Summary: Third in series on the miracles of Jesus. The Miracle catch of Fish.
Lesson # 3
“The Miracle Catch of Fish”
Each of the Synoptic Gospels gives an account of Jesus’ call of the disciples. Each writer portrays that a call of few fishermen on the shore of the Sea of Galilee to be his disciples a little differently. Some were mending nets while others still trying to catch a few fish by casting their nets from the shore (Matt 5:18-21). Only Luke’s gospel went into detail about what happened that day and only Luke’s Gospel records the miracle catch of fish.
The Background of the Miracle (vv. 1-4)
“So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, (2) and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. (3) Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. (4) When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."
According to Matthew and Mark the call of the disciples came after the miracles that Jesus performed at Peter’s house in Capernaum. This is important to realize or we might have the impression that Jesus just happened to be by the Sea of Galilee (Luke calls it Lake Gennesaret) where he invited four strangers to become his disciples. But that is not how it happened at all.
It is highly likely that these men had been witnesses of the miracles that Jesus performed in Jerusalem prior to returning to Galilee. They would have no doubt been in the synagogue in Capernaum. So Jesus’ call to discipleship is no spontaneous invitation to strangers, but a reasoned response to a well timed invitation. Jesus had already invested significant time in to building a relationship with these men prior to their call to service.
These men understood well what the life of a disciple entailed; the disciple would live with the teacher for a period of a few years in an effort to master all that the teacher knew and to be like him as much as possible. It was to just such a rigorous life that Jesus’ was inviting these four fishermen to enter into.
The Elements of the Miracle (vv. 4-5)
Simon had been washing and mending his
nets, while keeping one ear listening to what Jesus was teaching. After all he had other responsibilities and duties to perform. He had to fish to make a living for his family. Jesus’ call for Simon to launch out into deeper water is an analogy of what He wants to do in Simon’s life. Jesus is going to take Simon Peter to deeper, more personal commitment to Himself.
The Command of Jesus (vv.4-5a)
“When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch. (5) “But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing;…”
It seems that in almost every conversation involving Jesus and the disciples, Peter is the first to speak, to voice an opinion, he however is not always right. (Matt 16:22-23, 26:33-34). On this occasion Peter seems to say out loud what all of the disciples are probably thinking.
The Obstacles to Obedience
Peter is clearly reluctant to do as Jesus as commanded. In fairness to Peter, he was an experienced fisherman he had several serious obstacles to overcome in order to respond in faith to the request of Jesus.
But it should be remembered that the people who heard Jesus preach probably also heard Jesus command to Peter to launch out into the deep and try again. So how Peter responds to the command of Jesus is not just a private statement but also a public demonstration of faith.
• The obstacle of fatigue.
Peter readily admits that he is tired and so are all
of the disciples. It’s hard to obey God when your body is crying out for rest. I realize that many of you are tired tonight; you are here in the Bible study by a shire act of will. It is certainly possible to be so busy with our lives that we have no time left for God. The sad thing is that some busy people end up giving God the leftovers; of their time, their talents and their resources. But to Peter credit he refused to give in to his fatigue, but rather said, “but because you said so.”
• The obstacle of his own past experiences
We are tempted to be guided by our experiences instead of what God says. The Lord asks Peter to do something contrary to his own expertise in fishing. According to everything that he knows about fishing, and he is a professional, he can’t see anyway at all that what Jesus asks is going to work. The best fishing on the Sea of Galilee was at night close to shore. But Jesus had asked him to launch out into the deep in the middle of the day. This was asking a great deal of Peter. He was asking him to trust His Word. He was in effect asking Simon to try again even though he had failed in the past. This of course would be an important lesson for Peter in the future, not to allow past failure to keep him from serving the Lord. God may ask you to try again even if you have failed in the past. Will you allow past failure to keep you from following the Lord?