Summary: Do we experience Jesus while we’re working? Are we ready for church growth? Do we see daily miracles? Let’s find out in Luke 5:1-11.
Do we experience Jesus while we’re working? Are we ready for church growth? Do we see daily miracles? Let’s find out in Luke 5:1-11.
Luke 5:1-2 “Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets.”
Lake of Gennesaret was named after the town of Gennesaret on the lake’s northwest corner. It is also called the Sea of Galilee and Lake Tiberias. Today it is the largest body of freshwater in Israel and is the world’s lowest body of freshwater at 700 feet below sea level. At the time of Jesus’ ministry it was a wealthy fishing area filled with boats. Today there are few boats to be seen.
Luke 5:3-4 ‘And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat. When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”’
Notice Jesus sat down to preach, the customary teaching position for Rabbis at the time. This miracle is repeated, at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and as a reminder to the disciples at the end. After teaching on this weekday, Jesus encouraged Peter to get back to work, even telling him where.
Perhaps the immediacy indicates Jesus’ disappointment in the response from the crowd. Humbly, Peter the expert fisherman, follows the Rabbi’s instructions. Would we be so humble as to follow directions from someone not of our profession? Jesus now wants to bless Peter’s work, as He wants to bless our weekday work.
Luke 5:5-6 “Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break...”
The word Peter used for master was overseer, superintendent, or in our slang “boss.” Is Jesus asking us to let down our nets? What are fishnets for? How is evangelism like letting down our nets? We provide the nets and the effort, but it is God who fills the nets.
The nets were so full that they almost ruptured. This can happen to churches too, during a sudden growth spurt. It can threaten to rupture the fabric of the local church. Most churches would probably prefer slow growth, so that newcomers can assimilate, but God doesn’t always work that way.
Luke 5:7-8 ‘so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!”’
Was the hand-signal used so as not to frighten the fish, or did they not want to shout in front of Jesus? Does this teach us that sometimes when God performs a miracle in the church, there’s no time for meditation or amazement? Can a miracle signal time for work?
As Peter saw the overwhelming catch, he immediately recognized the source of the miraculous blessing. Blunt and truthful, Peter realized his own unworthiness to be in Jesus’ presence. When God blesses our lives in some way, do we react in a similar manner, grateful yet also embarrassed by our sinfulness?
Luke 5:9-10 ‘For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”’
Slowly, after the work was done, it dawned on them how amazing this blessing was. Do we meditate on God’s amazing creation from the smallest DNA, to the incredible design of our planet, to the uniqueness of our solar system and enormity of the Universe? Does God’s design amaze us?
As fish are borne out of water, so all disciples are born from the waters of baptism. Since that experience, Christians have throughout history described themselves as little fishes, and the symbol of a fish was used to identify a safe house, a Christian home in the midst of persecution.
Luke 5:11 “When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.”
They forsook all for Jesus, but then for a moment after the crucifixion, returned to their fishing. After His resurrection, Jesus used a similar miracle to remind them who He is. Do we hold something in reserve, or have we left ALL our sinful life behind us to follow Jesus?