Friday, April 13, 2012

Power and Authority

One of the Colonel's favorite Biblical accounts of the life of Jesus is found in Luke's letter to his presumed patron and recent convert to Christianity, Theophilus, wherein the unlimited power and authority of the God-Man Jesus is demonstrated.

In the fourth chapter of his Gospel, Luke describes the miraculous nature of Jesus' ministry in Galilee -- healing, restoring sight, exorcising demons -- and, more importantly, reveals the truth of God's anointment of Jesus with His authority, and power to exercise that authority.   Luke presents a representative account of each of the aspects of God's power and authority:

Jesus displays power over evil by driving out a demon possessing a man in the synagogue of Capernaum (Luke 4:35).
Jesus displays power over illnesses with the healing of Simon's mother-in-law (Luke 4:39).

But, the example of Jesus' power and authority that most gets the Colonel's rapt attention is found in the fifth chapter of Luke's Gospel.

Luke tells us that the two examples of Jesus' power and authority were not isolated events.  Jesus was healing and exorcising so many, that people came to Him from throughout the region, crowding Him so that the only way he could have enough space to teach was to commandeer one of Simon's boats from which to talk to those gathered on shore.

After Jesus completed his sermon, He turned to Simon and told him to "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch" (Luke 5:4).

Now, Simon was a fisherman.  A commercial fisherman.

Simon, the character and personality of whom we become more familiar with after Jesus nicknames him "Peter," was a supremely self-confident man's man. 

An outdoorsman.

A man of action. 

A man who was certain that he knew more about the natural world in general, and fishing in particular, than anybody else on the planet -- well, in the region of Galilee, at least.

Simon would have made a good Marine.

Luke tells us that the supremely self-confident Simon gave Jesus a quick lesson in fishing.  The Colonel begs your indulgence as he embellishes Simon's words in a vernacular with which he is more comfortable:

"Boss, we've been bustin' our backs all night long and ain't got the first fish to show for it.  We just finished cleanin' the nets and all we are gonna accomplish here in the bright daylight is gettin' em dirty all over again.  But, if you wanna go fishin', we'll go."

The Colonel has heard and read a lot of folks who put the emphasis on Simon's obedience to Jesus' command in this instance. 

The Colonel rather wants to believe that, although Simon had witnessed many of the miracles performed by Jesus, he hadn't really been "touched where he lived."

Simon was just humoring his rabbi.

Simon had seen Jesus drive out demons and heal folks, but that was on land.  On the water was Simon's domain, the place that he knew better than anyone -- even better, in his estimation, than Jesus.

Luke tells us in verses 6 and 7 of Chapter 5, that when they let down their nets, fish filled them in such great numbers that the nets began to tear apart.

Remember, Simon and his partners were not sport fishermen.  Their very livelihood depended on their nets holding the greatest number of fish they could possibly imagine catching. 

Their nets were not designed to give the fish a sporting chance.

It is crystal clear to the Colonel, even given his severely restricted mental faculties and lack of a quality education (he didn't go to college -- Ole Miss is something else entirely), that Jesus exercised his power and authority over nature itself. 

Simon's nets just didn't happen to encompass a large school of fish.

Jesus exercised his power and authority over His creation.  Jesus directed every fish within fast-finning distance into Simon's nets.

This was, the Colonel believes, intended to get Simon's undivided attention.

This touched Simon at the very soul of who Simon was. 

Fishing, in today's business vernacular, was Simon's core competency; his market niche.

Nobody out-fished Simon...,

Except, Jesus.

Simon's reaction, as his partners' boats (plural!) filled to the gunnells with fish, is telling:

"Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" (Luke 5:8)

The question comes to the Colonel whenever he thinks of this story,

"What do you think you do better than Jesus?"

When Simon realized that he had harbored the belief that he knew more than God about what was his core competency, that was the point at which, the Colonel believes, Simon realized the full extent of Jesus' power and authority over every aspect of his life -- and the full extent of his sinfullness.

What do you think you do better than Jesus?
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