Summary: Lessons Learned from a Miracle of Christ
The Miracles of Jesus
The miracles of Jesus were primarily to demonstrate His power over His creation. When Jesus did miracles, He demonstrated that He had power over the wind and the waves, over demons and disease, over blindness and deafness. He had power over life, even to the point of resurrection.
All the miracles that we read in the Gospels are miracles that were done to demonstrated that Jesus was the Christ, the long-anticipated Messiah who had come to his own people. The miracles were signs to the people who observed them saying, “This is the Son of God.”
The miraculous fishing expedition which we will consider today is a miracle with a message. The message is that each Christian is called to follow the Lord as a dedicated follower, or a disciple of Jesus Christ.
The story begins with Jesus teaching by the Sea of Galilee (or in some translations, The Lake of Gennesaret). The crowd was pushing in so close to Jesus that he got into a fishing boat and put out a little ways from the shore so that He could teach the people. Now I want you to see how Jesus deals with his disciples, or His followers. Jesus turned to Simon and he asked him to push his boat out into the shallow waters. Oh dear friend, Jesus can be a gentle master if you listen to Him! He did not immediately challenge Simon to go out into the deep water; He challenged him to put out a little from the shore.
Then notice with me that Jesus began to teach the disciples. Once Jesus has your attention, once He has your obedience and you push out into the shallow water, He will teach you lessons. I don’t know what Jesus taught the people. We do not have His message preserved for us in this passage. But I do know this: Jesus had to teach them lessons in the shallow water that would prepare them for a journey into the deep waters.
1. The Disciples Caught on to the Lord’s Instruction
a. The first thing that the disciples do is to respond to their Master’s instructions. Peter knew a lot about fishing, but he was learning about discipleship. After Jesus had finished teaching, he instructed Simon Peter, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
b. One of the first things that we learn from this story is that it is not necessary to fully understand God’s instructions in order to obey them. It is obvious that Peter did not understand what Jesus wanted him to do, but he obeyed nonetheless. Even though they had fished all night without catching a single fish, they went out into the deep water and let down their nets. Against reason, against experience, against precedent—against everything human, they obeyed what Jesus asked them to do.
c. I would say that about ten percent of the time I find myself in situations like Peter did—not understanding what God is asking me to do. Most of the time I think I see where the Lord is directing me and why. But it’s those times when it’s not clear that I have to live in the disciple’s mode of obedience: “Lord I’m doing this because I’m the disciple and You’re the Master. I trust that You know what I need to do.”
d. That happens to me as a pastor just as it does to you—sometimes in large vocational areas I’ve had to walk purely on the basis of obedience, not understanding at all what God is doing.
e. But that is the essence of discipleship. That is the heart of reading the Bible and attending church. Not to get a good set of notes or to sing some nice songs. It is to cultivate a lifestyle of walking in obedience to Jesus Christ as a disciple.
2. The Disciples Caught a Vision of What God Can Do
a. When the disciples obeyed Jesus and let down their nets, they found themselves in the middle of a miracle. They suddenly realized just what Jesus was capable of doing. Their concept of Him as the Messiah took a quantum leap forward. They learned that the commandments of God are the enablements of God as well.
b. As fisherman, they knew that at night the fish schooled in toward the shore and near the surface, which is why they fished at night. When the day came and the sun heated the surface of the water, the fish would go back out into the lake into the deeper, cooler waters—deeper than any net could reach..
c. Jesus told them, “You’ve fished all night where the fish are supposed to be, and you caught nothing. Now it’s day, so go into the middle of the lake and fish near the surface with your nets where the fish aren’t supposed to be—and watch what happens.”