Summary: The disciple Peter is the first mentioned in all four Gospels. Jesus knew Peter was a diamond in the rough and not merely a rock.
Peter was the leader of the disciples. Simon was his real name and Jesus gave him the name Peter in addition. Peter means “Rock” (Petros in the Greek) and the church was founded on this rock. John MacCarthur refers to him as the disciple with the foot shaped mouth. His name is always listed first when the disciples are listed in the Gospel accounts. Peter’s name is mentioned in the Gospels more than any other name except Jesus. No one speaks as often as Peter, and no one is spoken to by the Lord as often as Peter. No disciple is so frequently rebuked by the Lord as Peter and no disciple ever rebukes the Lord except Peter. No one else confessed Christ more boldly, yet no disciple ever verbally denied Christ as forcefully or as publicly. Peter was eager, aggressive, bold and outspoken. There are so many favorite “Peter” accounts, but perhaps one that stands out most in my mind is when Peter walked on water. You remember the account: Jesus came to the disciples one night out in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, walking on the water in the midst of a violent storm. Peter recognized Jesus and said; “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water”, and Jesus said “come”. And Peter was out of the boat walking on the water while the rest of the disciples were clinging to their seats for fear of falling overboard. And we know that when Peter began to doubt, he sank. People often look at that incident and criticize Peter’s lack of faith. But he was the only one who stepped out in faith and left the boat to begin with. Instead of concentrating on the weakness of Peter that brought him down, we should remember where he was when he began to sink. One of my favorite books is written by Pastor John Ortberg and entitled; “If You Want To Walk On Water, You’ve Got To Get Out Of The Boat”! When I was called into ministry my wife believes this book title should be changed to; “If You Want To Walk On Water, Sometimes God Throws You Out Of The Boat!” Test the limits, believe God’s Word.
We are reading from the Gospel of Luke, and his account of Peter’s first calling into ministry. (Luke 5:1-11)
Jesus had attracted a crowd eager to hear a Word from God. The Sea of Gennesaret, the Sea of Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee are three names used for one of the most famous bodies of water in the world. Situated over 600 feet below sea level, it is a most beautiful sight. Tiberias is located on the western shore of this freshwater lake. The Sea of Galilee is beautiful by day and gorgeous by night.
During the mid-eighties a severe drought drained the lake to its lowest level ever. During that time a boat dating back to the first century was discovered. After years of careful restoration, the boat is now on display called “the Jesus boat” because it dates to the time period of His ministry. Jesus could very well have sailed in this boat or one of similar size to the one pictured here.
When the sermon was over, Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Let’s go fishing!” What He actually said was, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch!” Peter had no problem with Jesus using his boat for a pulpit but, when Jesus wanted to use his boat for fishing, Peter had a problem. “Jesus, you stick with preaching and let us handle the fishing.” Jesus wanted Peter to see that his means of earning a living could also be a means of sharing the gospel. Jesus showed Peter that fishing and preaching are not as far apart as Peter thought. That’s a lesson God is still teaching. He wants our conduct to be the same at work, school, in recreation, at home and at church. Jesus wants people to see His life in us, wherever we are and whatever we are doing.
Listen to Peter’s response. He said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” Peter had indeed worked hard, to the point of exhaustion all night long and had come up empty handed. Have you ever felt that way? After your best efforts, you have come up empty-handed. Not just after one day but after years of trying, you have still come up short, with not much to show for all the effort you have invested. Jesus knows and is issuing the same call to you and me as He did to Peter. Get back out there to the deep water, get in over your head and lower your nets one more time. Even though you appear to have failed, try again, risk again, believe again, and work again. What an encouraging word this is to us.