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God, the Great Giver

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” Did you read that with the melody in mind as I do when I write it? These words were originally the last stanza of three morning hymns authored by Bishop Thomas Ken in 1684. In 1709, he made some final edits to the stanza and put it to music.1 The Doxology, is arguably one of the most known hymns in the world. The point of the hymn is that God is the Great Giver.

When Jesus called Simon, Andrew, John, and James to be His disciples, it is possible that the first lesson Jesus wanted them to understand was that God is the Great Giver. They needed to know and rely upon God, the Father, as He did. Jesus simply received what His Father gave to Him each day. On this particular day, He was speaking to a crowd by the lake of Gennesaret, more commonly known as the Sea of Galilee. He needed some natural sound amplification, and Jesus apparently knew that water at certain temperatures causes refraction, a phenomenon that amplifies sound on the surface of the water. His Father gave Him a boat from which to speak. It was one of two boats belonging to some fishermen who were cleaning their nets after a frustrating night at work. As we walk through Luke 5:1-10, let’s notice how Jesus believed that His Father was the Great Giver of all things and that His attitude was one of being a Great Receiver. Then we will look at how each point may be applied to us as we live to love with Jesus.

IT WAS GOD WHO GAVE JESUS THE CROWD.

Luke 5:1 Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret;

On this particular day, apparently Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee and a crowd began following Him as He taught the word of God. Where did this crowd come from? The answer isn’t in this passage, but we do have an answer given to us through John, the Baptist, when his disciples observed that the crowds were following after Jesus more than John.

John 3:26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him.”

John 3:27 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.”

God puts people in our paths just as He did with His Son. It was He who gave Jesus the crowd that day at the lake. God, the Great Giver, and Jesus, His Son, the humble receiver, were at work together. Jesus lived to love with His Father. It was His daily bread. It is the same with all of us who live to love with Jesus. The Father gives people to His Son in us. Most of the time, He only gives us one person at a time. Very few of us are given a crowd to love all at once. The point I’m making is that it was God who gave the crowd to Jesus. The application of this point is that every person who crosses our paths is given to us by God, the Father, because He is the Great Giver. I hope that’s how you’ll look at everyone God gives to you each day—gifts from the Great Giver of life.

IT WAS GOD WHO GAVE JESUS HIS WORDS.

Luke 5:1 Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret;

Not only did His Father draw the crowd, but He also gave Jesus His words to speak. It says they were listening to the word of God. The reason we listen so intently to Jesus’ words is that we have confidence that He is God and always speaks what the Father says. Jesus said, “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak” (John 12:49). The second point I’m making is that Jesus received what to say from His Father, the Great Giver. The application of this point is that we who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, can experience the same thing. For Jesus said in John 16:13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” God, the Great Giver, will also give us what to speak to the people He puts in our paths if we abide in the Spirit of Life in Christ whom He has given to us. May the words of God, words of love, encouragement, hope, and truth come out of our mouths to everyone God puts in our lives.

IT WAS GOD WHO GAVE JESUS THE BOATS.

Luke 5:2 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.

It is insightful to remember that Jesus also never acted on His own initiative. He always did what He saw His Father doing.

John 5:19 Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. 

John 5:20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel.”

When Jesus saw the boats and realized they were His Father’s provision for communicating more effectively to the crowd, “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 people from the boat.” The point I’m making is that God, the Great Giver, provided exactly what Jesus needed to minister most effectively. The application to our lives is that we can trust our Father in heaven, to give us exactly what we need to love those He puts in our paths, for His glory. He will give what we need to Jesus, who will give it to us. As we receive His help, in the same way Jesus received His Father’s help, we glorify the Father through Jesus Christ. We are living to love with Jesus.

IT WAS GOD WHO GAVE THE FISH.

Luke 5:4 When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”

Luke 5:5 Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.”

Luke 5:6 When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break;

Luke 5:7 so 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 did Jesus use the boats for the glory of God, but He also used the fishermen and their nets for the glory of God. Because Jesus understood that the way to abide in His Father’s love was to receive whatever His Father gave Him, He looked at what was before Him—fishermen with their nets. He told Peter and the rest of his crew to launch out into the deeper water and let down their nets. Where did that idea come from? His Father, of course. Jesus explained all of His words and actions in John 14:10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” Don’t miss what you just heard. When Jesus spoke, the Father worked. This was true in this case as well.

When Peter said that they had worked all night but caught nothing, Jesus understood that His Father had set the stage for one of the most important lessons in life, especially for future disciples: They must cast the nets believing it is God who fills them. How better to learn this lesson than in the context of life and at the beginning of their discipleship journey? They didn’t catch anything all night long so that they could learn this foundational lesson: God is the Great Giver, and we human beings are the humble receivers.

Peter followed Jesus’ instructions perhaps with little faith, but they experienced the extravagant generosity of the Father in catching so many fish that both boats began to sink! The point God made to the future disciples was that it is He, the Great Giver, that puts the fish in the nets when they cast at His command. It was no mere coincidence that this event took place at the same time that Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow Him and become fishers of men. The application of this lesson was to be lifelong for them and for us. At the Lord’s command, we cast our nets (ie, the word of God, some biblical truth as I’m doing now) toward those God puts in our paths. We expect that there will be times when we will draw in an empty net. However, we also expect there will be times when God, the Great Giver, fills the net, so that the glory goes to Him alone.

IT WAS GOD WHO GAVE REVELATION THAT MAKES ONE ABLE TO BECOME A RECEIVER.

Luke 5:8 But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!”

Luke 5:9 For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken;

Another important lesson to learn in the beginning of our journey with Jesus is that God, the Great Giver, doesn’t give blessings because we deserve them, but entirely because He is a gracious and merciful Giver of all things. As a result of the entire fishing trip, from the first drop of the nets until they drew them in teaming with fish, Simon saw that He was a sinful man who didn’t deserve what he received, nor was he worthy to be in Jesus’ presence. When these two realities are understood by someone, they are in a position to be called into kingdom service and used for the glory of God. They know all they have is from God, the Great Giver, who is full of grace and mercy. They also know they are accepted, not by anything in them, but solely because of the love of God. They are amazed at God’s love and generosity. On top of that, they know their success isn’t because they are impressive, great, or intelligent. Knowing God is the Great Giver, and that they are great sinners, frees them to be Great Receivers. When God, the Great Giver, gives the Spirit of Life in Christ to someone who knows he or she is a great sinner, they become vessels who are able to receive from the Father and give to others what they receive. The result is this: God is glorified when God, the Great Giver lives in His children, who are Great Receivers.

God called Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow Jesus and become fishers of men with Him. Jesus cast His net toward them, and the Father swept them into His net. It occurred because Jesus knew His Father was the Great Giver of life and that He simply was to be a Great Receiver. Today, He’s doing it again. The net has been cast through this article, and I trust in God, the Great Giver to fill the net with more who will live to love with Jesus, for His glory. I invite you to take a moment to worship God by singing The Doxology to Him. I pray you’ll walk through this day and everyday trusting the Great Giver for everything in your life. May you become a great receiver for the glory of God.

 

1. Dr. James D. Smith III. https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-31/where-did-we-get-doxology.html

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