Intro: In January 2012, I enjoyed a trip to Israel with forty-one seminarian friends. One of my favorite places to visit on the trip was the region of Galilee. We hopped on a boat and went out onto Lake Gennesaret [Sea of Galilee; aka Sea of Tiberias]; a freshwater lake, over 690 feet below sea level. This lake serves as the main source of water and commerce for the Galilee region. We watched as fishermen threw their cast nets out while one of our professors recounted the stories of Jesus with the Galilean fishermen. We were there…no guessing what it was like…with those around me…I was a disciple living the truth. I remember the cloudy sky, the green mountainous terrain around the lake, the smell of approaching rain, and the gentle breeze. We ate fresh fish [fried whole St. Peter’s fish—tilapia] caught from the lake at a restaurant [St. Peter’s Restaurant] along the shore as we continued to listen to the Word of God. That trip was full of revelations for me; I have never been the same.
In our passage today, Jesus notices the fishermen are washing, drying, and mending their nets. They have just come in from an unsuccessful night of fishing. Jesus tells the disciples to head out in the daytime to do some fishing with him. For Peter, this must have made zero sense since the fish tend to go into deeper water during the daytime where the nets cannot reach them. But, therein, Peter was about to witness a miracle. Beyond a person’s ability and natural resources, beyond what makes sense to the natural mind, beyond what one may think about proper timing…rests the grace of God. So, Peter chooses to obey the Word of the Lord and that obedience opens the door to a miracle. Peter realizes the presence of God with him; he knows Christ’s divine power has caused this haul of fish. Peter will never be the same.
As disciples moving forward with Christ, we must always keep in mind his ways are wiser, because he sees the will of the Father from a heavenly perspective. Therefore, like Peter, by faith we might need to move a bit beyond our analytical interpretations of the opportunities before us as we are led by the Spirit. If Jesus calls us to share in his righteous acts for salvation, then we must act quickly in the anointing—influence and power of the Holy Spirit. We know the difference between righteous and unrighteous connections (John 15:5). We know the Voice of our Master (John 10:4). We know when we have the shalom [peace] of God and a desire to obey (John 15:27). Jesus wants to work in the lives of his disciples; he wants to teach us about trusting in his power to bring the abundant resources we need and the victory we truly desire over our flesh of unbelief. Discipleship is about living with a humble and obedient attitude as we trust in God.
Luke 5:1-11 (NLT) The First Disciples
1 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. 2 He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. 3 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.
4 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.”
5 “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.” 6 And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! 7 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.
8 When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” 9 For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. 10 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!” 11 And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the abundance of mercy and forgiveness you always bring my life. Thank you for the revelations and the experiences that teach me to trust you in a deeper way, because every moment from the past has the potential to strengthen my faith for future opportunities. In Jesus’ name. Amen.