Jesus sat in Simon’s boat and preached to the beach bunch. Then he turned to Simon and said, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch” (Lk 5:4).
On the face of it, there were two things badly off base with this suggestion. One, the timing was wrong: nighttime was the right time to fish; it was now noontime—exactly the wrong time. Two, the location was wrong: Jesus ordered Simon to go where the water was deep—exactly the wrong place.
Jesus was a carpenter. What did he know about fishing compared to Simon Peter, a professional fisherman? It would be like me telling LeBron James how to up his game. After he stopped laughing, he might ask:
“Have you ever played professional basketball?”
Here is a carpenter telling a fisherman how to fish: “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon had a boatload of reasons not to do it: exhaustion said don’t do it; experience said don’t do it; common sense said don’t do it.
If he did it, people were sure to question his judgment: “Is Simon losing it?”
But he’s going to do it anyway: “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. BUT BECAUSE YOU SAY SO, I will let down the nets” (Lk 5:5).
Can’t you hear the howls of his companions? “Aw c’mon. We fished all night and didn’t net a single sardine. We’ve just washed the nets and put them away. You’re telling us to unpack them at the wrong time and sink them in the wrong place. That’s nuts!”
Cramming the shoreline was a multitude of people, shaking their heads and guffawing at simple Simon. “Fool!”
Are you sensitive to what others think of you? Aren’t we all?
The image remains vivid in my mind: Princess Diana visiting a children’s hospital, where she encountered an AIDS-afflicted child. When she made eye contact with him, he said, “Please don’t make fun of me.” “How could I?” she said, pulling the child into a warm embrace.
Dr. Raj Raghunathan, a professor at the University of Texas, teaches a course about happiness. At the beginning of the semester, he asks his students to tell him what they hope to get out of the class. Dr. Raghunathan says one answer—variously worded—consistently tops all others: “I would like to learn how to stop being bothered by what others are thinking of me.”
The desire to be accepted drags thousands of teens into drugs, drink, and sex—even though they know it’s wrong and don’t want to go there. Peer pressure is the primary recruitment tool for gangs.
Nor are adults immune. We crave approval and are pulled to go with the flow to gain favor and avoid censure.
The apostle Paul was going against the grain of our sensitive psyche when he told the Corinthians, “I care very little if I am judged by you” (1 Cor 4:3).
Vox populi vox Dei—the voice of the people is the voice of God—is far from true.
Stand strong! Lord, sometimes I don’t understand, but I’m going to do what you tell me to—just “BECAUSE YOU SAY SO.”