Have you ever gotten involved in something or with someone and found yourself in too deep?
A teenager starts experimenting with alcohol. He begins hanging out with a different crowd, his grades plummet. and before he knows it, he’s driving a car drunk, and causes an accident. He’s gotten in too deep.
A businesswoman makes an investment that isn’t paying off, and to keep things afloat, she keeps shoveling more money into the enterprise. Soon she realizes she’s in too deep – she’s got a mountain of debt to pay.
A married man starts flirting with a co-worker. One thing leads to another and he ends up breaking his marriage vows. He keeps lying to cover it up but it doesn’t work. He’s just in too deep.
We all know like when we’re in too deep. We in over our heads. Our feet can’t touch the bottom of the pool. A problem has gotten too large to solve by ourselves. Our own resources are inadequate to the task at hand. Our emotions can no longer cope. Our faith is stretched beyond its endurance. We want to escape, give up, just don’t see a way out, but we’re in too deep to just walk away.
The deep is one of the first things encountered in the Bible. We find it in story of creation in the opening lines of Genesis. In verse 2 it reads: “darkness covered the face of the deep.” The root of the Hebrew word for deep has a range of meanings: “waste, waste space, futile, meaningless, empty space, nothing, confusion and chaos.”
The deep conjured up the most dangerous, chaotic, dark places in the world. The watery depths destructive and out of control. The place where sea monsters dwell, where perhaps evil can lurk. In the biblical worldview, the deep was cosmic ocean out of which God begins to create. Our scriptures vividly convey this. Genesis describes the flood in this manner: "In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened." Genesis 7:11. The prophet Ezekiel declares concerning the enemy country of Tyre: Thus saith the Lord, “When I shall make thee a desolate city, like the cities that are not inhabited, when I shall bring up the deep upon thee, and many waters shall cover thee (Ezekiel 26:19).” The psalmist describes the providence of God while the people of Israel face the terror of the crossing of the Red Sea: “God rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry, he led them through the deep as through a desert “Psalm 106: 9-10a).
It is intriguing then that Jesus, when he begins to create disciples, out of the multitudes of people, he doesn’t start at a synagogue or a temple, where the religious folk hang out. We already established last week that he didn’t go to his hometown of Nazareth and select from his oldest of friends. Jesus begins the process of creating disciples as he preaches from a boat on the waters of the sea of Galilee, finds some fishermen, and the first thing he tells them is not some bible verse, not some word of piety, but “put out into the deep water.”
Never mind that they had been fishing all night. Never mind that they failed to catch anything. Never mind that fishing during the day, especially out in the deep, meant that the fish would be swimming deeper to avoid the light, and they would be harder to catch. And Simon Peter, despite what he logically knows from all his years as a fisherman, puts that knowledge aside. He accommodates Jesus. He’s polite to the rabbi and obeys his wishes. Perhaps it is because he saw Jesus heal his mother-in-law of a fever. He saw Jesus rebuke the demons that tormented people. Simon is in deep with Jesus already, so he has to humor him.
The nets are cast into the deep, and there are suddenly so many fish, so many that the nets begin to break. They need to call for a another boat to come over to bring in this haul. And Simon, instead of rejoicing in his catch, that he’s made some money for the day, instead of asking Jesus for some other choice spots to cast his net, he falls down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Lord I’ve gotten into bad habits so deep I can’t get out. Lord my sins are too many, I can never get over them. Lord, go away I am not worthy to be in your presence, I have fallen too deep.
It takes Simon going into the deep to see the depth of his sins, too real to hide, and he also see the breadth and width of the majesty, the power the love of God in Jesus. In the deep place, Simon’s feet can’t touch the ground. Simon can no longer hide who he is.
Do not be afraid, Jesus says. From now on you will be catching people. That is how a disciple is made. A disciple fails over and over, and gets in it too deep. Too deep into self-righteousness. Too deep into pride. Too deep into selfishness. Just too deep into sin. But what the scriptures reveal is that nothing is too deep for Jesus. Jesus goes into the deep and brings us to safe shores. And that’s how we become disciples.
"John Newton, the author of the beloved hymn “Amazing Grace, “began his life’s career by searching throughout the African coast for slaves to capture and eventually to sell for profit. On one journey, Newton and his crew encountered a storm that swept some of his men overboard and left others with the likelihood of drowning. With both hands fastened onto the wheel of the boat, Newton cried out to God saying, “Lord, have mercy on us.” After eleven hours of steering, the remainder of the crew found safety with the calming of the storm. From then on, Newton dated March 21 as a day for a time of humiliation, prayer, and praise.
Upon arriving safely home, Newton did not venture out to seek more slaves. God changed him from a man who was an advocate for the slave trade to a man actively working towards abolishing it. In later years, Newton began to lose his memory. Although his thoughts were limited, Newton said he could remember two things, “That I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior.” With this conviction of newly found life that he found only in Christ, Newton passed from his earthly life in 1807, at the age of 82. Newton did live long enough to see the signing of The Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade." Unfortunately, while England no longer engaged in slave trading, its financial institutions continued to invest in slavery in the United States.
Where is life just too deep for us today? Around us we feel division and discord that seem unresolvable. Illness that remains unhealed. A materialistic society drowning in things, while denying the spirit. Today we are reminded just go out to the deep, wherever it is, for Jesus. Let Jesus catch us in his mercy. May we experience the abundance of life Jesus is waiting to open to us as we encounter him in the deep places of life. And don’t be afraid, for that’s just how disciples are caught – and how we learn to be a beacon for others who just are in, too deep.