Summary: What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?
It’s been a while since I’ve been on a fishing trip. I used to use fishing as a means of getting away and having some time of quiet. I also used to go fishing with my grand-pap on the Delaware Bay. We’d pull in stripers, croakers, and my favorite fish, fresh flounder. Out on the boat, there is a sense of liberty from the stresses of life. All the work, early mornings, rigging, boat maintenance, baiting, and so on just added to the experience.
A young boy went fishing with a cane pole in a stream, soon a few teenagers arrived with nice rods & reels and expensive lures. Those boys began to laugh and play as they cast their lines and reeled them in over and over again; after a couple of hours, they had not caught a single fish. However, the little boy patiently watched the tip of his pole and periodically he would catch a fish. One of the teenagers yelled over to where he was and said "how are you catching all these fish? We have reels and lures and we haven't had a bite! " He replied "well, it could be because I am fishing for fish and you are fishing for fun." (Credit: Kevin Jones)
Someone once said that “a bad day fishing is better than a good day of work.” I would have to agree with that. Unless, of course, you are a fisherman by trade. The Sea of Galilee is a marvelous freshwater lake in Northern Israel. It is teeming with fish and so it was a popular trade in Jesus’ day. Peter was one of those fishermen who lived in Capernaum and depended on the lake for his livelihood.
What Peter didn’t realize is that Jesus was going to call Peter, his brother Andrew, James, and John to leave a profitable trade of fishing to a more urgent and eternal matter of people’s souls, but it was going to cost him everything.
1 On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:1–11 ESV)
1. The Message of Jesus is a Call for Surrender and Trust
As Jesus traditionally did, he was preaching to crowds. Jesus’ ministry was primarily a preaching ministry. On this day, Jesus was on the shores of the Sea of Galilee near Capernaum. We don’t know how much attention Peter was paying to Jesus’ message, but if he was listening, he was likely only catching bits and pieces of the message because he was preoccupied with taking care of these nets. The previous night was a bad night of fishing and a bad night of work for the crew. They had been skunked.
As Jesus is preaching the intensity of the crowd is growing. From the time of his first message in Nazareth to the time of the demonic in Capernaum, to Peter’s mother-in-law is healed, and the many in Capernaum being healed Jesus’ popularity is growing. Now Jesus is being literally pressed by the crowds and so he commandeers Peter’s boat to continue his preaching ministry.
The Sea of Galilee has unique acoustical characteristics that when you are on the shore, or just offshore, a person’s voice will travel up the hill, much like an amphitheater. So after Jesus finishes teaching, he now is going to provide Simon-Peter an object lesson of his own. “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” (Lk 5:4).