“On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.” – Luke 5:1-11
Last week we began to examine the above text to see exactly how Jesus calls people to come and follow Him and be “fishers” of men. This text reveals three stages through which a person must pass if he is to become one of Jesus’ followers — one of His fishermen. First, a man must hear Jesus’ voice. He must hear the call of God. In order to hear God’s voice, one must pick up the Word of God and ask God to speak to Him. Have you ever heard the Lord speak to you? Are you spending time in His Word every day? The key to hearing God is found in the Bible. The Bible is the main tool God has provided to enable us to hear His voice. Today, we are going to consider the next stage through which a man must pass to become one of God’s fishermen—one of Jesus’ followers.
In order to be a fisher of men, you must not only hear His voice but also trust Him when He speaks! When Jesus had finished speaking, He looked at Peter and said, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon (Peter) answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” Notice that Jesus does not offer Peter a suggestion but rather commands him, “Let down your nets.” Moreover, He did not order the disciples to let down their nets simply to try and catch fish. No! He ordered them to put out their nets for a catch of fish. In other words, Jesus was giving Peter both a command and a promise. What was the promise? He was going to catch fish.
Imagine what Peter must have thought. He was the fisherman, and Jesus was merely a carpenter. He thought he knew a lot more about fishing than any carpenter. They had already fished all night, and nobody caught anything. Plus, they had already washed the nets. The last thing Peter wanted to do at that moment was to go back out and fish when he knew there were no fish. But he did. There was something about the voice of Jesus. It was a voice of authority that Peter sensed he could trust. Therefore, he did exactly what Jesus asked. He put out into the deep and let down the nets.
Immediately the nets began to fill with fish. Peter couldn’t believe what he was witnessing. The nets became so full that he was unable to retrieve them. Hence, he called his partners, James and John, who also came to help. They pulled the nets into their boats, and their boats became so full of fish that they began to sink. It was the catch of a lifetime! They must have looked at one another with a look that said: “Did that really just happen?”
Every miracle has a purpose and this one was no exception. Jesus was fishing for men. Peter was the leader of this group of men, and Jesus had His eye on him. Peter had listened to Jesus ever since Andrew announced they had found the Messiah. In other words, Peter had been checking Jesus out. Have you checked Jesus out? Peter began to believe and now his faith was rewarded with sight. That is how faith works. Faith precedes understanding, and understanding is the reward of faith. Anselm, the Archbishop of Canterbury, once said, “I do not seek to understand so that I might believe. But I believe so that I might understand.” When a man begins to trust God, God rewards his faith with sight.
With this miracle, Peter began to see both who Jesus was and who he, himself, was. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:15-16, “Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” When the veil is removed, a man begins to see. Has the veil been removed from your spiritual eyes? If not, perhaps it is because you have not turned to Jesus in faith. Peter turned to the Lord by faith and as the veil was removed from Peter’s spiritual eyes, he saw how great Jesus is, both in power and holiness. When a man sees the holiness of God, he also begins to understand how sinful he is. That’s what happened to Peter. He saw how sinful he really was and felt like a complete failure. Thus, he fell to his knees and cried out, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
Do you know what the Lord wants to see in each of us?—a broken and contrite heart. Psalm 51:17 states, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart.” The best candidate to be a fisherman for God is a man or woman who sees himself or herself as a great sinner in need of a great Savior. When the prophet Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on His throne he cried out, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (Isaiah 6:5-6). The nearer a person comes to God, the more he sees his own sinfulness and unworthiness. I’m convinced that the person who sees how sinful he is and really understands the grace of God is the best candidate to be used by God.
Do you see yourself as a great sinner? Ask God to reveal who you really are, in light of who He really is, and then trust Him. Understand that if you want to be a fisher of men, to be used by God to advance His kingdom, then first you must hear His voice. You must hear Jesus calling, “Follow me,” and when you hear His call, you must respond, “Yes Lord, I will follow you.” You must hear, and you must believe. Those who hear and sincerely turn their lives over to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are His true followers. As you trust Him, He will make you a fisher of men.