Worthy Doubters | Family Devotional | Constant Source Weekly
This year we are publishing the main section of a current issue of Constant Source Weekly to our blog each month. Each blog entry will include the main commentary for that week’s issue, questions to help you reflect and internalize the lesson, and connection points to help you engage with your family in conversations about the things you are learning about God. It is our hope that this would be a year where more families around the world prioritize seeking Christ together and would exhibit His life and love to those around them. If you want to take a look at last month’s issue, check out our post on baptism.
Read Luke 5:1-10
(Every Constant Source Weekly is inspired by four pieces of Scripture from all different parts of the Bible. One of those texts becomes the main foundation for the lesson and is interwoven throughout. Start by reading the text linked above.)
(Every Scripture reading is paired with a commentary section that explains the core themes of the passage, discusses the way the reading informs our faith, and helps interconnect all parts of the Bible. Read that next below.)
There are so many fascinating things going on in this passage. The story opens with Jesus commandeering a fishing vessel and crew. Obviously, this isn’t of any great concern for Luke because he doesn’t mention anything about the process other than Jesus asking them to row out a bit so He could sit down and teach. Then, Jesus finishes speaking and turns around to Simon (a lifelong fisherman) and commands him to go out further and to drop a fishing net. In blind faith and against his better judgment, Simon questions Jesus’s tactics but listens and finds himself with more fish than his boat can carry. Now, this could sound like the introduction to a message about how God knows better than we do, which is true and some of us need to hear that this week. However, instead, we are going to focus in on the second part of the passage because there is a movement, a four-step process, that we see in Simon Peter’s life that I believe is something that many of us have experienced at least in part. The hope is that when we have a similar experience to Simon, we would learn from his reaction.
The movement or process that we see here and echoed in our other readings begins with witnessing the greatness of God. This step happens in many unique ways and different places in our lives. For Simon, it begins in verse 3 when Jesus sits down in his boat. Often when we read the Bible, we forget that the people in the stories are interacting with a person that they most likely don't know to be God. Even if they knew something was special about Jesus, the fact that this man could be God was a preposterous idea. So when Jesus summons Simon over and commandeers his boat, it’s easy to assume that this was a trying moment for Simon. We don't know if Simon was willing to trust Jesus because of something he had heard before or because of Jesus' teachings, but Simon decides to obey Jesus, though not without questioning Him first. It’s important to pause briefly and recognize the exchange that Simon and Jesus have in verse 5. Simon is wary of following Jesus’s advice and voices his doubt but ultimately chooses obedience. Hold on to this and we will circle back in a moment. Finally, in verse 6, Simon is the beneficiary of a fishing miracle. He comes face to face with God’s greatness and now has a story that is more unfathomable than any fisherman’s tale you’ve ever heard. Simon experiences God’s abundant love and this moves him to respond.
In verse 8, Simon tells Jesus to leave. On first blush, this may seem like an extremely counterintuitive response to the greatest fish-finder that the world had ever seen. But when faced with the audacious generosity and counter-cultural love of God, Simon can’t help but believe that he is unworthy. Have you ever experienced a moment like this? A moment when you find yourself speechless at receiving a gift that you know you don’t deserve or had never imagined? This is what was happening to Simon, so he exclaims, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8). Simon’s response is so important because, as was mentioned at the top, sometimes we find ourselves in the same situation as Simon saying the same things. The important thing to remember at this moment is that the process of redemption has only just begun, but I wonder how many of us stop there. How many of us dwell in our unworthiness?
After Simon’s response, Jesus reacts the way that God always reacts whether we are watching and listening for it or not. In verse 10, Jesus says, “so what, don’t worry about it, I am making you into something new” (my paraphrase). Since the very beginning, God has been interested in a relationship with us and has been doing everything possible to redeem our broken and sinful nature, so that we could be in that relationship once again. God continues to pursue us; The truth is that we are not actually unworthy, but we believe we are. This is our response when we see the glory of Jesus. This is our response when we realize the distance between who God created us to be and who we are now. Unworthiness is a symptom of realizing who we are and who we can be. The great news is that God is in control and is willing to journey with us. God can handle our doubts, suspicions, and questions. In the same way that Simon doubted but still received that which Jesus had for him, God has something unimaginable for us too.
There is still one more part to this process. We have to move out of our feelings of unworthiness and into that which God has for us. We have to say yes to the journey. In verse 11, Luke tells us that they finished rowing their boats filled with fish to shore and then left everything to follow Jesus. I think it is safe to say that they literally left their fish-laden boats on the beach that day. The same men, Simon and his friends, who started out as unworthy witnesses to God’s glory decided to join Jesus on His journey and become faithful disciples. Whether you are new to Christianity or you’ve been on the journey a while, it’s important to remember that there will be times when we have doubts and where we sin and fall short of the life that God has for us. However, the important thing to remember is that Jesus is journeying with us and making us into something new. Our responsibility is to keep moving.
(The reflection section provides prompts to help you think through what God is teaching you and how it applies to the world around you. Take 3-5 minutes to ponder and respond to each question below. We recommend keeping a journal to write in, so that you can revisit it later.)
How has your upbringing or your experience in church influenced the way you handle doubt? Take a moment to write down your doubts and ask God to work in your life in spite of your doubt.
Have you ever responded to God with disbelief because you feel unworthy? Has that ever kept you from continuing to pursue your relationship with Jesus or left you wondering if you can actually be different?
If God is always calling us into the next part of our journey, what is God calling you to move into next? Who are you now, and what things are keeping you from being who God wants you to be?
(This section provides tools and starting points to discuss what you’ve learned and processed through above with your family.)
Pray: “Lord God, help us to remember that despite the hard things we face this week or the mistakes that we make that we are loved by you. Go before and show us what you have for us this week. We love you, Lord. Amen.”
Wonder: Read this story with your kids and then reread verse 8. Ask your kids why they think that Simon told Jesus to leave. Wonder together about a time when embarrassment has elicited the same response in them or in you. Explain that even though Simon was embarrassed, Jesus stayed by his side at that moment.
Share: With your older kids, reread verses 4-5 and talk about the way that Simon questioned Jesus. Tell your kids that it is okay to have questions sometimes and then share with them an example of when you have questioned something you thought God was doing in your life.
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