“Nothing makes a fish bigger than almost being caught,” quipped one fisherman.
Fishermen are known for their tall tales. Their exaggeration about the size of their catch. And, of course, the big one that got away.
However, can you imagine, Peter telling the story about the day Jesus went fishing with him, James and John? It may well have been the basis of a sermon years later.
Take a moment to read the text (Luke 5:1-11), and briefly consider 5 powerful lessons.
#1 When a boat becomes a pulpit.
A huge crowd was pressing in on Jesus as he taught the Word of God by the Sea of Galilee. So, He got into the boat “sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.”
The analogy wasn’t lost on J. Vernon McGee who once observed, “Every pulpit is a fishing boat, a place to give out the Word of God and attempt to catch fish.”
It also reminds us that we don’t need a formal pulpit in a church building to share God’s Word. It may be around the kitchen table. Or around a campfire. Or traveling in a car. Or flying in an airplane. Or eating in a restaurant. Make your pulpit where ever people are hungry to hear God’s Word.
#2 Listen to Jesus when He says, “Launch out.”
Peter and co-workers had been fishing all night and caught nothing. However, Jesus said, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
Although in the beginning stages of their ministry, Peter recognized something about the authority of Jesus when he replied, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”
What a great lesson for us. Too often, we think we know more than Jesus does. We don’t see the sense in His commands. To follow them appears pointless. We may wonder, “Will it work?” We think, “I’ve tried and failed, why try again?” Sometimes, we may just flat disagree with what God says. I’ve heard people say, “I know the Bible says _________, but I feel _______________.
When such thoughts tempt our thinking, remember Peter’s response. “At Your Word, I will.”
#3 Blessed by Obeying Jesus
Launching out into the deep not only seemed pointless, but according to those who know fishing, it was the wrong location and the wrong time of day. Yet, the catch was “so great their nets were breaking.” In fact, they signaled a second boat to help them. They filled both boats. And the weight was so great that both boats began to sink.
Never forget that when we listen to the Lord, obey God’s Word, and by faith launch out into the deep, we are blessed beyond measure. The lyrics from R. J. Stevens’ hymn reminds us, “The Lord has been mindful of me. He blesses and blesses again.”
We enjoy “all spiritual blessings in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Think of freedom from the bondage of sin. Peace of mind. Purpose in life. The riches of His grace. The magnitude of His mercy. The fellowship of a spiritual family. Access to the throne of the Father. Not to mention the physical and material blessings we enjoy that make life more comfortable.
#4 Seeing our own Sinfulness.
The wonder of this miraculous catch caused Peter to fall down at Jesus’ feet and exclaim, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
I doubt Peter was literally telling Jesus to leave. Rather, it was a realization of being in the presence of Deity. Of his inadequacy. His flawed humanity. And a humble admission of his sinfulness compared to Jesus’ holiness.
We, too, should emulate this example. Being in a relationship with Jesus ought not to make us feel we’re better than others, fill us with pride, or self righteousness. Rather, it should humble us. Expose our short-comings. And magnify our need of Him.
#5 Becoming Fishers of Men
As the fishermen left their trade to follow Jesus, He used this marvelous miracle as a metaphor to say, “From now on you will catch men.” Their patience, persistence and perseverance in fishing for a living would prove to be useful qualities in evangelizing the world.
While a larger lesson for another time, regardless of our profession, occupation, or trade, we ought to be “fishing for men.” Listening to Jesus. Launching out into the deep. Lowering our nets. Sharing the gospel.
Will we, like Peter, respond to Jesus, “At Your Word, I will…” ?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
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