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GSFA Devotional: Bread for Our Journey

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Lenten Devotion (3) 

16 March 2022 

 

The Cost of Discipleship  

 

Reading:  Luke 5:1-11 

 After defeating the devil in the wilderness, Jesus revealed Himself and His mission on earth at the synagogue in Nazareth. He said “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” Luke 4:18 

Yet Jesus’ message was rejected in His own hometown. Jesus then went to Capernaum in the Galilee region where he performed many miracles of healing and casting out demons. 

 

People in Capernaum adored Jesus unlike His own people in Nazareth. “So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret.” Luke 5:1 Jesus saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Luke 5:2 Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. Luke 5:3 

After He gave His sermon, Jesus said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Luke 5:4 

But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless, at Your word I will let down the net.” Luke 5:5 

Notice here what Simon said, “we caught nothing” i.e. we are experienced fishermen but we failed. Notice here that Jesus is coming to them at the time of their failure. This was not the first time Jesus came at a time of Peter’s failure. 

Peter probably said to himself, Rabbi, you are good in teaching and preaching but fishing is our profession, and we are skilled in it. However, he obeyed, and when he let down the net, he was also letting down his pride. 

And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. Luke 5:6. So 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. Luke 5:7. At this moment things started to change with Peter and these are: 

  1. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Luke 5:8. In the presence of God, he discovered his sinfulness. It is only when we draw near to God, we can discover our fallen human nature. 

    Isaiah screamed in the presence of God’s glory and said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 6:5 
     

  2. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid.” Fear comes as a result of being aware of our sinful nature and get close to a holy, divine and mighty power like Jesus. Light is a great threat to what happens in the dark. 
     

  3. Jesus said to Simon: “From now on you will catch men.” Luke 5:10 . Here Jesus is drawing the attention of Simon away from the catch and the prosperity to something more meaningful, the Kingdom of God. This was fulfilled at the day of Pentecost when Peter preached and 3000 people came to Christ. He caught many men and women for the kingdom of God. 
     

  4. So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him. Luke 5:11. Simon Peter at this point realized that following Jesus as a disciple is the best he can do in his life. He realized that following Jesus is the way to eternal life. He decided to follow Jesus at a time when he achieved the greatest success in his own career. However, he knew that there is a cost for discipleship he had to pay. He forsook all. Jesus said if you want to follow me, you have to count the cost. 
     

Let me end with a quote from The Cost of Discipleship which is a book by the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who said: “Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." 

We all know that following Jesus was very costly for Peter. He was persecuted, imprisoned and crucified upside down. 

Contributed by:
The Most Revd Dr Mouneer Hanna Anis  

Archbishop Emeritus 

Episcopal/ Anglican Province of Alexandria