One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on Him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So He sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there. When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”
“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if You say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking. When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m too much of a sinner to be around You.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed. Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.Luke 5:1-11
Well there is much to comment on in this story. I will make some general comments now and then leave you a day to look at it for yourself and see what you can come up with. Then I would suggest that you compare this story with the story in John’s Gospel 21:1-11. For those of you who have following Gems since the beginning you will remember I suggested you compare John’s account of fishing John 21:1-11) with Luke’s account of fishing (Luke 5:1-11). For those of you new to Gems you can work on it for the first time. I notice when I looked at the Gems I wrote for these two stories back in 2010 that I would give you input on the comparison a few days later. But I forgot to fulfil my promise to you. Well a little over two years later I will fulfil my promise and we will discuss the differences between the two stories but in the meantime let’s look at the specifics of Luke’s story. These are not parallel stories in one sense in that they are not talking about the same event. They are referring to similar events set apart in time. The one at the beginning of Jesus ministry and the other at the end. The details of the stories are very different but helpful for us to compare and contrast them to get a better idea of trusting Jesus and how He works.
Notice that Jesus only wanted to use the one boat to preach from, He doesn’t appear to have been interested in fishing at the beginning. The crowd were pressing in on Him, so He got into the boat that was available in order to speak to them and so they wouldn’t crowd Him against the sea shore. He sat in the boat and taught the crowd from there. When He had finished he told Simon to go out deeper and let down the nets again. They had just come back from fishing all night and got nothing. The sense of the story is that while they went out deeper it wasn’t deep deep. Normally they would go to their favourite spots on the lake to catch fish. These are men who had finished before and knew where and when the fish were biting or where the shoals of fish were. Here is a rabbi or a carpenter’s son telling an experienced fisherman where to fish. I doubt that Jesus had been fishing in His life before. He tells an experienced fisherman who is tired from fishing all night to go out again. To ready the nets they have just been cleaning and go out again. Not only to go out again but to not go all the way out, just out into the deep water close to shore. “Don’t you know anything about fishing Jesus.” No He is only the One who created fish and knows all about them.
I think it is hugely funny in John’s story when Jesus tells them to cast the net on the other side of the boat. They have been fishing on the left side of the boat it seems and casting their nets out there but Jesus tells them to try the right side. I imagine the fishermen saying to one another: Come on who is this guy! Doesn’t He know, right side, left side makes no difference under the boat. It is all the same. It’s joined down there Jesus. But the wonder of it is that these men have learned quickly to take note of what he says. Like Mary says at the wedding in Cana, “Whatever He says to you do it”. In the John story the guys know that the One who commands the waves of sea in a storm is likely to have influence over fish too. But at the time of the Luke story they are still learning Who this One is. But still Simon Peter can say “But if You say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” He is learning to trust what Jesus says even though it means another cleaning of the nets which have just been cleaned. Do you trust what Jesus says?
This was a two-boatload-haul of fish which amazes them. They threw down the nets and they needed to call the other boat to come and help bring in the fish. On a lake that had nothing around just a short time before. Peter is awestruck by what has happened. Oh I am sure he has seen huge catches of fish before but it seems nothing like this one, at the end of a long fruitless night. They have two boats brimming over with fish. One would think more than the 153 caught after the resurrection. What happened was enough to fill Peter with awe and wonder and amaze James and John. It seems it was spectacular, from nothing.
Now at the end of the expedition, notice how Jesus connects the two activities. Boats are for fishing and preaching. But Jesus links the two activities. “You will fish for people.” I want you to be fishermen but no longer for fish; rather people. You will need to read what I wrote in the Gems on John’s story (119 to 125) to see the two targets are connected – fish and people. This experience was so significant to these three men that they left EVERYTHING and followed Him. Go fish for people guys, leave fishing for fish and start fishing for people. These three men had seen enough to respond, “Ok, we’re with you.”
See you back at the seashore again in the morning when we will go fishing for differences.
Be ye fishers of men: You catch ’em, I’ll clean ’em.Jesus
The gospel is only good news if we are willing to share it, and get it to those who need it in time.Bob Gass
The best translation is when you translate the Word of God into your daily life. You ought to be a living Bible.Rick Warren
Do you realize the hardest time to trust Jesus is when you “know” best?Ian Vail