What does faith look like?

Luke 5:5 - "And Simon answered, 'Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.'"

I've recently been in some discussions where we have considered to topic of faith. What is it? What does it look like? As I've spent time reflecting on the topic, I came across the passage in Luke 5 during a study and loved what it had to say about faith! To fully appreciate Peter's response to Jesus I think it would be helpful if we understood Peter's personal journey of belief up to this point.

  • Peter had formerly been a follower of John the Baptist but began following Jesus after Andrew introduced them (John 1:35-52).
  • Jesus had moved to Capernaum, Peter's hometown and also healed Peter's Mother-in-Law (Luke 4:38-39).
  • Peter had been part of the growing crowds following Jesus around Galilee (Luke 4:37; 4:42-5:1; 5:15-16).

One day as the crowds were pressing close in order to hear Jesus teach, he used Peter's boat to push away from the shore and use the natural amphitheater of the hillside so that more people could hear him. After he concluded his lesson, Jesus told Peter to head into deeper water and do some fishing. And this is the moment, this is the conversation, that tells us so much about Biblical faith!

There were several reasons why Jesus' instruction did not make sense! In Twelve Ordinary Men, John MacArthur shared 3 reasons why the advise appeared foolish:

  1. The timing was wrong! Fish were easier to catch at night when the water was cooler and the fish surfaced to feed.
  2. The location was wrong! Fish normally feed in shallower waters and were easier to catch there.
  3. Peter, the experienced multi-generational fisherman, was exhausted! He had already spent the entire night fishing without any success.

Jesus wasn't upset with Peter expressing his confusion. Because what Peter said next is crucial.

But at your word I will let down the nets.
— Peter to Jesus

Despite how things appeared to him, Peter responding in faith. There are a lot of things that the Bible says about faith, but focusing on this passage, we learn at least these few things.

  1. Faith is a decision. Faith is not blind and does not abandon common sense. It is based on "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Remember, Peter had been following Jesus and had witnessed him do amazing things, and teach remarkably convicting things. He decision in this moment was not made in isolation of what he already knew, but was motivated and based on it.
  2. Faith is a response. The following verse says, "And when they had done this..." It was not enough for Peter to verbally commit, Peter followed through. His action was filled with faith, but they worked together like Biblical faith is meant to (Rom. 1:5, 16:26).
  3. Faith leads us to praise a holy God, and honestly see ourselves in relation to him. When Peter saw what Jesus did, despite the fact that based on his experience it would be a waste of time, he fell down at Jesus knees confessing his sinfulness and calling Jesus, "Lord." When we accept the words of God by faith, we finally see ourselves and God as we should.
  4. Faith is inherently evangelistic. Everyone who saw what had happened when Peter's chose to believe the words of Jesus was amazed, and the text tells us that multiple people left all and followed him, not just Peter. Biblical faith is meant to be shared!
  5. We will all have weak moments when we will need to be reminded of God's pleasure when we choose faith. One of the most powerful things about this moment, is that Jesus repeats it after his resurrection, after Peter's denial, when Peter needed to be reminded that there was a time in his past when he chose faith instead of fear (John 21:1-8). Each of us will fail during the course of our discipleship, and each of us needs to be reminded of moments in our past when God did amazing things when we faithfully followed him.

How is God calling you to following him right now? What are the words of Jesus convicting, challenging and leading you to do in your life? Do those words fail to make sense to you right now? That's okay. Express that to God like Peter did. But also like Peter, after respectfully expressing your concern, fear or frustration, remember WHO is talking, and choose to move forward and respond in faith.

Your friend,

Jeremy Dehut