Summary: Jesus calls Simon, and us, to follow him and to be transformed
4/2/01 6 p.m. Luke 5:1-11 : Fishing For Fishermen
The Fourth Before Lent Year C
5 1 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, 2 he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." 5 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." 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 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. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men." 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Have you ever had the experience of someone who invades your personal space ? You are having a conversation with them and they stand a little too close to you and make you feel uncomfortable. You feel like you want to step back half a pace so they will keep their distance.
In today’s gospel reading we have Jesus invading Simon’s space. This was not the first time that Jesus and Simon had met. In 4:38 we read that Jesus left the synagogue and went to Simon’s home afterwards where he healed his mother-in-law who had a high fever.
So Simon had encountered Jesus before and witnessed his power over sickness. He had probably heard Jesus preach before. Jesus used his boat as a floating pulpit. I have been on the shore of Lake Galilee and can imagine a crowd of people on the slopes, like a mini-amphitheatre, listening to the words of Jesus carrying across the still waters in the morning light.
Simon was tired that morning. He and his fellow fishermen had been fishing all night. In fact, Simon was tired and rather fed up, because they had caught nothing. He normally didn’t mind washing and repairing the nets if they had got a good catch, but it almost seemed to rub salt into the wound that they had caught nothing. He just wanted to go home and sleep. Perhaps tomorrow night’s fishing would be better.
Then Jesus came to ask Simon if he could borrow his boat hereadily agreed. How could he refuse after what Jesus had done for his mother-in-law ? After pushing a few yards out, Peter lay back in the boat, enjoying the sunshine, listening as Jesus addressed the crowd in the sitting position, the normal stance of a teacher.
Jesus was a good speaker. He made the Scriptures relevant, easy to understand, he spoke with authority and had a good sense of humour ! But suddenly he had finished and was talking to Simon. "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch."
Simon had been happy letting Jesus do his own thing. Healing, teaching, and driving out demons. But this carpenter’s son was now telling him how to fish ! Simon had been fishing with his father from the time that he could walk. You didn’t fish in the morning when the sun reflected off the water making it difficult to see. A mixture of indignation and resentment welled up inside Simon. But he put these to one side and decided he had better follow Jesus instructions. After all, he had already done miracles and he and his colleagues had failed to catch anything in their own strength. So he said, "Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."
This is an example of faith. Sometimes God calls us to step out in obedience to him when it seems to defy logic and all our experience. But unless we do step out in faith, God cannot bless us.
Simon was blessed with this enormous catch of fish. So big that he had to call his partners to help fetch them all in. This shows the power of Jesus over nature and his willingness to provide in abundance for his followers. Even as they pulled the fish in the fishermen were on a knife edge. There was this gigantic catch, but the danger of their boats sinking.