For the Sake of the Little Ships
Micheal A. Mitchell
Luke 5:1-7 (KJV) 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, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 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. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 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. And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 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.
Notice that Jesus went into Simon’s ship and Simon’s ship only. The same story is in John chapter 21; if you read it carefully, you will realize it is the same story. It’s just another way of telling it. I am going to show you the similarities and the differences that are there.
John 21:1-8 (KJV)
After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise showed he himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disci ples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.
This story is very detailed. I chose this passage of Scripture because I want to tie it in with the title of my message. I want to specifically look at verse 8: “And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes” (John 21). Notice, the other disciples came in a little ship; thus the title of this message is, For the Sake of the Little Ship.
No individual is an island. You do not live by yourself. Every decision you and I make and every action we take has an impact and influences others who are around us. Everything you do affects somebody—people you know and people you don’t know. I must prove to you from Scripture that everything Simon Peter did, in regards to this text, affected those who were around him. Note in John 21:1-2 that the Scripture first tells us, “After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise showed he himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.” All of these disciples were together, and the Bible tells us that they were known as fishermen. Throughout the course of this chapter, I will prove to you that Simon Peter had a boat unto himself; and Thomas, Nathanael, and the sons of Zebedee shared a boat. The Scripture goes on to tell us that Simon Peter said to them I go fishing; and they replied we also go with thee. In other words, everything Simon said he was going to do the others said that they were going with him. Basically, Simon was the leader and they were the followers. If he said fishing is what they were going to do, then fishing is what they did. If Simon said I’m going this far, then they went just as far. Simon understood that every decision he made affected their lives.
In Luke chapter 5, Luke does not elude to the fact that there were some decisions made as to Peter deciding to go fishing. Dr. Luke chose, however, to describe it this way. Jesus came on the scene and was teaching by the lake of Gennesaret, and He wanted to borrow a ship while the fishermen were there washing their nets. Jesus said unto Simon, “I want to borrow your ship. I pray you thrust out a little from the land.” Subsequently, Jesus sat down and taught the people out of Simon’s ship.
It was important to Jesus Christ whose ship He chose to enter. It was not by chance. It was not by accident. It was by divine purpose why Simon’s ship was the one that was chosen. He was the one who ultimately made the decisions for the group. Thus, Jesus chose to use the one who had the most influence. When God is getting ready to do something, He is going to use the one who has the most influence because He knows if the one can follow Him then the ones in the little ships will follow the one who has exercised good leadership.
The LORD chose to go into Simon’s ship, and He said unto Simon, “Thrust out just a little from the land.” The Scripture says Simon obeyed Him, but it was not only Simon who thrust out a little from the land. As I was reading John 21:8, I found out that the Scripture also said, “And the other disciples came in a little ship ( for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits).” It seems as if when Jesus came into Simon’s boat and instructed him to thrust out a little from the land the other disciples followed ail and thrust out a little from the land as well.
People can follow you in the remedial instructions. When it you are a leader and you decide to lead by example, people can follow low you–when the challenges that are going forward are not a cult, when it is not that strenuous on their vessel, and when the size of their vessel is not in question. What does it have to do with sin, The only reason why I bring up..size is because the Scripture never said that Simon had a little ship. The Bible tells us that the other disciples came in a little ship. Therefore, to thrust out a little little from the land was not a challenging situation.
You need to understand that I am going to go from John to Luke, and I am mixing both stories. John says Jesus sent the disci pies out to fish, started a fire, and then asked them did they have any meat. Then Simon said, “. . . Master, we have toiled all night and have taken nothing: . . .” (Luke 5:5). In other words, it wasn’t just Simon, but it was the other disciples as well. They all attempted to fish by night. Do you understand that most fishermen fish at night? I’m not sure if it is because the waters are calmer, or if it is because the fish are more subdued, or if it is because the nets are undetectable. But for whatever reason, John tells us in verse 3 that they went fishing by night. The Scripture highlights that they caught nothing. Then John brings it to us this way: “…When the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore; but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus” (John 21:4). If Jesus sent you fishing and you came back to where He sent you from, then why could you not recognize Him? Jesus was standing by the shore when they showed up empty handed, and they couldn’t recognize Him. Could we work so long in the night that we can’t see in the day? Is it possible that so many of us are attempting to accomplish things in the night that we can’t recognize the God of the day?
So Jesus asked did they have any meat and they replied, “No.” “. . . He said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your net for a draught” (Luke 5:4). I can just imagine Simon looking at Jesus with the rest of the disciples and saying, “Lord, we have been there and done that. You are telling us to go back where have just fished all night, and You are telling me I am going to plan an abundance of fish.” In John 21:6, the Scripture narrates, “… .cast the net on the right side of the ship . . .”. Is it possible we could be fishing on the wrong side? Is it possible you have the right job but the wrong position? Is it possible you are in the right place but the wrong location? Think about it: right profession but wrong employer. What difference does it make what side you cast the net on? Fish are fish. They aren’t particular about left hand or right hand. All they are concerned with is the bait. Sometimes, it’s not about the fish. Sometimes it is about the fishermen. You could be in the right position but in the wrong place.
Jesus told Simon, “. . . Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have haled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net” (Luke 5:4-5). I think, maybe, Simon was trying to say that the other fishermen went with him out, on the left side, and they always did what he did; but now that he was before Jesus, how could he not do what Jesus told him to do? Even if he was frustrated because he had been there before, for the sake of the other fishermen and for the sake of those in the little ship, he obeyed the voice of the Master.
Sometimes when we are the leaders, when we have the bigger vessel, when we have been married long enough, and when we have endured some stuff–there are some little ships coming behind us, coming up in the church and in the ministry, and what we do is going to make an impact on those who have the little ships. God wants to know why those who have the cruise liners and the luxury liners are acting like paddle boats. The little ship could not obey the big command. What is the big command? Launch out into the deep. In other words, go where the little ship can’t go, but get what the little ship people need; and when you get it, don’t tell them what you had to go through to get it. Just go get what they need, what they can’t get for themselves. For the sake of the little ships, endure it the turbulent waters.
Jesus commanded Simon to “launch out into the deep Simon knew Jesus wanted him to obey the impossible command. Obey and do what others could not do. He had to attempt to di it because he had the right vessel.
God has given you the kind of ship to go get what everybody else needs. What He wants to know is will you obey the command? You better obey for the sake of the little ship because they can’t go where God asks you to go. There are other things the whole church can accomplish, but it’s going to take someone who has been there before. What Jesus was saying is, “Simon, I need you to launch out; because if you don’t go, then the little ships are going to feel like more of a failure than you are going to feel. You have been there e before; you know what it is like to come up empty. They’re new at this profession.” The little ships haven’t traveled this road before. They expect God to answer every prayer, but you have been there. You understand that not every prayer you pray God is going to answer; and not every time you are sick God is going to heal your body. But, for the sake of the little ships, keep going to prayer meetings, keep letting people lay hands on you, and keep making your requests known. If you ever give up, when you have the right vessel to endure hardness and you fail to do the right thing, how can the people in the little ships survive?
Jesus told Simon to take the same net that was a disappointment to him and cast it out on the other side. I don’t think there was any difference between the left side and the right side. I think God was stretching Simon in the area of obedience. I believe the fish were always there waiting for God’s instruction. But God just wanted to know if there was a Simon who could obey Him when others had already given up. For the sake of the little ships, for the sake of the new converts, for the sake of potential leaders, for the sake of new marriages, for the sake of those who are courting, for the sake of those who have just had children and are just starting families, for the sake of those entities–those of us whom God has even vessels that have been tried and proven need to obey. God doesn’t get into every vessel. He is looking for an example. Ile is very particular about whose ship He enters. There were two ships hesere, but He specifically said, “Simon, I’m coming into your ship; and I am going to bless your life and ministry, and I am going to enlarge your territory. You are going to be in my world more than anybody else. You are going to rub shoulders with me because if you can rub shoulders with me and then obey, then there is hope for the little ships.”
How can God give so much to people He has faith in and then disregard the little ships? This is why people who have been in church for a long time, even if they question the matter of holiness, have to dress right. What if you have been saved 100 years, and you happen to work with a new convert, live in the same community with them, and ride the same bus as them, and you don’t conduct yourself according to the doctrine of holiness; then how is he new convert or the struggling Christian supposed to get it right? I f the seasoned Christians can’t adapt to the Word, what is going to become of the little ships? What hope is there for the little ship? The way you lead is the way others will follow.
Marriage is so hard today. It is so difficult for newlyweds to stay together. How can the newlyweds survive, when people who have been married 10, 20, and 30 years are struggling with remedial stuff? Couples who have been married for decades need to remember the little ships. How are newlyweds going to survive when the older couples can’t even talk to one another? For the sake of the little ships, sometimes, people who are struggling have to stay together. I remember in the “olden days” when people stayed together for the sake of the children. Not everything was peachy; but for the sake of the children growing up in the right environment and understanding what marriage is supposed to be like, parents had to keep it together. Children have to see stability. The little ships can’t see fighting 24/7. They can’t see husbands being unkind to their wives. If senior people who have some bruises can’t stabilize, endure the murky waters, launch out into the deep, and survive I It you It is your ship that HE dared to step into although you and friends’ ships might be docked at the same place. You and your greatest of storms, how can the little ships survive?
Leaders and potential leaders should not live in such it that gives no regards to the little ships, and they should not h of that their actions will affect the next generation. If leaders live recklessly, then who is going to come up behind them and take place? Every one of us has a replacement. What leaders of today do determines the destiny of the little ships. We have to be careful how we carry ourselves. We cannot continue to live as if we do hi not influence anybody else. We have to learn to live righteous and holy and to obey the voice of the Lord. If the bigger vessels only stay a little off shore and don’t learn to be obedient, then how we the little ships ever going to get fed? How are the little ships CVO going to learn how to navigate out into the deep if the bigger vessels are not better examples? The little ships have to be able to see the bigger vessels launch out into the deep. They have to be able to see bigger vessels go where they do not want to go. They have to see the bigger vessels’ depth because, in time, they are going to have to go there, too. And they cannot attempt to go there if they have not seen the bigger vessels go there and return. The key is not just going there, but the key is coming back and coming back with fish.
Peter went where the little vessels could not go. The journey to where the miracle was at was very challenging. We don’t know how choppy the waters were, how terrible the winds were, and how lonely the voyage was because Peter went by himself. There are some places where you have to leave other people and go by yourself. Everybody is not privileged to get the same kind of vessel. The Scripture lets us know that there are vessels of honor and of dishonor, but if a man will purge himself–take on the challenges, separate himself from everybody else, pay the price, obey the command, go where nobody else wants to go, and go get what everybody needs–he will be honored. Although everybody needs fish, not everyone can go get them. Everybody heard the command, but the command was given to one. Some can only go but so far with you. It is your ship that HE dared to step into although you and your friend’s ship might be docked at the same place. You and your neighbor might go to the same church, but you are not the same vessel. You don’t have the same calling or the same destiny, and you have to know what your destiny and your calling is. You have to know when to walk away from the other little ships. You have to go where their vessel was not made to go. You have to go get what they need to survive, and you are going to have to go by yourself. Everybody wants fish, but only one can go get it. We must stay stable. Our prayer lives must be anchored. Even when you think they aren’t watching, they are. They are waiting to see if you return and if you return with fish. So for the sake of the little ships, launch out into the deep.
The above article, “For the Sake of the Little Ships” is written by Micheal A. Mitchell. The article was excerpted from pages 105-113 of Mitchell’s book Bread Crumbs: Volume 2.
The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.