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by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And He entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And He sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when He had left speaking, He said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto Him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless, at Thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which_they had taken: and so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed Him.
Some months before, on the banks of the Jordan, St. Andrew and St. Peter, and as it seems St. John also, had heard of Jesus Christ, and had followed Him and become His disciples, but without leaving their homes and their former way of life. Now He willed them to give up everything, and be with Him altogether. So
He called them afresh. First He took Simon Peter's boat for His pulpit, and sitting down in it, taught the people on the shore.
Then by His Almighty power He filled with fishes the nets of the fishermen, who had toiled all night in vain. Thus He shewed Himself to be the second. Adam, to Whom dominion was given over all things here below-over the fishes of the sea, and whatsoever walketh through the paths of the
Simon Peter, overcome with awe at this token of God's Presence, fell down at Jesus' knees, and prayed Him to depart. But the Saviour was too merciful to take him at his word. He did not depart, and leave Peter in the sins which weighed upon him. He comforted him, saying, 'Fear not; and He told him of the great work there was for him to do. Peter was to be a fisherman still, but henceforth he was to catch men. He was to leave the Sea of Galilee for a wider deeper ocean. He was to cast the Gospel net into the waves of this troublesome world, and draw perishing souls out of its dark gloomy waters into the bright light of day, to be gathered into vessels for eternal life.
The four disciples understood now what they were to do. They drew their ships to land, and left them there. They forsook all, and followed Jesus of Nazareth. Thus many holy men in every age have heard their Master's voice and obeyed it. They have forsaken everything to become His fishermen-His missionaries in dark places at home or in foreign countries. They have toiled on, casting their net in many waters, and caring for nothing if only they might win souls for Him.
IV.-THE STILLING OF THE TEMPEST
ON THE LAKE.
Our Lord Jesus had spent the day in teachingpartly on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, partly from a boat on its waters. What took place in the evening is told us in St. Mark, iv. 35–41; and also in St. Matt. viii. 23-27; and St. Luke, viii. 22-25. St. Matthew's account is read as the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany.
And the same day, when the even was come, He saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took Him even as He was in the ship. And there were also with Him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake Him, and say unto Him, Master, carest Thou not that we perish ? And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And He said unto them, Why are ye so fearful ? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him? ·
Our Lord was worn out by a long day's work among crowds of people on the western shore of the lake, when He desired to go for a little quiet and rest to the more retired region of Perea. His disciples took Him in their boat even as He was—that is, worn and weary.
STILLING OF THE TEMPEST ON THE LAKE. 15
sudden and violent storm came on.
Such storins are common in that lake, for it lies low among mountains; and when the wind rises, it rushes fiercely through the gorges of those mountains, and stirs up the waters at their feet. This storm must have been a terrible
for the disciples, who knew the lake well, and must have faced many fierce tempests in their fishingboats, were yet frightened ‘now. And all the while our Lord Jesus lay sleeping. He was perfect Man as well as perfect God, and a day of toil wearied Him as it would have wearied one of us. He was asleep on a pillow. Thus of old the prophet Jonah slept through an awful tempest; but Jonah made the danger by his presence, whereas the Presence of Jesus Christ was a pledge and warrant of safety.
The disciples, however, did not know this fully. They were without the sure trust and confidence which the Presence of Christ should have given them. In an agony of fear they awoke their Lord, saying, “Master, carest Thou not that we perish ? He arose—and as of old God rebuked the Red Sea and it was dried up, so now He rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. Well might the disciples
What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him? The Psalmist had cried out long before, ‘O Lord God of Hosts, Who is like unto Thee? Thou rulest the raging of the sea, Thou stillest the waves thereof when they arise.'
Our Lord upbraided the disciples for their fears and their want of faith. True, they had turned to Him in the hour of danger, and this was well; but their fright and terror proved that their faith was weak. While Christ was with them they need not have been afraid. We ought
to learn this lesson, for this ship in the storm is a type of the Church amid the waves of this troublesome world. The waters rage and swell, and the vessel of the Church seems well-nigh lost. Then we must cry unto the Lord. He may delay to answer us, He may seem to be asleep, but we know that His ear is always open to our prayers. He is only waiting that He may be gracious. He will arise and save us, as He saved the disciples in the little ship on the Sea of Galilee. The waves of the sea are mighty, and rage horribly; but yet the Lord, Who dwelleth on high, is mightier.' Then let us pray
• The world's rude tempest rages,
Rough is life's stormy sea ;
We perish without Thee.'
V.-HEALING OF THE DEMONIACS IN THE
COUNTRY OF THE GADARENES.
We read a great deal in the Gospels of men possessed with devils, and of the unclean spirits being driven out by our Lord. As St. Peter told Cornelius, 'He went about healing all that were oppressed of the devil; and when He sent out His twelve Apostles to proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand, He said unto them, Cast out devils. From this we learn that at least in those days Satan had the power of gaining the mastery of certain persons, entering into them, making use of their eyes, ears, tongue,
Acts, x. 38.