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. 4 When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 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.” 6 When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; 7 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. 8 But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9 For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which 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 fear, from now on you will be catching men.” 11 When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him. (Luke 5:3-11)
Though he’s exhausted from working all night at his fishing trade, as an obedient follower of Christ, Simon Peter goes the extra mile to toss in his net one more time just because ‘Jesus said so.’ How many of us can relate to this?
When you hear “go and make disciples” do you obediently head out the door into the mission field? When you hear a message on Matthew 25, do you run out to feed the hungry, clothe the poor and visit those in prison? If you’re like most of us, obediance to the Master usually comes with some struggles in prayer first and a few good excuses before you just cast your net into the waters.
In contrast, Peter quickly followed direction from the Master. But I don’t think he cast his net assuming “if I obey Jesus and do what He says, I’ll get my reward.” A reward wasn’t even on his radar and he certainly wasn’t prepared for the weight of a blessing either. Peter simply followed orders from the Master and was surprised at the outcome.
When this reward of fish filled his net, he didn’t attribute it to his own obedience, to the contrary,
When the haul of fish came in, he realized the power behind it and fell down at the feet of his Master acknowledging his sin! What a lesson in humility when we’re being abundantly blessed!
The account raises some questions to ponder. If we call Jesus our Master and obediently follow the things written, is it because we think we’ll gain heaven? Is it because we think He’ll fill our nets with new disciples/fish? Are we fishing for a reward or just doing it because ‘Jesus said so?’ And what happens when we receive the things for which we pray? How do we react when suddenly the net is filled? Do we immediately brag up ourselves or gain a false sense of security that we must be in the “right church” since the reward is in our net? Or do we hit the deck in amazement as Simon Peter did knowing we’re in the presence of The Almighty immediately recognizing how insignificant we really are?
Jesus did not end His command to fish with “…and if you obey, you will catch,” rather, He already GRANTED it to them saying, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”
And catch they did! And an argument over which of them was the greatest was the result of such favor being shown! One was catching more than the other, so they argued over who was doing it right. And it’s still going on today among His disciples — “my church is better than your church.”
We may not be so bold as to give glory to ourselves, but how many times do we give credit to the boat we’re in because of some favor upon which it’s afloat? When the fish are coming in, remember, Jesus had already determined which ones would fall into that net. And when that favor comes, what is your reaction? Humility or the pride that asks which one among us is the greatest?
The Holy Spirit laid a lesson on me as I read this account about “fishers of men.” Am I amazed at the feet of Jesus recognizing my sin that I might point others to the only one great enough to bare them or am I so busy pointing everyone to the fish I’ve caught or my great net that no one else can see the real power behind such favor?
In giving a witness, it’s not the net full of fish that we’re to lift up, no one sees their sin and separation there. We’re to lift up Jesus and let men see their separation at His cross.
When Simon Peter recognized who filled his net, his shame and separation moved him to say, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” But the purpose in getting us to recognize our separateness is not to widen the gap, God’s promise is to draw us closer to Him and prepare us to receive His blessings, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.” He will draw men to Himself through the nets we cast upon the waters, but don’t spend too much time looking at the net. He’s the one directing us where to fish and teaching us how to receive the blessing, so keep your eyes on Him.
Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie