2015, Oil on Canvas, 18in x 24in
“One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret [Sea of Galilee], with the people crowding around him and listening to the Word of God, he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets” (Luke 5:1-2)
Sometimes I begin a painting with a specific memory or photograph. Often I begin with a part of Scripture as inspiration. Yet other times I begin with a theme such as water and simply begin covering the canvas anticipating this theme will develop into a story. Sure enough, Water’s Edge began to take form as I painted from countless memories growing up on Lake Minnetonka. Praying as I worked and habitually pausing to read God’s Word, the scene of sailboats at sunset began to unfold and I was surprised by the story that surfaced.
Prior to painting, I drew a quick sketch of a lake scene that was compositionally appealing. There was no story, just an idea. One morning during my quiet time, I stumbled on the story in Luke 5 when Jesus called His first disciples. After reading it, I ran up to my painting studio and re-read verses one through eleven gazing at my current, nearly finished lake painting. Unbeknownst to me, I had been painting this story from the very beginning.
“Jesus 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” (Luke 5:3).
I believe it is significant and intentional that Jesus chose to get into Simon’s boat. This fisherman is the same man who was renamed Cephas (Peter) by Jesus, who walked on water, who declared Jesus as Messiah in Caesarea Philippi, who was given the keys of the kingdom of heaven, who saw the transfiguration of Jesus, Moses, and Elijah on the mountain top, and who on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion denied Him three times. Jesus chose to take Simon’s boat to preach the Word of God. Later in life, Simon would be the one preaching the Word of God to many nations.
“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4).
This was Jesus’ first of many callings for Simon to display the mighty power and glory of God. Simon, a simple fisherman, was chosen by the Son of God not only to carry out his miracles while Christ was on earth, but he was also commissioned to be the rock on which Christ’s church would later be build (Matthew 16:18). God uses the ordinary people of this world to carry out His extraordinary plan with an eternal purpose.
“Simon 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 5:5).
Simon no doubt thought Jesus’ directive didn't make sense, but he obeyed anyway and was rewarded for his obedience. Normally in the Sea of Galilee, the fish that were netted in the shallow waters at night would migrate during the daylight hours to waters too deep to reach easily with nets, which is why Simon fished at night. God frequently calls His followers to do seemingly impossible, outrageous tasks to display His mighty work. Simon displayed an act of courage as he let down the nets in the sight of his fellow fishermen and the people on the shore. Courage is not an absence of fear but an act of trusting in God’s strength. Christians are repeatedly prompted to step out in faith and obedience to accomplish God’s work pointing to His eternal glory.
Having fished all night and caught nothing, I suspect feelings of failure may have tempted Simon to reject Jesus’ calling to get back in his boat. Discouragement is one of the Devil’s most used and effective tools for causing disobedience. Nevertheless, Simon answered Christ, “Because you say so, I will let down my nets.” God’s unfailing glory is put on display when His sons and daughters obey in the face of impossible circumstances.
“When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So 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” (Luke 5:7).
In contrast to the failure to catch anything the night before, Christ provided such a wealth of fish that multiple boats began to sink. When the Lord’s blessings are as abundant as this catch, call friends and family to share in the overflow of His goodness and grace! The remarkable catch of fish was clearly a miracle, astonishing to all the fisherman and people in Capernaum.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).
Ascribe to God that which comes from Him so that others may see His goodness and praise Him in their hearts.
“When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’ For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners” (Luke 5:8-10).
Simon attributed the miracle of Jesus as the work of the Lord. Recognizing he was in the presence of the Son of God, Simon immediately confessed his sin. Why was this his first response?
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:14-15).
Jesus was fully human, tempted in every way, yet without sin. In the face of Jesus’ perfection, Simon’s own sin-stained life was made obvious, and he professed his unworthiness to stand in the Lord’s presence.
“Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.’ So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him” (Luke 5:10-11).
Simon’s own guilt, shame, and sin left him feeling undeserving. He knew his life was not a picture of holiness, but praise be to God that we are not saved by our own righteousness!
“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:22-24).
Jesus called, redeemed, and sanctified Simon to leave his previous life in exchange for a new life. His old life was characterized by sin, failure, and disgrace. His new life in Christ illustrated forgiveness, victory, and mercy. Water’s Edge embodies this invitation of freedom and victory through belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.