In our daily devotionals over the next few weeks, our focus is on the miraculous acts of Jesus in the Gospel accounts. Due to being a commercial fisherman with my father in my younger days, there’s one story of Christ’s power that I particularly enjoy.
3He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." 5Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets" (Luke 5:3-5).
Imagine what it was like for Peter. He had been fishing all night (v. 5), and now after cleaning their nets of all weed, he was exhausted and wanted to go home. I suspect, also, that he was discouraged and disappointed with catching nothing, and that they were cleaning their nets because they were looking forward to a time of rest from fishing.
When a fisherman comes back to port, it is a disappointment to have caught no fish and admit to having failed at his work, and this was precisely the situation with Peter. The last thing he wanted was to have Jesus get into his boat and talk to people from it. I am sure he was tired after fishing all night, but since Jesus had healed his mother-in-law the day before (Luke 4:38-40), he had no option but for Jesus to use his boat to teach the people. Peter responded graciously and obediently. He got into the boat with Jesus and pushed out from the shore, and began to listen to Jesus teach. They were about to witness a miracle. While living in Israel for a year and a half, I got the opportunity to go out with the local Galilee fishermen from Tiberius, and I asked them why they fished during the night. They replied that during the day it was impossible to catch anything due to the fish being able to see and avoid the nets in the clear water. In the darkness of the night the fish could be caught easier.
The Lord told Peter to go further out into the deep water and catch some fish (v. 4). The Sea of Galilee measures a depth of 200 feet. There’s no way, Peter probably thought, that his nets would go anywhere near down to those depths, and during the hot part of the day, that would be where the fish would be keeping cool. Jesus was a builder/carpenter, what did He know about where the fish were and how to catch them? Peter was the expert when it came to fishing, and he was not expecting to find fish. What would this carpenter-come-rabbi, know about fishing, he probably thought? Because Jesus had said so, though, he stepped out in obedience.
6When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. 8When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" 9For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners. 11Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him (Luke 5:6-11).
God has a way of getting our attention. With Moses it was a burning bush (Exodus 3:3-5), with Peter, it was a tremendous amount of fish. Just when he began to think they had overfished the Sea of Galilee and that now nothing could be caught at the best time of the night, Peter witnesses an amazing, impossible event that showed him the reality that Jesus really can do miracles.
There was a progression of things Peter witnessed. It was in the synagogue Peter attended that the demon was cast out (Luke 4:33). Then his mother-in-law was healed in front of his eyes. On top of that, there was a full evening of amazing healings and deliverances where Jesus healed every one that came to Him from sicknesses and demons (Luke 4:40-41).
The Lord was catching more than fish that day. He wanted to catch men. He caught Peter through a progression of events. First, He asked if He could sit in their boat and talk to the people. Next, He asked Peter to put out a little from shore. Finally, Christ asked them to row out into the deep water and let down the nets for a catch (v. 4). Christ involved them in a miracle. He didn't have to catch fish. He had much bigger things on His mind. I think He has you on His mind, too.
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