Of Fish and Men

Coty Pinckney on Luke 5:1-11

fish and menJesus has gone out to preach elsewhere. He is no longer in Capernaum, but in another town on the same lake. The crowd keeps coming; as more and more arrive, they push those in front up toward Jesus, forcing Him into the water. So He goes out into the lake and, climbing in a boat, speaks from there. After finishing, He tells the expert fisherman to throw in their nets. Now, the middle of the day is not a very good time to catch fish. Peter knows this full well. But to humor this carpenter, Peter agrees to throw in his nets, thinking that he will show Jesus that at least in this area, Peter know more than He does.

6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 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. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.  Luke 5:6-10

Peter is the experienced fisherman, but Jesus knows more about fishing. They get a huge catch.

Is that the only lesson? Is this just another example of the authority of Jesus – this time, of His authority over fish, making them swim into nets?

Look at Peter’s reaction. He falls down before Jesus – thus worshiping Him – and says, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” That seems a strange reaction. What is that about?

Verse 9 begins with the word “for,” so the next phrase must explain Peter’s response. “They were astonished at the catch.” They are fishermen. They know such things don’t happen. Peter has seen his mother-in-law healed. He has seen many more healed at and around her house. But this miracle, in his own area of expertise, helps Peter see Jesus in a whole new way. This miracle causes Peter to ask, “Who is this man? He is from God! He is God’s man! I’m unworthy to be near Him!”

That’s the right response to a miracle. Not, “OK, he passed the test!” That would have been the reaction of the people of Nazareth had Jeus performed for them. No. The right response is, “This is the power of God! I don’t deserve to be anywhere near God’s power! I am so unworthy!”

Peter is right. He is unworthy. But “a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). So Jesus turns to Peter and says,

“Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” Luke 5:10b

Jesus says, “Peter, you got it right. All these people have seen miracles, but few have responded in the right way. I will use men like you. I will send you out, as I myself was sent out. You will preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, as I have preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. You will bring repentant men into the Kingdom, as I have done. Join me.”

Verse 11 gives Peter’s response:

And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

Peter, Andrew, James, and John now know that Jesus is worth more than all they own, all they dreamed of, all they hoped for. Jesus has called them. They have a task to do for Him. Nothing else matters. Not their father in the boat. Not the income they forego. All for Jesus. All for Jesus.