May 23, 2012, 3:45 PM
If you are self-employed, you know what it feels like if after a hard day's work you come home with no returns, no money in your pocket. The tendency is for you to be moody and all upset. Your patience has been tried, on top of it all you feel empty; empty because you have nothing to show for your efforts. Simon Peter and John along with their colleagues felt just that way after they had been fishing all night and had caught nothing. These were experienced and seasoned fishermen, versed in the art. They knew where to throw their nets and what time of the day and season to fish. But when they returned from fishing that particular day nothing seemed to have worked for them. Dawn broke with not a single fish was in the boat either to sell or for the food table.
Not that this event was anything peculiar with fishermen. On countless occasions they have weathered such storms before. That would not have made much difference after all. In the life of a fisherman another day without a catch, though frustrating, was a common occurrence. As they were washing their nets before calling it a day, Jesus shows up and asks to use their boat as a pulpit to speak from. He further asked Simon to pull out a little from the shore. From that vantage point, he taught the people. When he had finished teaching, he said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets far a catch." (Luke 5.4)
Simon said to him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at your word I will let down the net." (Luke 5:5) When they did, something phenomenal happened. They caught so much fish that their nets begin to break and they had to call for help from colleague fishermen nearby who came to their assistance. The catch was so heavy their boats began to sink.
Amazing isn't it? Jesus enters the scene, gives directives and the negative turns to positive. Simon Peter must have thought to himself how that could have been possible. They had worked hard all night at something they had been practising all their professional life and after they had tried everything they could, all their know-how - a practical stranger tells them what to do and it happened that way.
Whenever you come across someone who amazes you, you have no choice but to duff your hat to that person in recognition of his/her superior ability. How he did it, with what knowledge he did it may be irrelevant. What matters here is that you are a witness to a deed that is mind boggling. How did he do it? Simon Peter in the light of what transpired saw himself so little, so inferior, that he had to bow. All of a sudden what you thought of yourself, where you had put yourself ceases to matter. What matters is the here and now. Jesus accomplished what they could not realise all night - after more than ten hours at sea.
Simon Peter's reaction is comprehensible. "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man." (Luke 5:8) Through this miracle the roles are established. Earlier he had addressed him as Master then after what Jesus proved to him to be, he called him Lord. Because our Lord had manifested his superiority, Simon Peter would forever hold him in high esteem, would respect him and would reverence him. "For he and his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken and so had James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners." (Luke 5:9-10)
From then on they would never doubt whatever he would tell them. Without knowing what his vision was and what places he was even going to take them, that event had made quite an impact. He had captured their hearts and their senses like indelible ink would on any surface. Henceforth, they would see nothing but his capabilities and abilities to lead. Then the Lord Jesus put them at ease and calmed their fears with these words. "Don't be afraid, from now on you will catch men." (Luke 5:10)
He announced to them that from that point in time, they would be engaged in another activity not very different from the first. They were to become fishers of men. The end result was devastating. Read on. "So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed them." (Luke 5:11) Thoughts of what would happen to their business after all the investments made over the years did not bother them; that they were forsaking family neither. What was important was that new experience, that new urge and leading into a new venture with someone whose word was his bond. Someone who declares and things fall into place in your life will earn much credence and wpuld impact your life much better than someone who makes declarations for which there are no results. The move these four men made was based on evidence that they had embarked on a novel venture more exciting than a life long activity with nothing to marvel them. Was this a wise move or a good choice? They did not stop to think. One thing was certain, it was not going to be an adventure for the mere sake of adventure, but a conviction that the person whom they were following was one who had authority and who could change ones circumstance.
How many of us would have abandoned everything – job, family and friends, based on the little we knew of a practical stranger? Maybe a few adventurers would. But how many of us would be ready and willing to stick our necks out because we had been eye-witnesses to the marvellous deeds that person had accomplished?
The road proved rough for the disciples that these four men had become along with eight others. More sacrifices were required of them as they faced tougher times. At one time they thought of even throwing in the towel. "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. (John 6:67) The response from Simon Peter is revelatory. "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6: 68)
Our Lord Jesus himself had previously said: "The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe." (John 6:63-64) We are expected to act on the words of Jesus Christ if we want to live forever. "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." (John 5:24) What are you waiting for? Act upon his word now!