The Miraculous Catch of Fish

3He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” 5Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:3-5).

Try and imagine what it was like for Peter. He had been fishing all night (v. 5), and now after cleaning their nets of all weed, he was exhausted and wanted to go home. I suspect, also, that he was discouraged and disappointed with catching nothing, and that they were cleaning their nets because they were finished with them for that time.

When a fisherman comes back to port, it is such a disappointment to him to have caught no fish and admit to a failed fishing expedition, but this was exactly the situation with Peter. The very last thing he wanted to do was to go out into the boat again! He must have been tired after fishing all night, but since Jesus had healed his mother-in-law, he had no option but to respond graciously and obediently. He got into the boat with Jesus and pushed the boat out from the shore, threw down the anchor, and began to listen to Jesus’ talk. They were about to witness a miracle. While living in Israel for a year and a half, I got the opportunity to go out with the local Galilee fishermen from Tiberius, and I asked them why they fished during the night. They replied that it was impossible to catch anything during the day due to the clear water, the fish would see and avoid their nets. During the night the fish couldn’t see the net and could be caught easier.

God has a way of getting our attention. With Peter, it was a huge amount of fish just when he had begun to think that they had overfished the Sea of Galilee to such an extent that now nothing could be caught at the best time of the night. There was a progression of things that he had witnessed, e.g. the demon being cast out in the synagogue, his mother-in-law being healed in front of him, a full evening of amazing healings and deliverances of many people from sicknesses and demons, and now an amazing, impossible event that showed him the reality that Jesus really can do remarkable things when people will walk in obedience to Him. The Lord told Peter to go out into the deep water. The Sea of Galilee measures a depth of 200 feet. There’s no way, Peter probably thought, that his nets would go anywhere near down to those depths, and during the hot part of the day, that would be where the fish would be keeping cool. That would require a lot of net, which is very unlikely that he had, the impossibility of fishing out in the deep and during the day was befire Peter, but because Jesus had said so, he stepped out in obedience. Jesus was a builder/carpenter. What did He know about where the fish were and how to catch them? Peter was not expecting to catch one fish. After all, he was the expert when it came to fishing. What would this carpenter-come-rabbi, know about fishing? It was a good thing that Peter obeyed, despite his doubts.

6When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. 8When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. 11Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him (Luke 5:6-11).

That day Jesus was after catching more than fish. He wanted to catch men. He caught them bit by bit. First, He asked if He could sit in their boat and talk to the people. Then, He asked Peter to put out a little from shore. Then, He asked them to row out into the deep water and let down the nets for a catch (v. 4). He involved them in a miracle. Jesus didn’t have to catch fish. He had much bigger things on His mind. We need to be involved with Him in His enterprise to win the lost.

Keith Thomas

The Raising of Lazarus

38Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39“Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” 40Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go” (John 11:38-44).

Jesus commanded the disciples and those gathered there to roll back the stone from the entrance. Martha, still unbelieving, complained that the smell of death would be very strong since Lazarus had been dead for four days. I wonder if there was an odor coming from the tomb? There couldn’t have been an airtight seal on the door; it was only a rock-hewn door. We must ask ourselves at what point did the miracle take place? As they moved back the stone, it is highly likely that there was still the stench of death coming from the tomb. After Lazarus had come back to life, we are told that many of the Jews who were there to witness this miracle, put their faith in Him. The Lord looked up to heaven and prayed to His Father, before calling out to Lazarus with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” (verse 43). If He did not refer to Lazarus by name, those Jews may have witnessed all those who were dead in the vicinity coming out of the graves, back from the dead!

Can you imagine looking at the crowd around the tomb at that moment? As we look at the faces of those who heard the commanding words of Jesus, what do you think they were thinking? It’s easy for us because we know the details. We already know the end of this story. But for them, when they heard the command of Jesus, I’m sure there were plenty who smelled death and scoffed at the thought of Lazarus coming out of that tomb. One thing is sure, when Lazarus stood at the door there were gasps of astonishment, and screams of delight. Death had been conquered! We have a Savior that conquers death and the grave!

It would have been difficult for Lazarus to stand, let alone walk due to the bandage-like wrappings that were around him. The Israelites at the time were not practitioners of Egyptian embalming techniques; the bodies were allowed to decompose. What they did do, however, was to wrap the body in aromatic spices. Merrill Tenney, in his book, The Reality of the Resurrection, tells us about the customary procedure for the burial:

The body was usually washed and straightened, and then bandaged tightly from the armpits to the ankles in strips of linen about a foot wide. Aromatic spices, often of a gummy consistency, were placed between the wrappings or folds. They served partially as a cement to glue the cloth wrappings into a solid covering. When the body was thus encased, a square piece of cloth was wrapped around the head and tied under the chin to keep the lower jaw from sagging.[1]

Afterwards, I wish John had told us more about the celebration back at Martha’s. Instead of reminiscing about the life of Lazarus, they are avidly listening to his experience of dying and being with the Lord in heaven. I wish that I could have been a “fly on the wall” at that party! I would have loved to hear their conversation, see the relief and delight of the sisters as they wept and embraced their brother, recounting the whole episode from the time they thought they had lost him for good, to the time when he came forth at Jesus’ command. I’m sure there was quite a praise party to the Lord. It will be the same for us at the resurrection of the saints, we will look upon the face of Jesus, when we too are raised from the dead. What a day that will be! I hope you are living for that day! Keith Thomas

[1] Merril C. Tenney, The Reality of the Resurrection (New York, NY: Harper and Row Publishers, 1963, Page 117.

The Healing of the Blind Man, Bartimaeus

35As Jesus was approaching Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging. 36Now hearing a crowd going by, he began to inquire what this was. 37They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. 38And he called out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39Those who led the way were sternly telling him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40And Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him; and when he came near, He questioned him, 41“What do you want Me to do for you?” And he said, “Lord, I want to regain my sight!” 42And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him, glorifying God; and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God (Luke 19:35-43).

He must have heard testimony about Jesus at some time, because when he was told it was Jesus of Nazareth, his response was to call out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Notice that he called Him the Son of David, a title for the Messiah (Messiah is the Hebrew word for Christ; it means God’s Anointed One).

Mark, in his gospel, tells us that the blind man’s name was Bartimaeus. Faith and desperation rose up within him as he shouted out to Jesus. Some on the outskirts of the crowd could not hear the master teach over the beggar’s shouting, so they rebuked him and told him to be quiet, possibly because they thought he wanted money from Jesus. Bartimaeus could not be kept quiet by those around Christ. A different Greek word is used the second time he shouted, in verse 39, it is translated: “he shouted all the more,” the Greek word used is krazō, which means to scream or shriek.[1] The tense of the Greek brings out the fact that he kept on shouting and screaming. He would not shut up. The picture we get is of a man going crazy with emotion. There is desperation behind Bartimaeus’ voice. If there was ever a picture of one that sought Christ with all of his heart, this was it. Bartimaeus’ had this one opportunity and he was not going to let Jesus go by without doing all in his power to get his need met.

If you saw Jesus walking by today, would you scream your need? If not, what would hold you back? Whatever Jesus was teaching while walking, it was forgotten due to a persons need. Don’t ever think that Jesus does not have time for you in your need. He cares and will hear your cry if you will seek Him with all your heart. As people led him stumbling to Jesus, it was pretty obvious what his need was, so why did Jesus ask him what he wanted?

Often Christ waits for us to put into words exactly what we want. He is looking to see how much of our heart is in what we desire Him to do for us. Fervency of heart is something that Bartimaeus had. The ability to call and not be put off by distractions, people, and things, is of the essence in a prayer life that is effective. Jesus found a man in great need and He would not pass by. When the man voiced his need to the Lord, the immediate words in response were: “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you” (Verse 42).

It’s not faith in faith that healed Bartimaeus, it is faith in Christ. His faith was expressed not only through his actions by coming to Christ, but also by his ability to not be put off. There was a mixture of faith in his words, his acts, and his passion or fervency. All He waits for is your heart felt call, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Would you tell Him your need today? He hasn’t changed. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). What He did for Bartimaeus, He can do for you. When Jesus had finished saying the words, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you,” the blind man’s eyes were opened to see…The Savior of the World, Jesus, God in the flesh. Wouldn’t that be awesome! Imagine with me, many of us reading these words, will one day have eyes of flesh close for the last time, and spiritual eyes open to the same sight, Jesus the Christ. We will gaze on His loveliness and majesty, and all the pain of this life will be gone. What an awesome day that will be! Keith Thomas

[1] e.Sword.com

Ten Healed of Leprosy

11Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.  17Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well” (Luke 17:11-19).

Why would Jesus send the ten lepers to the priests unhealed, instead of healing them on the spot? It’s interesting to see that Jesus required them to do what a cured leper would do even though they were not healed yet. He required them to take steps of faith and trust in the Word of Jesus. Lepers were commanded to stay at a distance and ring a bell when anyone got anywhere near to warn them. Of course, they were outside the community which is where they saw Jesus. There was no touch, and very little communication, He just told them to go to the priest to get checked out. There may have been a priest in the nearest town, but it more than likely meant that they were to travel to the Temple to see the priest there and get a pronouncement of health to be readmitted into society. This required faith, because they were not yet healed. They were only healed as they were on the journey. As they started on their journey, it would have seemed stupid to them to go and get a healed certificate when their faces and limbs were contorted with Leprosy. One of them was a Samaritan, a person that the Jews did not normally associate with, although we find them together in their misery.

What do you think was on the mind of the Samaritan as he started on the way to the Temple? Could it be that he might have been suspicious of Jesus? Why would this Jewish preacher want to heal an enemy Samaritan? I wonder if he thought that the healing would not work for him, due to the animosity between the Jews and Samaritans. He certainly would not want to go to Jerusalem, the Samaritans worshiped on Mount Gerizim in Samaria. Imagine his surprise that while he is walking, his fingers start to grow and his toes suddenly fill his shoes. He feels that the skin on his face is soft and that his nose has grown out again. He was ecstatic with praise to God and could not contain himself. He left the company of the others and returns to find Jesus and thank Him. This man knew how to give thanks. He shouted loudly to God as he approached Jesus and threw himself on the ground lavishly shouting his praise. How that must have warmed the Lord’s heart!  Let’s never forget to thank the Lord for all he does for us.

Let me issue you a challenge: Think of a situation in your life which needs resolution, it may be an impossible thing to you, but dare to believe that God can work through your simple faith. Is anything too hard for the Lord? Call out to Him and ask Him for faith to believe that He will accomplish what you ask of Him. Then praise Him, loudly!

Keith Thomas

The Healing of the Man with Dropsy

1One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. 2There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. 3Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 4But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away. 5Then he asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” 6And they had nothing to say (Luke 14:1-6).

The Greek word that is translated carefully watched literally means to watch on the side or to watch insidiously. In other words, they were watching out of the corner of their eyes, hoping to catch Jesus on something that He said or did. Was this a set up? I can’t imagine that this Pharisee had it in his heart to invite this man with dropsy to enter his home without a reason; somehow, I don’t think the man’s health was the motive. Luke tells us that it was a “prominent Pharisee” that had invited Jesus. The Pharisees were known for their opposition to him, yet the Lord still reaches out to them around a table of food.

Let’s try to enter the life and pain of the man with dropsy. Today, this condition is called edema. It is a swelling up of parts of the body to grotesque sizes, due to fluid buildup. We could say that he was drowning in his own body fluid. Edema is often caused by organ failure, the heart, kidney or liver. With such a sickness, he was not far from death. We are not told what parts of his body had swelled up, but it was obviously visible to all that were there. If it was in the legs, he would have found it very difficult to walk or even to stand. He was not cared for by the religious crowd; their only interest was to use him to trap Jesus. The Lord saw the ambush coming. This poor, sick man was just the bait in the trap of the Pharisees. The common thinking of the religious elite concerning the poor, sick, and ill, was that their sin was being visited on them by God.

Christ’s heart went out to the man. He would not compromise His value that people come first.  People are precious to Jesus. What would He do? The room grew very quiet as Jesus took up their challenge. The Pharisees believed that one could only help someone on the Sabbath if that person’s life was in danger of being lost.

Jesus shifted the focus of attention from Himself to the Pharisees and lawyers gathered. The Lord has a way of asking a question to make bare a person’s heart. Looking around at them, He said, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” (v. 3). The Greek word translated as lawful means to be authorized, permitted, or is it proper? He wasn’t asking if it was lawful according to the law of Moses. He was asking them to give their opinion on what was proper. They did not anticipate this question. They were perplexed as to how to respond. If they would have spoken up against healing on the Sabbath in front of this very needy man, the state of their calloused hearts would have been revealed, and no-one would have come to that synagogue again! Neither did they want to give Him permission to heal on the Sabbath after thinking that they had Him in a trap. They knew that the Scriptures has no limitations to acts of compassion on the Sabbath.

4But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away. 5Then he asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” 6And they had nothing to say (Luke 14:4-6).

He appealed to their common sense, saying that if their animal was drowning in a well, wouldn’t they get it out? He was first appealing to their economic need, implying that they would have to buy another ox if they wanted to plow their fields. Then, again, if their son had fallen down a well and was drowning, wouldn’t they do what they could to save their son from drowning? This man before them had been drowning in his own fluid, and he was someone’s son. Shouldn’t this son be released from drowning? The passage ends with Luke telling us that they had nothing to say. How cold-hearted false religion can be. Keith Thomas