Luke 5:1-11: Fishers of Men

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water's edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He 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.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch."

Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So 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.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners.

Then 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 5:1-11, NIV

God created the world along with its consistent nature. A miracle violates the consistent order of nature. Thus, when God performed a miracle, He must have had some purpose in mind. We can see this miracle as showing Jesus' authority over nature. That is a part of it, but what did this miracle mean to the fishermen in the boat? As any other person, Simon was proud of his ability to do his job (Luke 5:5). Jesus was a carpenter. For Jesus to tell Simon how to fish was like a carpenter telling an electrician how to do his job. Yes, this miracle did tell Simon that Jesus was not just an ordinary man, but Simon also made the catch that was beyond his wildest dreams (Luke 5:6-7). From the standpoint of Simon's carrier, he was over-satiated (Luke 5:8-9). He could never do any better. Thus, when Jesus called them to a new career of fishing for people, they left everything to follow him (Luke 5:10-11).

After Jesus' ministry was over on earth, Peter and the other fishermen went back to fishing (John 21:2-3). Again they caught nothing until Jesus told them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat (John 21:4-6). John said, "It is the Lord." Peter jumped in the water and swam to shore (John 21:7-14) rather than waiting on the boats. Jesus then reinstated Peter to ministry (John 21:15-17) by asking the question, "Do you love Me?" three times. In the Hebrew/Aramaic, which Jesus spoke, repetition had a particular meaning. A person said something twice for the comparative, more than someone or something and three times for the superlative, most of all, anyone, or anything. Each time Jesus responded to Peter's reply with, "Feed My sheep." Not a question you would expect a carpenter to ask a fisherman, but one from the Good Shepherd to His disciple. Afterwards, Peter stayed faithful to the ministry Jesus gave him.

At seminary I asked the question to God and myself, "How does a layman live the life of a dedicated Christian?" A funny question to ask when all I had to do is look at my parents and the dedicated Christians that I knew growing up, but pride in education can sometimes get the best of you. Now I realize that a pastor has to struggle with the same pride of making a living as any layman. For a pastor it can be even more difficult. A layman can easily separate between his work and serving God, while a pastor can rationalize that what he is doing is for the Lord. Even as unrealistic as that pride was, I knew what it was like to sit in a pew and think that I could do better with that sermon. I had to learn to hear God speak through servants who are dedicated to preaching the Word of God. The pride of making a living has trapped many pastors. It is easy for a pastor to get caught up in external factors such as building bigger buildings or higher attendance. I have heard gospel presentations so watered down with worldly concepts that I wondered if they were even Christian. They would have done just fine in a public school that didn't allow people to present the gospel. God wants changed lives and hearts dedicated to Him rather than big buildings or physical attendance with minds somewhere else. The external is only as good as it reflects the internal.