Sunday Sermon: ‘The Salvation of Simon Peter’

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This morning I want to teach you one of the great stories found in the Bible. It’s the story of Simon’s Salvation and it’s found in Luke 5.

I. Simon’s Story

Luke 5:1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.

A. The Crowd

Jesus often drew large crowds wherever He went. No doubt many flocked to Him for His miracles. Scripture says that He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and even on a few occasions – He raised the dead.

Yet on this day the people came for a different reason. The Bible says that they pressed upon Him “to hear the Word of God.” Though many sought only the miracles, others wanted the message. The Bible says that Jesus spoke as one who had authority and not merely as another religious teacher. (see Mt 7:28-29) I am quite certain that there was great power in the words Jesus spoke and I look forward to hearing Him teach in heaven.

We read in Luke 15 of another day when a large group gathered to hear Jesus teach. Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.” (Luke 15:1) Here were some of the most sinful people in that society, yet they were drawn to Jesus. I believe that there are at least a couple of reasons for why they wanted to be near Jesus.

1. I believe that they were searching for something to satisfy the void in their soul.

Centuries ago there was a young man by the name of Augustine. Augustine would have fitted in well into much of today’s society. He loved to party and he lived a life of gross immorality. But Augustine had a godly mother who prayed for her son’s salvation and one day God answered her prayers. God saved Augustine. Later Augustine prayed this prayer to God – “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Someone has said that there is a ‘God-shape hole in every man’s heart that only God Himself can fill.’ That should not surprise us. The Bible teaches us that God created man ‘in His own image.’ Scripture also teaches us that God created us for His own glory and pleasure. The only way a person will ever find true happiness and fulfillment in life is when they are living in the center of our Maker’s will.

2. I believe that the people sensed that Jesus loved them.

Jesus did not love their sinful lifestyles. Yet He loved their souls and He desired more than anything else to save them. Jesus said that He had come to ‘come to seek and to save that which was lost.’ (Luke 19:10) My friend, God loves you more than you’ll ever know.

B. The Catch

Luke 5:4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.

1. The Miracle of Catching Fish

This part of the story is almost funny. Simon Peter and his friends were seasoned fishermen. This is how they made their living and therefore if anyone knew how to catch fish, it would be them. Yet they had fished all night and not caught one single fish. No doubt God was active just as much when the nets were empty, as when they were full.

Then, Jesus commanded them to launch out into the deep during the heat of the day. Everyone knew that the fish would be much deeper now than their nets could reach. Yet, with one single word, Jesus caused them to catch more fish than their boats could hold.

2. The Miracle of Catching Men

Perhaps Jesus was rewarding Simon and his friends for the lend of their boat and the use of their time. Yet Jesus also had a greater purpose. Jesus Himself went fishing that day. He was not fishing for fish. He was fishing for men.

What was Simon Peter doing while Jesus sat in his boat and taught? The Bible says that they were washing their nets. But in addition, they were listening. How could they not listen? Jesus is right there in front of them.

The Bible doesn’t tell us what Jesus taught that day, but we can imagine. Perhaps it was one of the Lord’s stories like the parable of the Prodigal Son.

The Bible says that a man had two sons and one day one of his sons asked for his portion of the family inheritance. The father gave the son what he requested and soon the son took off and wasted all of his money with wild living. As the story continues, the boy’s money soon ran out and he found himself with nothing or no one to care for him. He eventually became so desperate that he was tempted to eat slop with the hogs.

Perhaps at this point in the story Simon was stirred to think about his own life. We don’t know for sure what Simon was like before he met Jesus, but we can pretty well imagine. He was a rough and tough fisherman. He made his living staying up all night and sleeping all day. His friends were rough and tough fishermen as well and I’m sure that during the course of their long nights together there was a lot of cursing and dirty jokes. Yes, there were dirty jokes even two thousand years ago. Perhaps on some occasions, at least when there was a good catch, he and his friends  took off and got drunk. Perhaps at this point in the story Simon thought about the emptiness in his heart.

As Jesus continued to tell the story, He told of how the son one day came to himself and decided to return home and ask for his father’s forgiveness. To the son’s surprise, the father not only forgave him, but lavished upon him his love.

C. The Conviction

Luke 5:6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.

8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: 10 And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon.

 Simon was not saying, “Lord, I want nothing to do with you.” He was saying, “Lord, I am unworthy to have anything to do with you. I and that sinful son who has been eating with the pigs.

Luke 5:10 …And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. 11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

 II. Simon’s Sinfulness

A. Our Sinfulness

Almost always, whenever I share the gospel with someone, I begin with Romans 3:23. The Bible says – For all have sinned , and come short of the glory of God.” All have sinned. That means you and it means me. The Bible also says – There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10) There is no one who is going to stand before God one day and say – “I’m worthy to enter into heaven.” There’s no one who is making themselves worthy of eternal life.

How sinful are we? The Bible says that we’re more sinful than we realize. Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Many people do not see themselves as being that sinful, primarily because they estimate their sinfulness by comparing themselves with those around them and their lifestyles. “I may not be perfect, but I’m not that bad.” It’s like two men who both went up to the Temple one day to pray.

Luke 18:10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a dishonest tax collector. 11 The proud Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else, especially like that tax collector over there! For I never cheat, I don’t sin, I don’t commit adultery, 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ NLT

 Just like the Pharisee, we might say: “I don’t steal. I don’t kill. I don’t cheat on my spouse.” “I’m not that bad of a person.”

In contrast, consider the prayer of the tax collector:

Luke 18:13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’

Suppose this was the first time you had ever heard this story. Who would most people think would be the one who would go to heaven? A very, very religious man, or a party animal who made his living by robbing the poor? Consider what Jesus said:

Luke 18:14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For the proud will be humbled, but the humble will be honored.

 Why was the notorious sinner chosen over the religious man? Was it because sin isn’t really that bad? No my friend. It was because of the different attitude each of these men had towards themselves and towards God. The religious man brazenly looked up into heaven and boasted about his goodness. The sinful man bowed his head and beat his chest in remorse and said, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’

 What keeps most people from being saved? What will keep a man out of heaven? Often it’s his own sinful pride that tells him that he’s not that bad. Often when I share the gospel, people begin by trying to tell me how good they are. No one claims they are perfect, yet they want me to know what they have and haven’t done. Often they tell me how they don’t cheat or steal. Recently a man told me that the most he had ever stolen was a pencil. Then they try to tell me about their past history with the church. One day a man tried to tell me about the number of pins he earned in Sunday School for perfect attendance.

Yet Jesus said that He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Jesus can’t heal those who don’t realize that they are sick.

B. God’s Holiness

 How sick are we? How sinful are we? It is not by comparing ourselves to the worst in society that we begin to understand how sinful we really are. It’s by seeing ourselves in the light of God’s holiness.

To say that God is holy is to say that He is 100% pure and perfect in everything He says and does. The Bible says of God – “Your eyes are too pure to look at evil. You can’t stand to look at what is wicked.” (Habakkuk 1:13, author’s translation)

A lot of people think that we can go to heaven if we’re ‘pretty good.’ Ye the Bible says that nothing evil will ever enter into heaven, neither anyone who has done anything that is sinful. (see Revelation 21:27)

Have you ever tried to get dress in the dark? Ladies, can you imagine going to the closet and picking out an outfit while the room is still completely dark? Guys, could you pick out matching socks in the dark? I sometimes have a hard time in broad daylight.

What would happen if Jesus suddenly appeared in this room today? How would you respond if suddenly the secrets of your life was exposed by the light of God’s holiness? I can tell you what some men in the Bible did:

Simon Peter said – “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”

Isaiah the prophet said – “Woe is me! For now that I have seen God, I realize that I am lost and filthy.” (Isaiah 6:5 author’s translation)

John the Apostle fell to the ground like a dead man when he saw Jesus in heaven. (see Rev 1:17)

Why did these men react in this kind of way? It was because their lives were being exposed by the holiness of God. The Bible says that the eyes of God burn like fire. That does not mean that God’s eyes are on fire, but this His eyes are able to burn away the facade and see into the depths of our soul. The Bible says that God does not see us as other men see us. Men look on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.

What does God see when He looks at mankind?

The Bible says thou shalt not kill, and anyone who has ever had unjust anger and hatred in his heart towards another human being is guilty of murder.

The Bible says thou shalt not commit adultery, and anyone who has ever had lustful thoughts or impure affection for someone other than their mate is guilty of cheating on their spouse.

The Bible says thou shalt not love anything or anyone more than you love God, and anyone who desires something more than they God, is guilty of idolatry.

C. Why is it Important That We Realize Our Sinfulness?

The Bible says: “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13 NKJV)

The Bible says that God will resist the proud, but show favor to the humble. Consider:

1. The woman with the issue of blood

“She came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.”

“Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.”

2. The Canaanite woman who had a demon possessed daughter

“Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

“Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.”

3. The Thief on the Cross

“Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment?”

“We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!”

And Jesus said, “I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.”

The Bible says – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)

III. Simon’s Salvation

Simon realized his sinfulness. As a matter of fact, He saw himself as being too great of a sinner to be saved. Yet the Bible says: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (1 Timothy 5:8) Just think – the man who once saw him as the world’s greatest sinner turned out to be one of the world’s greatest Christians. How is this possible?

A. Christ Did Not Come to Condemn Us

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Jesus doesn’t have to condemn us because we’re already condemned.

John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

The Bible says that we all have sinned and that payment for our sin is death. That not only means physical death. It also means an eternal separation from God in a lake of fire.

B. Christ Came to Save Us

The Bible says:

1 Timothy 5:8 Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost .

Romans 6:23b …the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

John 3:16 …whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Conclusion

Jesus could have scolded Simon Peter that day over the kind of lifestyle he had been living. Yet He didn’t.

Luke 5:10 …And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. 11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

Jesus did not want to condemn Simon Peter. He wanted to save him and He wanted to use Him for His own glory. The Bible says that Simon and his friends forsook all and followed him. They turned their back on their sinful lifestyles and accepted God’s forgiveness. What about you my friend? Have you ever received God’s gift of eternal life? The Bible says –

“…behold , now is the accepted time; behold , now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

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