Luke 5:1-11 The Catch of a Lifetime
We join Jesus on the shore today as He is being thronged by a crowd. Luke says they were there to hear the word of God. I wonder if many of them had healing on their minds too. We ate going to the Lake of Gennesaret.
I was curious where this lake was located so I Googled it and found out that it is another name for the Sea of Galilee. I was a little worried before doing this because I didn’t think Peter, Andrew, James and John went to other lakes to fish. I thought it might be a tributary lake instead. I’m glad to know the two bodies of water are one in the same.
At this point in His ministry Jesus is doing it all solo. He may have some very devoted followers but He has not called any disciples yet. That will change by the end of this day. For His own safety and to be heard by the majority of the people, Jesus needed a better location to teach from.
I believe Jesus was acquainted with Peter and his group before stepping into his boat. It would have been very presumptuous of Him to step into an empty boat of a perfect stranger. I don’t know if they were washing their nets right by the boats or a little bit further down shore, but they could apparently see the boats from where they were at. When Peter sees Jesus in his boat he comes back over to it. Jesus asks Peter to put out to sea a little way. I imagine Peter is tired from a long day of fishing and just wants to get things cleaned up and put away so he can go home. Their earlier efforts had netted them nothing. Maybe Peter welcomed the break. He had a legitimate excuse to leave the clean up to the other men. Whatever Peter’s rational was, he did as Jesus asked.
Jesus was not known to be brief in His teachings. I wonder how long they were out there, just the two of them. Did Peter drink in every word Jesus was sharing or did he doze off at times? After Jesus was done teaching He wasn’t done with Peter. Did the crowds dissipate at this point or did the crowd get to see the upcoming miracle? I don’t imagine many in the crowd were enraptured by watching Peter and Jesus move into deeper waters, so they probably went on home.
When Jesus told Peter what He wanted him to do, Peter balked at it. “Jesus, You don’t understand. We have been fishing ALL night and there is nothing out there.” He could have stopped there and missed the miracle, but he didn’t. Instead he did exactly as Jesus had instructed him to do, even though he had NO expectation of any kind of success. “Only because You asked me to, I’ll do it.”
Peter must have been familiar with Jesus and His miracles to listen to Him and obey His instructions. If anyone else had asked him to do this he probably would have laughed in their face; but not Jesus. Did Peter do it with a “I’ll show Him” attitude, a “this will shut Him up” attitude, or did he act with expectancy? Jesus’ miracle didn’t require a right attitude as Peter put out to see, just obedience. And Peter gave Him that.
I can just imagine the open mouthed look on Peter’s face as his net FILLS with fish. Did he start leaping around in excitement? How quickly did the other boat move to help Peter and the catch? Was Peter hanging onto the net with all his might as he waited? Did he trust Jesus to bring in the full catch, since He was the one who brought it in the first place?
Both boats arrive and instead of dragging the net back to shore, they begin to empty it into the boats. The nets were preserved this way but now the boats were so loaded with fish that they were having a hard time staying afloat.
Peter recognizes this catch for what it really was; a miracle straight from God. They had been fishing ALL night and caught nothing. One net drop with Jesus and they have the catch of a lifetime. Never had he received such an amazing amount of fish in one throw. Peter recognized the miracle and responded immediately to it with the truth. His truth anyway. He knew rightly that he was a sinful man. He knew he had done nothing worthy of the gift Jesus had just bestowed on him. He recognized Jesus as an emissary from God in the very least and knew he was not deserving of being in Jesus presence.
I believe this was just the attitude Jesus was looking for in Peter. If Peter had taken any credit for the catch I think Jesus would have walked away without him. I also think that if Peter hadn’t made his confession Jesus might have walked away too. But Peter was ‘ripe’ and Jesus eagerly ‘picked’ him to bear even greater fruit.
Peter and his whole company left that amazing catch on the sea shore that day and walked on with Jesus into a new life. Their financial future would have been assured if they had stayed and processed that harvest. I believe James and John’s father, Zebedee, took care of it for them and maybe even put the money away for the men to use later.
A couple of things struck me while reading and writing about this story. The first thing that got me thinking was that Peter had to be willing to put out to deeper water before Jesus manifested the blessing He had in store for him. Jesus could have just as easily caused all the fish to come to the shallow water where the boat was originally sitting. But Jesus required an act of obedience out of Peter first. Peter had to step out in faith. He had no idea where this was going to end but he willingly took the first step anyway.
God calls us to do step out in faith too. The first and most significant time we did that was when we accepted Him as our Lord and Savior. We did it because we heard Him tell us to but we had no idea what awaited once we took that step. We went into the deep water with Him.
The second thing I noticed was how the men left their entire natural future lying there on the sea shore. This was all they had known, probably from their youth. Yet when the biggest haul of their lives drops in their lap they turn their backs on it. They recognized the value of their two choices that Jesus had just presented them with. They could stay and possibly get rich from the fish they just brought in or they could walk after Jesus, wherever He went. Their choice needed to be made immediately because Jesus wasn’t waiting around for them to put their catch to bed first. It was now or never for them that day. We know they chose rightly. They went with the Source rather than the result. Did they even stop to consider what they might be getting into? If they did, I have a feeling the reality FAR exceeded their expectations.
God calls for us to make choices like this sometimes too. An example would be when God brings a person across your path and speaks into your heart to help them. You have a few choices at that point. You can 1) listen and immediately obey, 2) ask for confirmation and wait for it, or 3) pull back and say no. We all know which one Peter and the gang took and which one we should take. But I often find myself exercising option number two. I have no idea how many miracles I missed out on over the years because of MY hesitance. Thank You God that Peter and the boys made the right choice. No telling what the difference would have been had they not.
Thank You Father that You use us imperfect humans in Your eternal plans. Just the simple act of saying “yes” made all the difference in Peter’s life. Was he sitting on the fence until that day? He couldn’t deny the reality of the miracle. Thank You that we don’t have to clean up before being invited in either. Peter knew his heart’s condition and spoke it truthfully. You didn’t tell him to come find You after he got his life in order. You took him just as he was, warts and all. This was the beginning of his amazing transformation. Thank You for transforming me too. I still have a LONG way to go and I’m sure I’ll never have the impact Peter did on the world, but I’m happy to simply sit back and see where You lead me. Thank You for the invitation to walk with You, wherever it takes us. I know the final destination, so everything else in between is just an adventure with You as my guide. Lead on Lord.