LUKE 5:9-11: “For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.” (NKJV)
OBSERVATION: What are we fishing for? Luke’s record of Jesus’ encounter with Peter gives us some unique insight into the calling of Simon Peter. In the other Gospel accounts we read the familiar verses where Jesus says to Simon – “Come follow me, and I will make you a fisher of men.” Yet, in Luke’s Gospel we get the “rest of the story” leading up to this call. It speaks to both Peter’s call and ours!
Jesus was teaching a large crowd by the Lake of Gennesaret. The crowd was growing larger and harder to handle, so Jesus asked a nearby fisherman who had returned from his day of fishing, to cast out from the shore so that He could continue teaching without being overpowered by the crowd. That fisherman was Simon (Peter). When Jesus was done teaching He told Simon to cast out his net for a catch. Simon and his crew had been fishing all night with no success, and it was not the time of day to catch fish. Yet, when Simon obeyed, they caught so many fish that the nets began to break. He called to his associates, James and John, in another boat, and they came to help.
Simon, James, and John were overwhelmed with what just happened. They were instantly aware of their own unworthiness, and wondered at what just took place. Then Jesus spoke to Simon – “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” What could that mean? They had just landed the largest catch that they had ever experienced in one casting. And now, Jesus was calling them to follow Him and leave it all behind. To do what? To catch men? Their response has always challenged me whenever I have read it. “…And they forsook all and followed Him.”
This question races to my heart once again – “What am I fishing for?” Am I fishing for the blessings that the Christian life can offer, or am I hanging up my net on the Cross of Christ to follow Him – no matter what? Am I fishing in a trout pond, or am I casting out into unknown waters to become a true fisher of men? When I look over my life I am faced with the stark reality that much of my life represents Peter in the boat, not Peter on the shore. Peter in the boat loved to be in the presence of Jesus, and to haul in the bountiful catch that He provided. Peter on the shore began a journey of faith and sacrifice, to reach men and women with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and all this without a map, without a compass, and with absolute surrender.
Today, I think most churches are sitting in the boat. We have launched our boats out into a trout pond and we are competing for the controlled pond of fish – that have already been caught. We compete to find out – Who can gather up the most fish in their net? We spend all of our money, time, and energy on designing more attractive nets. Perhaps the fish in the pond will see our net and come on over. And we sit comfortably in our boats and learn how to criticize those in boats that do not look like ours, or use the same type of net that we do.
All the while, lost fish swim to their demise in the great ocean, while we paddle our boats in the trout pond.
If we are ever going to fulfill our calling as Christians, and as His Church, WE NEED TO GET OUT OF THE BOAT!
We must once again become true fishers of men. We must prepare the net of the Gospel through intercessory prayer. We must be broken for the lost and desperately desire to see them saved. We must forgo our own personal comforts and cast off into the unknown, armed only with the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. We must let go of our insecurities and useless comparisons. We must “…forsake all and follow Him!”
Lord, this morning I want to get out of the boat and follow You! I do not fully know what that means, but I want to be willing to pay the price. I want my heart to be free from useless comparisons and criticisms. I want my heart to be broken with the things that break Your heart. I want to be empowered by Your Word and Your Spirit. I want to be a fisher of men!
In Jesus Name!