In Luke 5 we find the story of Jesus calling His first disciples. Simon, Andrew, James, and John have been fishing at Lake Gennesaret all night long, working their craft as professional fisherman. Simon (Peter) would’ve been on the BassMasters Elite Tour (which I watch every weekend). These fishermen spent all night on the water with nothing to show for it. When they come ashore to clean the boat and wash the nets, Jesus shows up to teach from Simon’s boat, but He then asks him to go back out and put the nets in the water.
“Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” —Luke 5:5
I like this answer. He doesn’t complain after the unsuccessful night of fishing, he simply listens to Jesus and goes out again. Personally, I’m not sure if I would have reacted that way.
I’m sure that Simon had fished in all the spots he knew where to fish on his own, but Jesus took him to the spot where He knew the fish would be. The result yielded so many fish that it began to break their nets and they need the help of another boat to put all the fish in.
“They caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.” —Luke 5:6
After this great catch that leaves all four of the guys awestruck, Simon tells Jesus to leave him, that he’s too much of a sinner to be around Jesus. Jesus says to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people.” (vs. 10, NIV)
What a great passage—There’s so much to learn from! Here are a few important things we can take away from observing the attitudes and reactions of the disciples as Jesus first called them:
- Gaining the willingness to do what Jesus says
- Knowing that Jesus is in control and knows where to direct us
- Letting Jesus take us where we need to go, even to a place where we have never been before
- Seeing the results (and allowing ourselves to be awestruck)
- Continuing to follow Him
Simon works all night in his own strength, doing everything he knows how to do in order to catch fish. He gets no results. He then allows Jesus to direct him and the results cause the nets to overflow so much so that the boats almost sink from the great haul. They can’t contain all the fish they’re suddenly capable of catching. Think about the parallel miracle that is possible as Jesus tells them that now they will be catching people.
I think Jesus is telling Simon, as well as the rest of us, that when He calls us to start following Him, we cannot “catch” others on our own effort. In fact, we cannot catch a single person. We have to take the attitude of Simon and allow Jesus to send us out, directing us to go where we need to go. The result of Jesus doing His work in us is the amazing power He brings to the effort of winning people to Him, just like He did with catching the fish. Jesus is the ultimate fish finder; just follow Him.
“So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed Him.” —Luke 5:11
—Eddie Taubensee, PAO’s Director of Baseball Ministry
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