Summary: This is a Bible study that focuses on the call of Christ on the life of Peter and how the call is still going out to all the earth to follow.
Midweek Bible Study
August 20, 1997
1. What is happening in the passage? Jesus is beginning another phase of His overall ministry and Luke records this text as a base point for the establishment of Jesus’ followers. Jesus is working at building His ministry in the area of Galilee and great crowds of people were coming to hear Him preach and teach. The need becomes crucial to move from the shore into a boat because the people were crowding Him toward the water. This passage moves in three key stages; The Crowds, the Catch and the Call.
The crowds of people follow Jesus to the Lake and then force Him into a boat because of the massiveness of the crowd. This reveals the magnitude of Jesus’ message and His personal ability to relate to people. Jesus drew people because He was indeed a genuine representation of the love and power of God. These crowds had heard Jesus preach and had seen Him perform miracles. This aspect of Jesus’ ministry had a tremendous impact and imprinted on the people the love that He had for them. The crowds were there because they saw the Truth in Jesus actions and His teachings.
The fishing on this lake was very poor at times and often caused the fishermen to be in times of extreme poverty. These fishermen were hard workers and they had spent the night casting and drawing their nets with not a single fish. Fishing is often a lesson in frustration and these people had their fair share of frustration. It was almost outlandish for Jesus to ask them to go back out to fish again after they had worked all night and caught nothing but Simon did what was asked of him. The result was a miraculous catch of fish that swamped the boat and caused it to nearly sink. This catch would be a once in a lifetime event that cause great joy and elation because of the fortune it would bring.
The call comes after Simon’s statement about being a sinful man and asking Jesus to leave him but Jesus calls Simon and the others to become fishers of men. Jesus saw the potential in this rough and burly fisherman. Potential to change the world and build the future of the church. The whole purpose of the passage becomes the calling of the first disciples to follow and serve the Kingdom.
2. Who are the major characters?
A. Jesus: It is the ministry of Jesus that brings this event about and it is the ministry of Jesus that causes the miracle and the call of these first followers. It is amazing to see how God works in unusual ways to accomplish the goals of the Kingdom. Jesus works to build the Kingdom through these few fishermen and He uses this rag tag bunch to do the will of the Father. Jesus chose those who would be faithful, available and teachable.
B. Simon Peter: Simon was one of the first true followers of Jesus and he made the commitment to be an active part of the ministry of Jesus. Simon left the new found fortune that came to him in this spectacular catch of fish and chose to follow Jesus. He gave up everything to do the work of the Kingdom and this work became the central part of his life. Simon’s faith and work for Jesus led to his death. Church traditions state that Simon Peter was crucified on a cross up side down.
When Jesus called Simon he was not known as the rock or Peter. The Greek term petros which means solid place or rock and it is this same term that is used in the parable of the builders. Simon was anything but a rock or a solid place to build the Kingdom because he was brash, impulsive and unstable. Jesus did not give Simon this name for what he was but rather for what he would become through God’s grace. Simon Peter became one of the key leaders, if not the key leader, in the early church This name was given to him by Jesus at a later time during the three year ministry.
There are two distinct accounts of this name change and there is somewhat of a controversy over this event. In John, the event seems to occur at the time when Jesus meets Simon. (John 1.42) However, the other gospels that account the event have this taking place at Simon’s proclamation of Jesus being the Christ. The most reliable evidence appears in the gospels other than John. This is not to say that there are errors in the scripture but John is not a complete chronological account of Jesus’ life and it is not meant to be a chronology. John is meant to be a defense of the theological statements and standards of the early church.