Summary: An analysis of Jesus' calling of his first disciples will teach us what characterizes a true disciple of Jesus.
III. A True Disciple Is a Penitent Disciple (5:8-10a)
Third, a true disciple is a penitent disciple.
A true disciple of Jesus must turn from sin. Simon Peter turned from sin, and was perhaps the first true disciple of Jesus to repent of his sin.
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 (5:8-10a).
Peter was astonished at the catch of fish, but he was completely overwhelmed by realizing that he—a sinful man—was in the presence of Jesus. It is at this point that Peter realized that Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of sinners. And the reason I say that is because in verse 5 Peter called Jesus “Master,” but here in verse 9 he now calls him “Lord.” Commentator Alfred Plummer says, “It is the ‘Master’ whose orders must be obeyed, the ‘Lord’ whose holiness causes moral agony to the sinner.” Peter was acknowledging the sovereign and supreme lordship and holiness of Jesus, even as he acknowledged and confessed his own sinfulness and depravity.
Every true disciple is a penitent disciple. Far too many people simply want “fire insurance.” They don’t want to burn in hell, and so they will say whatever is necessary to escape hell. So, they will say that they are sorry for their sin and that they want to give it up, but there is no real turning. Or, they are sorry for a short while, but after a period they become dulled to the ongoing sin in their lives. And before long they have happily wandered back into the ways of the world.
Every true disciple says what Peter said, “I am a sinful man, O Lord.” And he does not only do it once, at the start of the Christian life, but he does it constantly, throughout his Christian life.
IV. A True Disciple Tells Others About Jesus (5:10b)
Fourth, a true disciple tells others about Jesus.
Thankfully, Jesus does not leave us in a penitent state. First, he said to Simon, “Do not be afraid” (5:10b). Jesus assured Peter that his sins did not disqualify him from God’s love. In fact, it is only those who recognize and confess their sins that God will forgive and use.
And then Jesus said to Simon Peter, “From now on you will be catching men” (5:10b). Jesus was calling Peter to serve him by catching men. This calling was not only for Peter but every true disciple of Jesus. While it is true that some have the gift of evangelism, all true disciples of Jesus are to be actively engaged in the enterprise of evangelism. All true disciples tell others about Jesus.
Let me ask you: when is the last time someone came to faith in Jesus because of you? When is the last time you shared the gospel with someone?
Let me make another bold statement: If you never cast your fishing rod, you will never catch a fish! It is just that simple. So, how do you catch people for Jesus? Invite them to church. Invite them to a Bible study. Invite them to a fellowship event. Tell them about Jesus. Tell them about what God has done in your life. Make Jesus a natural part of your daily conversation with everyone!