Well here we are again, and today we are going to continue to talk about those miracles that Jesus was known so well for. The particular miracle we are going to look at today is an important one. This specific miracle got caught Jesus four disciples! Now that had to be some good bait He was using! If you haven’t figured it out yet, this miracle had to do with fishing. And fishing done right! But this day isn’t so much about fishing as it is about having faith. Let’s see exactly what happened.
Well by now people have heard about Him and his miracles. So as He is walking along the Sea of Galilee the people begun to surround Him, and like any good teacher, He begins to share with them the Word of God. But more and more people come and the next thing you know, He is up against the edge of the lake and people are pushing up against Him more and more trying to hear what He has to say. So, He looks around and sees 2 small boats setting there and the fishermen cleaning their nets on the shore. So He asks one of them to sue his boat for a bit. That fisherman happens to be Simon Peter. Jesus gets in the boat and pushes it out away from shore and stands up and begins teaching the people again, without being crowded. Now this miracle wasn’t so much for the crowd or the sick as it was for his disciples. At this point Christ has decided it is time to begin his ministry. So, he asks Simon Peter to throw out his nets. Now the fishermen had just fished all night and got nothing. They knew there were no fish this close by the shore and told Jesus so. But by faith Simon did as he was asked. Well it wasn’t a few minutes and as he began to pull up the net he realized it was so full of fish it began to break. He calls to his friends with the second boat, James and John. They bring out their other boat and they all try to pull in the full net. Well it is still so full, as they dump the fish into the boat, the boats get so full they began to sink.
What would you think? Well being a recreational fisherman, I would think its pretty cool to catch more fish in an hour than I did in most of my life, but remember these guys did this for a living! Two boats full of large fish was probably a months worth of wages for these guys. That is am important thing to remember. But it doesn’t take Simon long to realize the most important thing. That is, they fished all night long in the same spot and caught nothing. This man comes along and asks them to throw out a net and bang, so many fish they can’t keep the boat above water! And then Simon has the moment. The moment in his life where he realizes he is in the presence of God. He doesn’t thank him for showing him the new method of fishing or the better place to fish, He realizes that these fish were not here a minute ago and only God can command nature to do things. Simon does as we all should do, he immediately falls to his knees and admits he is a sinful man. He doesn’t look for more bait, he doesn’t try to empty the nets for another try, he realizes there is a reason this happened and only Jesus knows the reason.
Remember earlier I said this miracle isn’t so much about fishing, it is more about faith. Well here are three fishermen and their helpers and they all just witnessed a miracle. And Jesus has a reason. He looks at them and in verses 10 and 11 it reads, “Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him”. There is that faith I was talking about. You see there is always a reason for a miracle. Yes they help people out, they heal people bodies, they feed people or in some cases they raise someone from the dead. But in every case they show God’s power. In this case Simon Peter, James and John needed some help giving up everything they had to follow a teacher. Or as they quickly realized, to follow the only person that could save them.
Let’s back up a few verses. Back in verse 6 it says, “When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" Why do you think Simon did that? I think he realized two things. First he realized he was in the presence of His Savior, His God. And that alone is enough, or should be enough to drop us to our knees pleading for forgiveness, just like Simon did. But I also think Simon realized that His Savior was going to ask more from him than just to use his boat for a few minutes.
If we look at our own lives and our own situations, it isn’t any different. We don’t always see it, but as our Savior comes into our life, sometimes in a powerful and life altering way, we should not only realize who saved us, who performed the miracle in our life, like making us well again, or saving us from our own mistakes but also that He wants something from us as well. We need to realize just as Simon did that He has not only shown His power to us to help us grow in our Spiritual life but it is also time for us to now do as He asks us to do. You noticed Simons words there? “Go away from me Lord, I am a sinful man.” Do you think he was ashamed of the things he had already done? Or that He realized that the Christ may want more from him? (pause) I think it was both.
So here we are in Simon Peter’s position. Jesus comes along in our lives as He already has with each of us and shows His power maybe in a miracle maybe in another way, but in any case, we each are saved. And now He asks us to follow Him and as He did with Simon Peter, from now on, he told Simon, you will catch men. Or as another book says it, in Matthew, He tells Simon Peter and his brother Andrew, “I will make you fishers of men.” To understand how important that statement is we need to understand what our Lord is asking of him, and of us.
First, we do as Simon Peter did. We accept he is our Lord and our Savior, and while we admit who He is, we also need to do as Simon did and admit who we are, sinners. Simon thought, “I am not worthy, I am a lowly sinner in the presence of God” and that should be our thought as well. However we have this added promise from the New Testament. We know He came to die for us and was able to defeat death so we too can defeat death and live forever with Him. Simon did that when He both admitted who Christ was and that he himself was guilty of sin. As we come before our God and do that we also need to do as Simon went on to do. He went on to follow Christ with his life. He was willing to change his life, his profession, his friends, where he lived, anything he was asked to do to follow his Savior. We are called to do the same.
When we realize that we are in His presence we also must realize we are called to change our lives. We can read it in Matthew 28, the Great Commission. We are called to follow Him and go out into the world and not only tell others about Him but make them disciples. We are each in fact, called to be Christ following, Christ teaching disciples and make others into disciples as well. Not just believers. When Jesus told Simon Peter, Andrew, John and James to follow Him and He would make them fishers of men it wasn’t to throw the fish back. It wasn’t to speak about Him to others and then leave them to fend for themselves. It was to catch them. It was to catch men and women and children in the big fishing net of God.
Now we may think, that’s no fun. I wasn’t meant to be a Preacher or a Pastor or a Teacher. Let me give you an example.
I am not a professional fisherman. I would like to be, but I just do not have the skill or the time to spend every hour of my life on the water fishing. So, does that mean I can’t fish? Or does that mean I can’t be good enough at it to catch fish? By no means!
A few years ago I took my family fishing at a lake in Northern California. I spoke to others around the lake to find out what fish were there and what they were biting on. I spoke to the people at the bait shop to find out where everyone was fishing, what type of fishing line and what time of day they were catching fish. Then after learning all those things, buying the right type of bait and renting the right boat, I went to get my wife and children. Now the first thing I realized about fishing was that it isn’t any fun if you don’t catch fish. A child will not like fishing if they never catch anything. So, I have the right equipment, I have the right bait, I found the right spot and knew when the fish were biting.
Well catching men for God is no different. You do need to be a professional Preacher or Teacher, you just have to know enough to know what the people need. You have to know when to do it, How to do it and Where to do it. And then Let God help you do the rest.
That day we pulled the boat up into a little cove, and there were 2 other boats already there. We did not push too close, we just started fishing and found some patience. In a few minutes those boats left and moved a little closer. I baited each hook for my children before my own. I untangled fishing lines, and in some cases I even casted out the line for the younger ones. In the next hour we caught 15 fish, I did not even get a chance to pick up my own fishing pole. I was putting on more bait, unhooking fish, helping the kids untangle lines, unhooking more fish putting on more bait over and over again. In an hour we had more fish than we could eat, and they were beautiful fish, mostly rainbow trout.
Remember, I started out by saying I am not a professional fisherman, not even close. But to be successful at fishing all I needed to do was study up a little bit, ask others the right questions, find the right place and use the right bait, and it allowed every member of my family to experience success in fishing. I would even go as far to say that has happened over and over again at different ponds and lakes around the country, and my children love to go fishing.
Catching people for God, is no different. You need to read the Word, follow a good Teach, that is Jesus himself and what He teaches. You need to know what they need to hear. That means the love of Christ inside you will guide you as the Holy Spirit does, to who you need to talk to and how to do it. God will put the right words in your mouth, if you allow Him to lead you to the right fishing hole. And if you have all those things, you become a successful fisherman of men. Not a professional Preacher or Pastor, unless that is you are called to be those things, and then all you need to do is continue to allow you to be led by God and He will teach you to do that as well.
Remember these words. God does not call the prepared, He prepares the called. He did not train Simon Peter, and Andrew and John and James and then say “follow me”. He called them, as He calls us and prepared them for ministry as they followed their Lord. We are in the same boat, literally. We are each called to follow in different ways, in different places but all of us are called to fish. We are each called to fish or men and women and children to pull them in to God’s Kingdom. It is up to us to step out of the boat, and follow the Miracle Worker. It is up to us to put down whatever it is that holds us in our old lives and take the steps of Faith that Simon Peter took. And if we have that faith, and if we follow that teacher, our nets too will be so full, they break under the weight of the fish. We will be proud to be called “fishers of men”.
Would you pray with me?