Multiplication Principle


Peter had every right to be cynical that morning.  He had labored the whole night and caught no fish.  He was irritated and tired.  He wanted to go home and sleep, if possible without facing the disappointed looks of his family.

As Peter stood on the shore washing his nets, he looked up and noticed Jesus a short distance away.  Jesus was preaching again, and a whole crowd of people had followed him from town to listen.  They crowded around him eager to hear every word.  Jesus saw Peter and approached him and asked to use the boat.  Relieved for an excuse not to go home yet, Peter agreed.  Jesus sat down in the boat and asked Peter to put out a little from shore.

As Jesus taught the people from the boat, Peter was distracted thinking of what he would say to his family when he got home.  How would he explain that he hadn’t caught a single fish?  Exhaustion seemed to engulf Peter.

Just then Jesus turned to Peter.  In his eyes was a look of deep compassion that Peter had never seen in anyone before.  “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch,” said Jesus.

“What?” thought Peter.  “What is Jesus thinking?  He’s a carpenter – what could he possibly know about fishing?”  Peter had been fishing with his father since he was a little boy.  He knew that the fish in the lake only came to the surface at night.  There was no point in trying to catch them in the middle of the day!

Peter was about to explain the situation to Jesus when a little voice inside seemed to whisper “Obey”.   He didn’t know how throwing the net one more time would result in anything, but he decided in that moment that he would obey Jesus without question.{1}

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The crowd had been with Jesus for three days.  Their food was gone, and they were hungry.  It was mid-day when the disciples finally turned to Jesus and told him “You have to send these people home.  There’s no food here for them.”  But Jesus’ response was not what they ever would have expected.  “You feed them.”

How in the world were they to feed five thousand men, plus women and children?  But Jesus just told them to look at what they had.  In that moment a little boy, came forward and whispered to Andrew.  “Here are five loaves and two fish.  The Teacher can have them.”

Andrew didn’t know how five loaves and two fish would matter.  This was a crowd of more than 5,000 people!  But Jesus had asked them to bring what they had and so Andrew dutifully brought the five loaves and two fish before Jesus and laid them at his feet.

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The servants were whispering frantically with one another.  It was the third day of the wedding banquet and the wine was gone.  Not a drop remained.  How could this have happened?  The servants were terrified to tell the master of the wedding banquet.  He would be furious.  The guests would have to be sent away unsatisfied and the whole family would be disgraced.

As the servants argued over who would go and tell the master of the banquet, one of the guests overheard.  It was Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Mary knew exactly what to do.  She hurried to her son, Jesus, and pleaded with him to intervene.  She told the servants “Do whatever he tells you.”

The servants were confused.  What could this carpenter do to help?  Surely he was too poor to buy enough wine for the rest of the banquet.  When Jesus gave his instructions, the servants became even more confused.  Jesus said “Fill the 6 jars with water.”  What good would that do?  They needed wine not water.  But the servants obeyed and did as Jesus instructed.

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What was the result in each of the stories?  After catching nothing all night, Peter casts his net one more time and pulls in the biggest catch of his life.  The disciples watch 5 loaves and 2 fish multiply to feed a crowd of 5000.  And the servants at the wedding banquet saw 6 massive jars of water turned into the best wine ever tasted.

None of them expected such miracles when they followed Jesus’ instructions.  Yet they chose to obey Jesus.  His instructions didn’t seem to make sense at all, but each one chose to obey.

Sometimes in life, Jesus’ instructions don’t make sense.  Jesus says “Feed the hungry” and “Give shelter to the wanderer”.  He says “Care for the sick” and “Visit those in prison”.  So often we can feel that His commands are just too hard.  How can we feed the hungry when we ourselves are poor?  How can we care for the sick when we’re too busy working every day to survive?

Jesus expects us to start with what we have and trust Him.  He expects us to obey even when we don’t understand what could result from the little we have to offer.  Jesus could have just miraculously made the fish appear in the boat.  He could have clapped his hands and made a feast appear in front of the 5,000.  And he could have said a word and wine would have started flowing from everyone’s cups at the wedding.

Jesus chose not to work his miracles in this way.  He didn’t just want the people to be awed by miracles.  What he really wanted was for them to learn to trust and obey Him.  He wanted them to be willing to give what they had and do what they could for Him.  That’s why he asked Peter to toss the net one more time.  He asked the disciples to find out what food they had.  And he asked the servants to tirelessly carry water until 6 massive jars were filled to the brim.  None of them knew what would happen, but they trusted Jesus and did what he asked of them.

No gift or act of service is too small for Jesus.  When we obediently offer what we can to Him, Jesus responds.  It doesn’t matter who you are.  Jesus worked through a fisherman (Peter), a little boy, and some household servants.  The only thing that distinguished them was their willingness to obey Jesus.  Are you willing to obey Jesus like they did?  Are you willing to offer what you have like they did?

{1} The story of Peter’s Catch of Fish was inspired by a similarly written story in Truth and Transformation by Vishal Mangalwadi.

chelseaGuest blogger Chelsea serves as Reconciled World’s TCT Myanmar Program Director.  You can read more about her journey here.

By | 2014-12-08T05:30:20+00:00 December 8th, 2014|Categories: Learn and Apply|Tags: , |

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One Comment

  1. Trisha March 25, 2015 at 6:31 am - Reply

    What a great recsruoe this text is.

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