The Miraculous Catch of Fish

In our daily devotionals over the next few weeks, our focus is on the miraculous acts of Jesus in the Gospel accounts. Due to my earlier years as a commercial fisherman with my father, 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. When a fisherman comes back to port, it is a disappointment to catch 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, and because I was a fisherman in my younger years, 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 it was impossible to catch anything during the day due to the fish being able to see the nets and avoid them in the clear water. In the darkness of the night, the fish could be caught easier.

The Lord told Peter to go further away from the shore 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? When it came to fishing, Peter was the expert and was not expecting to find fish during the day. What would this carpenter-come-rabbi know about fishing, he probably thought? Because Jesus had asked, 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. For Moses, it was a burning bush experience (Exodus 3:3-5); with Peter, it was a tremendous amount of fish at an impossible time of day. Peter witnessed a progression of things that convinced him of Jesus being the Messiah. In the synagogue Peter attended, 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 an entire evening of remarkable healings and deliverances where Jesus healed every person that came to Him from sicknesses and demons (Luke 4:40-41).

The Lord was catching more than fish that day; it was men He was after. Christ involved Peter 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. Keith Thomas

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Taken from the study in the Gospel of Luke, study 8, Jesus Goes Fishing, found in the All Studies box on the Home Page.