Obedience Is a Choice
I doubt that many of us would consider some of the minor decisions we make each day and wonder whether they contain some hint or clue to the future. Often we make choices based on what we think or we feel is right. The interest rates are low; therefore, it must be the right time to purchase a house. We have driven our car for almost 10 years; it is time to get another one. We have just had our second child; therefore, we need another bedroom plus a home office. We have worked at the same business for years, and the new CEO is not very understanding; it must be time to move on to the next place. Some of these statements are reasonable, but only if the outcome or the choice is one that God initiates.
Peter was faced with a life-changing decision (see Luke 5
). The outcome of his choice would determine his future. Jesus had been preaching along the shore of the lake of Gennesaret (the Sea of Galilee). I imagine the crowd was quite large. His ministry was growing; word had spread about how He had healed those who were sick with various diseases (Luke 4:40
). By the time Luke reached chapter 5 in his account of Christ’s earthly ministry, it was obvious that the people were hungry to hear Jesus preach and to be near Him. On more than several occasions, I have spoken to large groups of people and watched as they began to move forward. The people in the back leaned in to hear, and in doing so, they pushed against the ones in the front. With His back to the water and the people “pressing” on Him, Jesus had no place to go (Luke 5:1
). Peter the fisherman was also there, listening to some degree as he mended his nets in preparation for going back out on the lake later that evening. It was an odd request, but when Jesus asked the fisherman to allow Him to enter the boat and then to move it off shore a short distance, he agreed. That was Peter’s first step toward obedience.
The point that I want to make here is that obedience is a process. It is not a gift. Salvation is a gift. God’s grace demonstrated toward us is a gift He gives each one of us when we accept Him as our Savior. This amazing gift of unconditional love is not something we can work to achieve. Obedience is different, however. God doesn’t necessarily want us to work to achieve it; He wants it to be our first nature. We obey Him because of who He is. In the last chapter I mentioned that partial obedience is not obedience. After all, how can we halfway obey God?
Either Peter did what Jesus requested, or he said no. Here Peter said, “Yes,” but notice what else he said: “[Jesus] got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat. When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’ Simon answered and said, ‘Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets’” (Luke 5:3-5
). In these verses, we are given an outline of obedience. Many times, the ways of God include specific steps, and we find some in Luke 5.