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Jesus not only preached in Galilee, but also in the towns of Judea. Luke 4:42-44 says,
42 And when day came, He departed and went to a lonely place; and the multitudes were searching for Him, and came to Him, and tried to keep Him from going away from them. 43 But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” 44 And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.
After preaching in the synagogue in Capernaum (presumably on a Sabbath), where Jesus also healed a demoniac, He went to Peter’s home and healed his mother-in-law. In other words, Peter was married and lived in Capernaum. The next day, Jesus “departed and went to a lonely place.”
But His miracles had raised some excitement in Capernaum, and obviously, the people wanted Jesus to stay with them. Yet Jesus withdrew Himself, probably to pray to know the will of the Father. When people found Him (or perhaps when He returned to town), He told them that He had to move on as an itinerant preacher to teach the kingdom of God in Judea also.
Luke says that the synagogues in Judea allowed Him to teach for a time, although as time passed, many became more hostile toward Him. John 7:1 says,
1 And after these things Jesus was walking in Galilee; for He was unwilling to walk in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill Him.
Earlier, in John 6:66, we read,
66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore.
They left Jesus on account of His teaching in the last half of John 6, where He explained to them the meaning of the miracle of feeding the 5,000. You see, miracles have meaning and are therefore signs (semeion). Most people today are unaware of this, seeing miracles primarily as just supernatural events. But those miraculous events are prophetic and carry spiritual meanings to give us understanding of the nature of God and His divine plan. Unless we understand this, we will miss the underlying lessons in each miracle.
The people were glad to be fed miraculously, but many rejected the meaning of that miraculous sign. It meant that Jesus was the true bread from heaven (John 6:50) and that men were to eat His flesh and drink His blood (John 6:53-57). Because they thought carnally, they were unable to see that He was the Passover Lamb, and that the divine command in Exodus 12:8-11 was to eat the lamb and leave nothing left over in the morning. In the end, He was crucified as their Passover Lamb, but most of them did not accept Him as such and therefore could not “eat” His flesh.
Their refusal or inability to receive His teaching, then, was in itself a portent of things to come, for it made them stumble (John 6:61). Paul says that they stumbled over the idea that the Messiah would be crucified (1 Cor. 1:23). The result was, as Jesus said in John 6:66, many stopped following Jesus.
Yet in the early days, Jesus felt constrained to preach the kingdom in Judea.
Luke 5:1-11 then gives us another miracle-sign (semeion) proving that Jesus was supposed to preach the gospel in other towns.
1 Now it came about that while the multitude were pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret.
This story took place in or near Capernaum before Jesus had even gone to Judea. The lake of Gennesaret is the Sea of Galilee, on whose shores lay the town of Capernaum. Gennesaret means “harps,” because it was shaped like a harp. Gennesaret was the Greek spelling of the Hebrew name Chinnereth or Chinneroth (Deuteronomy 3:17).
Luke 5:2, 3 continues,
2 and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. 3 And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the multitudes from the boat.
No doubt Jesus felt confident about using Simon Peter’s boat, since He had just healed his mother-in-law the previous evening. You might say that Simon was indebted to Him. In order to keep the boat steady in one spot while the wind blew, Simon’s skills with the oars were needed. The job also ensured that he would hear what Jesus had to say.
4 And when He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but at Your bidding I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish; and their nets began to break.
It appears that Simon was one of those who wanted Jesus to remain in Capernaum, for he was interested in His message but was bound to support his family by fishing at the lake. This great catch of fish no doubt provided sufficient money to leave his trade and follow Jesus to Judea. It was a sign to Peter that God provides the means to do whatever a man is called to do.
Yet the miracle meant more than this. When Jesus told them to “put out into the deep water,” He was really showing them that it was time to launch out into a greater ministry and to start preaching the gospel of the Kingdom in the “deep water” of Judea.
Luke 5:7 continues,
7 and they signaled to their partners in the other boat, for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.
Not only were the nets torn, but the boats began to sink on account of the weight of the fish. These experienced fishermen were unprepared for the large catch of fish. So also were they unprepared for the work of ministry that lay ahead. They were unaware that they were about to be trained as fishers of men for a great life-changing work that lay ahead. Their lives were about to change dramatically.
Luke 5:8-11 continues,
8 But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” 9 For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.
This was how Simon Peter and his partners in the fishing company left their business and began to travel with Jesus to learn the art of catching men with Kingdom “nets.” This miracle had meaning to them, for it provided confirmation of their new mission. They also knew that funding would not be a problem.
This sign and revelation has greater significance when we apply it to the second work of Christ in our own time. Many years ago, God called a group of intercessors into action and said to name it “The Net of Prayer,” on account of this passage in Luke 5. I joined this group on January 17, 1983, and it changed my life. It was my own learning experience, where I began to be trained in the art of intercession and spiritual warfare.
But a few years later on July 16, 1986 the word of the Lord came to me that I was to separate myself and to “call the New Net of Prayer to prayer.” I did not understand the word, nor did I even agree with it, so I remained in the Net of Prayer until October of 1989. My disobedience caused problems, but God finally had mercy on me after a month of prayer and fasting to know the root of the problem.
A year later God caused me to lose my job in September of 1990 and then called me back into ministry work in 1991. On the morning of May 28, 1991 I awoke with the word of the Lord saying, “Study the laws of devotion.” I discovered that to “devote” something to God had much greater meaning than I had realized. The Hebrew word is haram, which had a double meaning. It means “to set aside or devote something,” but it also means “a net” and is so translated in Micah 7:2.
I still did not understand what God was trying to say until later, as I was having lunch. God then said,
“I am calling you to establish the new Net of Prayer. This is My called-out ones, My devoted ones who shall drag My net of devotion and gather up My people into one body, My Kingdom…. United, they shall exercise the power of My authority more than any have done since the beginning…”
I suddenly knew that I was being called again, as in 1986, to “call the New Net of Prayer to prayer.” Like Jonah, Jonas, or “Jones,” I had run from my calling, but God had brought me back to the place where I was now ready to hear the word. I could leave my nets, launching out into the deep to catch fish in Nineveh, “City of Fish.”
In Luke 5 the nets broke, because they were not yet ready or prepared for the work that lay ahead. However, after their training was complete, Jesus was raised from the dead and again told them to cast their nets into the water for a catch. Then they caught 153 large fish, and the nets were not broken (John 21:11). They were finally ready.
So I finally came to understand the meaning of that word, and it has been the basis of this work of ministry since that time. In 1991 I was finally ready to fulfill the second “fishing” work, where the nets will not break. The first order of business was to begin writing books for teaching the gospel of the Kingdom. It began with the publication of Creation’s Jubilee and is now coming to a climax.
In 1993 we launched the Jubilee Prayer Campaign, which lasted until October of 2006. Then the revelation came about the Elisha ministry, which began in 2009 and has continued to this day. I have written of these things for many years.