"Time to Fish."
February 11, 2022, 11:00 AM

“Time to Fish”

Luke 5:1-11

The reading from Luke 5:1-11 tells us the story of how Jesus called the first disciples, Simon-Peter, Andrew (although not mentioned we know he was there because the other gospels tell us he was), and the brothers James and John. All four of these men were fishermen by trade. This was not a hobby for them. Fishing the Sea of Galilee (also called the Sea of Gennesaret) provided economic stability. Fish was a staple of the diet in the area, and it still is. Simon-Peter and Andrew owned their own business while James and John worked with them. Luke tells us that they were partners (5:7). The best fishing was done at night. After working all night and catching nothing, the men had their nets on the shoreline mending them, cleaning them, and getting ready to dry the nets so they could be used again that night.

Simon-Peter, Andrew, James, and John were probably exhausted after the long night of fishing. When Jesus appeared along the beach with the crowd behind Him, I can’t help but think that they all hoped the crowd would keep going. Simon-Peter already knew Jesus. It is likely that Andrew knew Jesus as well. Luke tells us in chapter 4 that Jesus was in Simon-Peter’s house and healed Simon-Peter’s mother-in-law. This connection helps us understand why Simon-Peter let Jesus use his boat as a floating pulpit while He preached to the crowd. When Jesus had finished His preaching, He instructed Simon-Peter to go out into the deep and let his nets down again.

Simon-Peter’s reaction is interesting. Even though he is tired, and they caught nothing the night before, he listened to Jesus’ instructions and even refers to Jesus as Master. This is a term of respect that shows Simon-Peter viewed Jesus as an authority over him. When the fishermen followed Jesus’ instructions, a massive number of fish were caught. The haul was so large that not only did the nets begin to tear, but when they hauled the nets into both boats, they began to sink. These were not small boats either. They were around 30 feet long and 8 feet wide.

This catch of fish wasn’t about the fish though. It was about much more. First, it revealed more about who Jesus is. Only God has this type of control over the fish of the sea! Jesus is more than a healer, more than a good preacher, and more than a miracle worker. In Jesus, God is at work. This was Simon-Peter’s revelation as well. His reaction to the miracle shows us what he thought of Jesus. “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” He would not have confessed his sin to a regular teacher. He would not have knelt in a pile of fish in front of a good teacher, or a good preacher. Simon-Peter realized that the divine presence was at work in Jesus. Here, standing in front of them, was one who controlled the fish of the sea – only God could do that. We know that Jesus is God-in-flesh. This, however, was the beginning of that realization for Simon-Peter and the other three men.

Second, this miracle symbolized the future ministry of the disciples and revealed Jesus’ plans for the disciples. People would come to faith in Jesus through the preaching of His Word. This is as true today and it was then. Simon-Peter, Andrew, James, and John were going to spend the rest of their lives in service to Jesus and would preach countless sermons and witness to countless people in their lifetimes. Jesus told Simon-Peter, and the other men too, that they were going to be “fishers of people.” They weren’t going to be trapping people in nets. These men were going to be bringing people into the kingdom of God through telling others the good news of Jesus Christ. These men were going to spend the rest of their lives inviting people into relationship with Jesus.

This call to be fishers of people is not something that was only for Jesus’ first disciples. Jesus used this imagery to help Simon-Peter, Andrew, James, and John understand what it meant to follow Jesus. This was an image used by Jesus to help us understand what it means to be a disciple. Essentially being a disciple means being a learner, or student. To be a disciple of Jesus doesn’t just mean learning His teaching or learning facts about Jesus. To be a disciple of Jesus means that we hear His teaching, we are changed by His teaching, and we put His teaching into practice. It means that we listen to His instructions and obey His commands.

We may not have had a call experience like Simon-Peter, Andrew, James, and John, but all of us who call Jesus Lord are called by Him to follow Him and to seek out others to bring them into the kingdom of God and into relationship with Jesus Christ. To call Jesus Lord is to recognize that not only have we been saved, but that we have also been commissioned into service. We are called to serve the Lord in various ways, but each of us is called to be a proclaimer of the good news of Jesus Christ.

How are you working to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to others? Are you praying for missionaries and local congregations? If you are not physically able to participate in a ministry, are you praying for those who are? Are you in a financial position to support your local congregation and other mission associations? What resources and talents has God given you to further spread the good news of Jesus Christ? Take some time to reflect on these questions and spend time in prayer asking God for wisdom and guidance so you can see more clearly how God has called you into His service.