1Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 7So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” 11When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
This is not the first time Jesus and Simon Peter have met. In fact, Simon Peter has heard Jesus preach, seen him heal and has spent time with him.
BUT now it is time to go to work. Back to fishing. After a bad night on the job, he comes to shore. There is Jesus teaching by the sea. He asks Simon to use his boat as a floating pulpit. And after the sermon, he asked Simon to put the boats out further and tells Simon and the other fishermen to let down the nets.
Imagine what was going through Simon’s mind. After a long night of fishing, and not a very good one, the nets were already being pulled in, washed, and mended. I imagine all Simon wanted to do was get this done, call it a day, and get some sleep.
Who was Jesus to tell him how to fish! Sure, he might be a great teacher, cast out demons, cure his Mother-In-Law and be well respected by many, and have large crowds follow him. But what is a son of a carpenter from Nazareth know about fishing. There may be some ponds around there, but no sea like this sea.
Simon says, “We’ve been fishing all night, and have caught nothing. But if you insist…”
I imagine RELUCTANTLY Simon drops the nearly completely washed and mended nets BACK into the sea. And what happens must have completely amazed Simon. The nets were full – bursting at the seams, with so many fish, it was causing the boats to sink.
In this moment, I believe Simon Peter is caught. There is nowhere else to go! I believe that Simon realizes that in every aspect of his life – Jesus is there, completely, and fully. Simon realizes he is in the presence of One of power, and authority. Simon realizes that this one knows him fully and completely.
Simon confesses his sinfulness, his unworthiness. But that does not stop Jesus from pursuing Simon. Jesus offers no word of forgiveness, but instead opens the door for Simon to join in the mission.
Notice Jesus never says to Simon, “Follow me.” No, instead he tells Simon that the fishing career will from now on take a new meaning – Jesus says, “Now we’re catching people, just like you’ve been caught by me!”
Jesus comes to be revealed as the Son of God who has authority over all things. When Jesus is present, the dead are raised, the sick are healed, the lame walk, the blind see. Jesus comes to reveal to us that nothing can separate us from the Love of God – not our sinful nature, our broken relationships, the things we have done and left undone, not even death itself. For Jesus comes to conquer sin and death. And he wins.
In response, he comes to us and invites us on the journey, to be ensnared by his love, and empowered to be fellow workers in sharing this message.
If you don’t think you are equipped, know this - God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips those whom he calls. Because Jesus has set us free, forgiven and freed us for life, may we be ready to say - Here I am Lord.
God can and will use you. Do not be afraid. For with God, all things are possible.
Let us pray: Almighty God, you have called us to fish. Equip us to be your hands and feet. You call us, you catch us, you empower us. May we use our gifts to do your will. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.