“At Your word…”

A life-changing experience: it was not just a fisherman who made such an experience 2000 years ago. People can still make them today. It just depends on how we encounter Jesus Christ.

It was a life-changing encounter: Peter had been out fishing all night and had caught nothing. And then Jesus came along and asked him to push off a little from the shore so that the crowds could see Him better. When He had finished preaching to the people on the shore, He told Peter to take the boat into deep water and let down their nets again. Decisive for Peter was not the miraculous catch, but the fact that he became a fisher of men.

“What can we learn from this story?” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider asked on 11 September 2021 during a youth service in Água Creola (São Tomé) that was based on Luke 5: 4–5: “When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, ‘Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’ 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.’”

The Chief Apostle had five responses ready:

“We serve the Lord without stipulating conditions.” Peter had not asked for help, but immediately put himself at Jesus’ service. The Chief Apostle said that all children of God are called to serve the Lord by doing good to their neighbour, by committing themselves in His work, and by proclaiming the gospel.

“Jesus knows our needs and will provide for us!” He saw to Peter as soon as He had completed His mission. “People are like that: they ask others for help and as soon as this person can do nothing for them any more, they dump them.” Jesus, on the other hand: “He wants to offer us salvation, He wants to save us. But He also looks after us and provides for us in our daily lives. Dear brother, dear sister, you can come to Him and tell Him all your wishes.”

“We work according to the will of God.” The Lord’s help not been to bring fish to Peter, but to tell him what he had to do so that he could catch them. “Those who have to make a living must be serious about school, their studies, and their jobs. Those who want to be happy in their families and with their friends must foster these relationships. And, for the salvation of our soul, too, it is important: “You have to do your part. You have to work, you have to fight against evil, you have to get rid of what does not please God. That is your job, and not the good Lord’s job.”

“We trust in the word of God…” Jesus blessed Peter’s work, because he did exactly what was asked of him—even if seemed strange. “The Lord promised us that He will return to take His own with Him. How is that supposed to happen?” Or: “Look at all that is happening in the New Apostolic Church. How can you believe that this is the work of God?” And finally: “People tell us: You know, you don’t have to take the Commandments so literally. If you are always honest, you won’t get anywhere in life.” However: “Let’s trust in the Lord even if it goes against our reason and against the opinion of the majority.”

“… and seek fellowship with Him.” The fishermen were so impressed by the huge catch of fish they brought in that the most important thing for them from then on was to follow the Lord. “If we serve the Lord, we will experience the help of God in daily life. And all of a sudden, the Giver will become more important than what He gives us in earthly life. The most important thing will then become that we will be with the Lord eternally and can already be so close to Him on earth.”

“We proclaim the gospel in word and deed.” Jesus made Peter a fisher of men. “Casting the net means that we proclaim the gospel in word and deed. Of course, the thought comes up: “It’s no use anyway, people don’t want anything to do with Apostles nowadays.’ Then think of Peter: he had caught nothing and the Lord told Him: “Let your nets down again, then it will work.’”

The Chief Apostle summarised as follows:: “God calls us and wants us to serve Him. But He also provides for us. And in order to receive His blessings and gifts, we must work according to His will. We trust in His word. We always seek fellowship with Him. We want to proclaim the gospel. And I can assure you: the Lord will bless your endeavours.”

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Andreas Rother
São Tomé, Chief Apostle, Divine service