Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4
Thesis: Jesus' reaction to people depends entirely upon whether His dealings with them bring them to soul-honesty, or not.
Introduction: The paragraph that has been before us for a month now is a shocker. It is full of things that we would not typically expect. Jesus withdrawing from the imposing crowd; Jesus sitting down to teach a very large multitude; Jesus producing a fisherman's dream catch; Jesus accepting men who have been arrogant and rude; Jesus declaring that the lives of such men, as they knew them, were over. And the men are sufficiently "caught" in the net of Jesus' grace that they walk away from all that they have known and embraced as familiar in order to participate with Jesus in His Life.
This morning we are going to zero in on Luke's record of Simon Peter's "conversion". Luke tells us, in 18:10-14, that men go home justified when they come to God with a willingness to admit their sinfulness. This is not a promise to flippant "sinners", but it is a reality for those whose sins have become a matter of terrible fact. I have called this a record of Simon Peter's "conversion" because it is in this paragraph that we are told that Simon's sins "caught up with him" and he admitted it. This record exists for us so that we might begin to understand how Jesus reacts to people. He pushed the "imposers" away, but He took the "sinners" into His inner circle.
February 11, 2007
- I. How Great Was Simon's Sin?
- A. In the eyes of other men, not great.
- 1. He attended synagogue on the Sabbath.
- 2. He hosted Jesus in his home and was at the center of Jesus' Capernaum healing ministry.
- 3. He made a living in an acceptable way.
- 4. He was an acceptable man in his community.
- B. In his own eyes, overwhelming.
- 1. His sinfulness was such a burden that Jesus' provision of the fulfillment of a fisherman's dream brought him down.
- a. There is no explanation for the link between Jesus' provision of the fish and Peter's emotional melt-down except the reality of his own extreme burden of sin.
- 1) This reality is illustrated by Mark's record of Herod's murder of John.
- 2) This reality is what is behind Paul's frank claim in Romans 2:4.
- b. The notable reality is this: only those who are sufficiently burdened by their sins to "melt down" in the face of divine goodness ever really discover Jesus.
- 2. What was the nature of his sinfulness?
- a. First, he was a thorough-going legalist.
- 1) It was the cultural theology of the day.
- 2) It was his genetic heritage as "Simon" (I am a performer who can earn love by my abilities).
- 3) It was his own practice as he prided himself as superior to those around him.
- b. Second, he exuded a sarcastic contempt for others.
- 1) Luke put a single word in Simon's mouth in 5:5 that let's us see this.
- a) The word is translated "Master" [Epistatace].
- b) It is an "acceptable" word to apply to another when the impression of "respect" is intended.
- c) But, it is a word that only Luke uses and he never uses it except when the people from whose mouth it comes are operating out of their sinful state.
- i. Note Luke 8:45.
- ii. Even Luke 17:13 records it in the mouths of the ungrateful.
- d) In this text, the implication of Simon's words are: "Who are the fishermen here?"
- e) Interestingly, as soon as Simon becomes Peter (5:8) his word switches from "Master" to "Lord" [Kurios].
- 2) Luke told us that "Simon Peter" fell upon Jesus' knees in his "melt-down".
- a) This is the only time in the whole New Testament that someone does something to someone else's knees -- every other reference is to people bending their own knees to either pray or acknowledge the superior in their midst.
- b) The clear indication is that Jesus' knees are where Peter can fall on them -- i.e., He is sitting down with His legs sticking out in front of Him.
- i. This is interesting in that "sitting" is how Jesus "taught" (even when "sitting" would be abnormal -- like in a boat with a huge multitude wanting to hear what you have to say).
- ii. The implication is that Jesus was "teaching" Simon something and His "lap" was available if he learned it.
- c) The most obvious conclusion is that Simon's sarcastic contempt for others was the nature of his enormous sin (Proverbs 6:16-19).
- i. This is absolutely not a problem with men who have turned the Truth on its head.
- ii. This is absolutely the problem as far as God is concerned (as soon as Simon allowed it to come out, Peter was justified).
- 3) Luke told us that Simon Peter's anguish was stripped of all pretense.
- a) Luke uses another word that he alone used in the New Testament to describe why Peter acted as he did: he was "astonished".
- b) His explanation is that Peter said what he did because he was "astonished": this implies that Peter's words were not "thoughtful", they were simply the honest (finally) expression of a terrified soul.
- c. He expected nothing but rejection from Jesus.
- II. How Great Was Jesus' Grace?
- A. Luke tells us that "so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon".
- 1. James is the New Testament word for Jacob -- the Supplanter.
- 2. John is the word for Yahweh as gracious.
- 3. These two represent the continuum between the problem (Jacob) and the solution (John) as the "sons" of "My Endowment" (Zebedee)...sinners who become saints by the Gift.
- 4. The "partnership" was in more than fishing: it was also in the "problem" as John clearly demonstrates in 9:49.
- B. Jesus simply incorporates the men into His fantastic plan as "inner circle" people.