition of an apostle and the only one’s that are called apostles in the New Testament had to be either with Jesus during His earthly ministry (like the disciples) or having seen the risen Christ (as did Paul who was taught three years in the desert by Jesus Christ Himself).

After Christ tells the disciples about the end of the age (Matt. 24) He gives them the charge or command of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20).  This is the very last thing that Jesus tells them (Acts 1:8) and from that point on the disciples (followers of Christ) become the apostles (those sent forth).  The designation of their being apostles was never used until after the Ascension of Christ (Acts 1) because before then, they were still following Jesus.  After Christ had ascended to the right hand of the Father and was seated there (signifying His earthly ministry was done – except through the apostles) He sent them forth to go to all ends of the earth to proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Peter was the first one to preach on the day of Pentecost after the coming of the Holy Spirit and he was the first one to proclaim Christ to a Gentile.  He was one of the boldest apostles of all.  He willingly suffered persecution, imprisonment, beatings, and even rejoiced at the fact that he was worthy to suffer disgrace for the Lord‘s sake (Acts 5:41).

In the days leading up to Peter’s death, almost all of the apostles had been martyred.  Did Jesus actually predict Peter’s death by crucifixion when He said that “when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and take you where you do not want to go” (John 21:18-19)?  The church historian Tertullian, Origen, and Eusebius state that Peter’s was stretched out by his hands, he was dressed in prison garb, he was taken where no one wanted to go (a crucifixion), and was crucified.  He was said to be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to be crucified in the way that the Lord Jesus Christ had been.

From an arrogant, cocky, man of thunder, he became a humble, willing, obedient servant of the Lord even to death. He rejoiced in that day of his death, knowing that he would be reunited with his beloved Savior.  This was a lifetime of 65 years – of which his last forty would be devoted to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.  In the Old Testament the number 40 was always a number of testing – and tested Peter was.  Peter passed in glorious colors and will be one of only 12 apostles that will rule with Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of Heaven.  The lowly fisherman became a mighty fisher of men – and one that changed and shaped the world forever and is still proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ through his gospel (written by Mark), the book of Acts, and through the epistles of 1 and II Peter.

A good deed or act of kindness can change the direction of peoples lives.  Just as Jesus did for Peter.  We will probably never make the drastic change that Jesus made in the life of Peter, but even a small change can make a difference if we just try, no matter how unlikely we believe it may be.

6 comments:

Travis Crockett said...

My friend Michael wrote a book, ELIJAH AND THE RAVENS OF CARITH, in which he talks about how God used ravens (unclean!) to bring nourishment to the prophet Elijah when he was hiding out during a drought. His point was that we never know whom or what God will use to provide what is needed.

Enjoy your blog!

EthanJM said...

So many times have my prayers or needs been answered by close friends. Just this past week I was having a particularly bad day and a good friend of mine called me and said I'd been on her mind all morning and she sensed something was wrong. She took me out to lunch and just talking things out with my thoughts and fears and concerns, she made me feel so much better. It was exactly what I needed. I believe that God puts people in our paths to help one another. I guess the key is for all of us to follow those impressions or senses and act upon them.

Jay M. said...

I believe an adjunct quote might be: "God helps those who help themselves." I am convinced that those who simply flail about helplessly need to help themselves as much as they need God's hand coming down and doing it for them. I absolutely believe God uses other men to answer prayers, and helps people in mysterious ways. But you need to try at least!

Peace <3
Jay

Amanda said...

Wonderful post. I know there are times we may be helping others and not even know it. :)

Anonymous said...

JB:

You and your blogs are truly an answer to my prayers.
There is too much to share for you to fully understand the godsend that you are. Suffice it to say that every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday eveining for the first eighteen impressionable
years of my life were spent at a COC service only to be told by my elder in the COC dad upon his figuring out my
S.O.that gays are an abomination, they should be emasculated if they cannot change, and of course Aids is God's curse to gays.

silvereagle said...

450Another of your g r e a t Sunday postings.....You will never be aware of the lives you touch each week....Most would say this website is used as others --"the unlikely to accomplish the impossible"!!!

Thanks....