“On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’ And Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.’ And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’ For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.” – Luke 5:1-10a
“Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men. Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.
Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” – Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:10b -11
Don’t miss the first sentence. They were “pressing in on [Jesus] to hear the word of God.” People want their ears “tickled” with self-affirming, empty, hollow mumbo jumbo, but there are those who crave, long, and desire to hear the truth spoken. Don’t forget that. Don’t ignore the fact that truth is stronger than the lie, God’s word is more powerful than the world’s “truths” and that we were created to know God. God is greater and His Word is stronger. Amen!
Jesus asks Simon to work a bit more after a long night of work. Does obedience sometimes feel difficult, even exhausting? Yes. There is a gift in this verse for you. For every service, there is a fresh supply of grace. Simon puts the boat out and listens to Jesus. He is a captive audience as he keeps the boat steady and straight. Jesus is out to get Simon. After Jesus finishes teaching, Jesus asks for Simon’s obedience again to do more work. “Because you say so.” Simon makes it clear that he doesn’t want to do this, but he obeys Jesus. Notice that Simon’s disagreement does not negate his obedience or his reward! We may think we know better than God as we live our daily lives, but what matters is obeying God. Simon’s faith is rewarded with a miracle of confirmation in the deity of Jesus. What man can’t see, God can. What man is searching for, God already has.
Peter falls down at Jesus’ feet and begs Jesus to leave him because he is a sinner. Don’t miss the drama of the moment. This miracle makes Peter see his own sin and unworthiness. “Those whom Christ would bring near must first see that they deserve to be at the greatest distance from Him” Matthew Henry says. We must remember that our sins separate us from God, that we are the greatest of sinners and that we are the most unworthy of God’s grace. This cannot but make us humble, understanding, compassionate and full of grace when we speak to those who do not yet know Jesus. Let this truth sink into you the next time you feel like saying or posting something sarcastic, snarky, mean-spirited or self-righteous on Facebook.
“From now on you will be fisher’s of men. Come, follow me. Don’t be afraid.” Jesus assures them they have nothing to fear. Their sins will not separate them from Jesus, but it is in fact their recognition of their sins allows them to come close to Him. The same is true for you and me. Jesus calls them to follow Him. Jesus wanted these men to watch Him, be near to Him, live with Him, and then imitate Him. Being near to Jesus will make them like Jesus. Also, isn’t it interesting that James and John don’t take as much convincing as Peter? Jesus preaches a sermon and performs a miracle before Peter follows Jesus. Jesus simply calls James and John, and they drop their nets and follow Him.
What about you? Are you following Jesus? Are you so close to God that you can imitate Him. Do you know Him, His character, His nature? Can you hear Him clearly, do you know His voice, and do you listen and obey His voice? Jesus invites us to follow Him, and it is the goal of this blog series of mine to take you through the Gospels so that you may “Come and see” the beauty and wonder of our Lord.