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Midweek Devotionals

Published weekly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays.

Midweek Devotional 4/23/2015

Robert Chen

Dear Church:

 

http://www.presbyterianmission.org/devotion/daily/2015/4/23/

LUKE 5:1-11

1Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 7So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” 11When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

The clear consensus among New Testament scholars is that the main topic of Jesus' ministry and preaching is the "Kingdom of God." Whether in his teaching in parables or in his acts of supernatural power, Jesus is demonstrating the Kingdom of God -- what does it look like when God breaks into the human-natural scene in a new way?

 

Well, there is the forgiveness of sin, the restoration of our relationship with God, (and as we said before) healing and deliverance from unclean spirits. In addition, certain miracles -- like the large catch of fish above -- show us the overabundant characteristic of God's Kingdom. Six, large stone jars of water were turned into wine (John 2:1-11), twelve baskets full of broken bread and fish were collected after 5000 were fed (Mark 6:43), and parables that liken the Kingdom to a wedding feast all point to the fact that when God breaks in, He breaks in "with style." (No, you won't read the actual words 'with style' in the text of the Bible but that's not an improper way of understanding of how God breaks in.)

 

God's "style" is -- let's use some synonyms of 'overabundant' -- boundless, dizzying, extravagant, extreme, immoderate, limitless, prodigal, superabundant, unreasonable. This last word is interesting since what's typically "reasonable" is synonymous with what's "sufficient," nothing more/nothing less. Just right. You need $786.48? You'll get $786.48, nothing more, nothing less. Nothing wasted. Nothing extra. Not overflowing but 1/4 inch under the brim.

 

But the Kingdom of God that Jesus preaches and demonstrates does not fit this bill. Jesus does not calculate to the last dollar and cent. He does not take out his tip calculator and give the waitress 18% for her good service. He gives generously, because God's grace itself is generous. There is a certain extravagance to how God operates. Extravagant with His mercy and forgiveness, with His love and joy, and with all manners of blessings -- material and otherwise.

 

The overabundant characteristic of God's Kingdom creates joy and delight. It's like being at a great party where food is abundant and there's enough for everyone. You don't have to worry about leaving that last piece of Salisbury steak for the person behind you. You can eat as much as you want!

 

The miracle of overabundance is interpreted by Peter as a divine sign, the work of a Holy God. Peter's personal response to seeing the too many fish bursting at the seams of the net was to worship Jesus. The overabundance made Peter think of holiness -- the holiness of Jesus in contrast to his sinfulness. This extravagance of God has nothing to do with "showing off" or conspicuous consumption or capitalism or materialism. God, being the extravagant-overabundant Triune Being that He is, cannot but give of Himself in anti-stingy, prodigal, supererogatory ways. 

 

So when the Kingdom of God comes into our lives, we too get swept up by God's generous ways and we ourselves become less tight with our money, time, and energy. We become like the Lord and we offer ourselves to others in "more than enough" ways. We create joy and delight in others through our overabundant hospitality as the Spirit enlarges our hearts and as the Spirit stirs those good feelings of joy and delight in others. The Kingdom of God is beautiful. 

 

Let's pray: Lord Jesus, we thank you for the overabundant, extravagant ways of your Kingdom. Such ways tell us that you are rich! Rich in love, power, and provisions. Which makes sense since you are the Creator. May we enter into the wealth of your Kingdom today. We pray for ourselves, family, and friends, especially for those in need. And may we ourselves become generous givers who move in your characteristic goodness and extravagance. In your name, Amen.

 

Blessings,

pjohn