Summary: the call of Christ on a life
PETER – JESUS THE FISHERMAN
Did you ever go fishing as a child? Or maybe you are quite keen on fishing now? There are all different types of fishing – coarse fishing, sea fishing, fly fishing and then there are the commercial fishermen. Recently someone has tried to teach me how to fly fish. I have managed to catch two rainbow trout, one of which is still in our freezer. You know when they opened their tackle box and there was myriad of flies I had no idea which one to lift out and attach to the line but they did. They knew exactly what would attract the fish that day. They knew from years of experience as a fly fisherman. Today in our reading from Luke 5 we have a fishing incident in the life of Simon Peter and a pronouncement at the end of it from Jesus about being a ‘fisher of men.’ Turn with me to Luke 5 verses 1-11 and let us see what we can learn this morning.
VERSES 1-3 THE CONTEXT
Jesus has healed many people and the crowds follow him to the shores of the Sea of Galilee (or lake Genessaret). The crowd are overwhelming Jesus and so to give himself a little room and to enable him to teach them he asks a favour of Simon. He sees Simon’s boat and climbing into it he asks Simon to push out a little into the lake. There are two very obvious reasons for doing this. It enables Jesus to escape from the pressing crowd and the natural slopes of the lakeside form a natural amphitheatre for all to see and hear Jesus as he teaches. Luke tells us that Jesus sits down in the boat – again there is a two fold reason for this. The first being practical – standing in a boat would not be very stable and secondly by sitting Jesus was showing the crowd that he was intending to teach. Just as we today stand to teach in the culture of Jesus the teacher sat down to teach. I find it interesting that Luke does not include the sermon which Jesus preached here. Obviously Luke wants us to understand that the lesson is in the actions and example of Jesus to Simon on this occasion.
THE CATCH – VERSES 4-7.
When Jesus had finished teaching the people he then turned to Simon and instructed him to cast his net over the side of the boat. Now there is a really important lesson for us all in these verses. Simon replies – read verse 5. Simon objects – we have been fishing all night and caught nothing. Can you hear the frustration in his voice? Do you think Peter might just have been annoyed with this suggestion? Can you imagine the tone of the answer which Peter gives? I wonder did he think the Hebrew for the proverb about granny and eggs? You see it was okay for Jesus to use the boat as a pulpit but when it came to fishing well that was Simon’s field of expertise. Simon did not need lessons from a carpenter about fishing. We can be like that too. Some of you resent it when Jesus speaks into your personal life or into your job situation. You resent it when the Word of God is brought to bear on what you see as being non-religious areas of life. You want Jesus and the Word of God to stay in church on a Sunday and not to invade the privacy of your life from Monday to Saturday. But Jesus here demonstrates that his word has power and authority to speak into every and any situation.
Well we see Simon’s response – ‘But because you say so, I will let down the net.’ Simon might disagree with Jesus but he could and he would obey. Again there is a simple but important lesson for us all here. There were many reasons for Simon to argue against doing what Christ had commanded. Simon knew the best time to fish was at night. Simon knew that they had toiled all night in this very spot and with no success. The nets had been cleaned and tidied away. If they cast the nets over the side then they would have to clean them all over again. Lots of reasons for Simon not to obey. Knowing all of this he still obeyed. Remember that when the time comes in your life and everything in your head and your heart tells you one thing and the Word of God commands the very opposite.
Verses 6-7 - The result was miraculous. Simon knew that this was a miracle because he had toiled all night and caught nothing. The amount of fish almost breaks their net and when they call John and James their boat also strains under the weight of the catch. The key to this miraculous catch was obedience in spite of evidence to the contrary. When it seemed futile. When they had cast their nets in that place before. When their seemed no prospect of success still Simon obeyed. Learn from that dear friends. When to your heart and head it seems hopeless, futile, without the prospect of success still obey when God commands you to do something. When you have done it many times before without any joy or answer and God commands you to do it once more – obey. Obedience is the key to this miracle. Jesus had shown Simon that what he thought was empty was in fact full of fish – all it required was to trust and to obey.