Chapter 5:1-11 (ESV) - On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
Question to consider: Why do you think Luke adds this story to his account of Jesus?
The gospels of Matthew and Mark don’t spend much time on the gathering of disciples. Both seem to be more interested in digging right into His ministry. So in short order they both list the events as: Jesus called His disciples, Jesus demonstrated the power of rebuking demons, Jesus demonstrated the power of rebuking disease, and His ministry had begun.
Maybe Luke spent some time interviewing Peter in more detail about how he came to know Jesus, or maybe Luke heard Peter telling his tale and Theophilus had asked him how it was that Peter could just drop everything and follow at Jesus’ command. However Luke got on the subject, I would consider his to be the well-ordered account that provided a more precise timeline.
As I mentioned yesterday, according to the gospel of John, Simon Peter first encountered Jesus because of his brother Andrew, but unlike Andrew, Simon Peter didn’t immediately become His disciple. The second time he encountered Jesus was probably in the synagogue at Capernaum when Jesus cast out the demon. Jesus was then invited back to Simon’s house in order to heal his mother-in-law.
At the beginning of today’s passage, Peter was still devoted to his fishing business. He certainly wasn’t doing anything wrong by continuing on as a fisherman. After all, he was responsible for a family unlike his younger brother, Andrew. He’d been fishing with James and John all night, and they had just put away their boats and were washing the nets. Simon did not have a problem taking Jesus out on the boat to give Him space to preach. After all, he could listen to Jesus while he folded up his nets, and Jesus could use the acoustics along the shore to be heard better by the crowd that had gathered.
At the end of His sermon, Jesus told Simon to push the boat back out into the deep water and recast his nets. You can almost hear the frustration in Simon Peter’s words as he stressed that they had done just that all night with no success. Although it might have made a good illustration for Jesus’ sermon on fishing for men, Peter was confident it wouldn’t produce anything, and he’d get stuck having to clean his nets all over again. Did he mention that he’d just been up all night fishing?
But he went ahead and cast the net at Jesus’ word, for Jesus had just healed his mother-in-law. Then it happened. So many fish were jumping into his net that he needed help from Zebedee and his sons to wrangle it all in. It was at this moment that Simon knew Jesus was indeed the Son of God. Throughout scripture, when people came face-to-face with the living God, they fell on their knees in terror, for deep down they knew they were worthy of God’s wrath. In these encounters, people were blessed by being told not to fear. One day, this will not be the case.
It was at that point Jesus said He would make them a fisher of men, and like Matthew and Mark said, they left everything behind and followed Jesus.
Dear Lord, we ask that You teach us to fear You instead of the world and to seek after the things that please You instead of striving after things that are perishing. Thank You for Your long suffering patience and tender mercy. Amen.