Past Performance Is No Guarantee of Future Results

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, ”Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

”No,” they answered.

He said, ”Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

– John 21:4-6 (NIV)

 

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ”Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, ”Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.

-Luke 5:4-6

 

If you have any experience with investing, you’ve probably come across the phrase “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.”

Essentially, it’s a warning akin to “caveat emptor.” Just because a stock has done well in the past does not mean it will do well in the future.

Consider, though, that God has a way of changing things when He gets involved. With Jesus, the phrase takes on a whole different meaning, in life if not in stocks. The disciples in the verses above had been fishing and had not caught anything on their own efforts. Then Jesus told them to try one more time.

Their past performance would seem to indicate that failure would once again be replicated. Simon Peter begrudgingly said, “Because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

But now, the power of God was at work. Both times, the fishermen were successful far beyond their expectations.

“Past performance is no guarantee of future results” took on a whole new meaning for them.

With God’s power, anything is possible.

Doubting Thomas and the Blessings of Belief

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

– John 20:24-29 (NIV)

Who has not had their own experience with someone who just won’t believe unless things are right there in front of them?

United States Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch recounts one such story with a family member just before the announcement concerning his nomination was made public. Everything was kept secret from the press. Gorsuch and his wife were smuggled into the White House in secret and told not to tell anyone. But, it would be okay for his wife, who was born in Britain, to tell family members back home just before the announcement.

 

The President had offered me that historic spot [the Lincoln Bedroom] as an office for the day. Knowing that Louise was born and raised in England, he gave her the use of the bedroom across the hall typically reserved for Queen Elizabeth and once occupied by Winston Churchill. Finding a little time late in the day, Louise rang her father back in England to tell him the news, but before she could say anything my father-in-law interjected that he had stayed up to watch the announcement. He had seen all the reporting, and he was sure that a friend of mine was about to get the nod. Louise replied that she was pretty sure I was the pick. No, he countered, the other fellow was caught on television just now driving toward Washington, and the newscasters were sure it was him. My father-in-law wasn’t even convinced when Louise told him that we had slipped through the White House kitchen entrance and were now in the Lincoln Bedroom. Maybe the real nominee was in a room down the hall?

Neil Gorsuch with Jane Nitze and David Feder, A Republic, If You Can Keep It (New York: Crown Forum, 2019), 5.

 

Sometimes people will not believe something no matter what you tell them. And it’s true with the Gospels that the events on the cross happened almost 2,000 years ago. Even today we use the term “Doubting Thomas” for those who do not listen to testimony and facts.

But just as Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Behold, the Lamb of God

view of London Park's Crystal Palace from the outside.
By Read & Co. Engravers & Printers – View from the Knightsbridge Road of The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park for Grand International Exhibition of 1851. Dedicated to the Royal Commissioners., London: Read & Co. Engravers & Printers, 1851., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48718934

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
– John 1:29, NKJV

The great 19th century British preacher Charles Spurgeon was set to deliver a service in London’s Crystal Palace. This huge structure was originally built in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition of 1851. It held 990,000 square feet of floor space, stretching 1,851 feet long with an interior ceiling rising to 128 feet. The glass allowed for natural light to come in while keeping rain out.

It was later relocated to the south of London, and remained standing as a landmark until it was destroyed by fire between the World Wars.

In 1857, Spurgeon reserved the space for worship services. Over 23,000 people would attend to listen to his sermon.

Spurgeon related an amusing story about preparing for that sermon, one that led to a difference in one man’s life. This was relayed by Randy Alcorn in his book, We Shall See God.

 

In 1857, a day or two before preaching at the Crystal Palace, I went to decide where the platform should be fixed; and, in order to test the acoustic properties of the building, cried in a loud voice, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” In one of the galleries, a workman, who knew nothing of what was being done, heard the words, and they came like a message from heaven to his soul. He was smitten with conviction on account of sin, put down his tools, went home, and there, after a season of spiritual struggling, found peace and life by beholding the Lamb of God.

Randy Alcorn, We Shall See God: Charles Spurgeon’s Classic Devotional Thoughts on Heaven (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2011), 108.

 

Alcorn indicated the man would be forever grateful that when Spurgeon did a sound check that day, he did not simply count to ten.

Today, it’s your turn. Behold, the Lamb of God!

 

 

Matthew 28:5-7

Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”
– Matthew 28:5-7 (NLT)

 

He is risen indeed! Happy Easter!

Matthew 27:62-66

Now on the next day, which was the day after the Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees were gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Command therefore that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest perhaps his disciples come at night and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He is risen from the dead;’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone.
–  Matthew 27:62-66 (WEB)

 

Well, that didn’t work.