One day Jesus was standing beside Lake Gennesaret when the crowd pressed in around him to hear God’s word. Jesus saw two boats sitting by the lake. The fishermen had gone ashore and were washing their nets.
The setting is a lake side, the scenery is boats, fishing nets and fishermen, the smell would be dead fish and water, gulls flying overhead. Notice this isn’t a bible study in a church or someone’s house and yet – the people come. And why do they come? To hear the word of God, from who? Jesus. Jesus is not a pastor who makes the world come to him – he goes to the people – he steps into their world and he meets them there.
v3, Jesus boarded one of the boats, the one that belonged to Simon, then asked him to row out a little distance from the shore. Jesus sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
Jesus knows Peter, he just healed his Mother-in-law a few stories back. So, Peter is helping Jesus and if you’ve ever put a small boat out a little bit from shore, you’d know that the boat doesn’t just “sit there” by itself, every so often Peter will need to correct the position of the boat by rowing. So Peter is working.
Notice Jesus also ‘sits down’ to teach. Good! He’s in a row boat, that means Jesus knows good fishing boat etiquette. But that’s not why Luke puts it there – actually you’ll notice how often the bible says someone “sat down” to teach. In America, our teachers stand… but in the Middle East, their teachers sit.
v4, When he finished speaking to the crowds, he said to Simon, “Row out farther, into the deep water, and drop your nets for a catch.”
Simon replied, “Rabbi, we’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing. But because you say so, I’ll drop the nets.”
Notice Peter gives a little push back – “you know, we just did this already.” Peter knows the best time to catch fish, at night. Now it is day and all of the fish will be hiding under rocks.
So, the idea that some landlubber from Nazareth is going to tell a seasoned fisherman what to do is preposterous. You can almost hear Peter say, “I don’t come to your office and tell you how to do your job.”
Peter knows he is dropping big thick visible nets in the daytime. He’s not going to catch anything.
v6 So they dropped the nets and their catch was so huge that their nets were splitting. 7 They signaled for their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They filled both boats so full that they were about to sink.
Notice Peter “signals” for his co-workers. He doesn’t shout or call them – why? Well your voice is amplified on water and so if he suddenly broadcasts that he just found a mother-load of fish – who is going to come running? The competition. Or worse – you make a loud sudden noise and what? Scare the fish away…
v 8 When Simon Peter saw the catch, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Leave me, Lord, for I’m a sinner!” 9 Peter and those with him were overcome with amazement because of the number of fish they caught. 10 James and John, Zebedee’s sons, were Simon’s partners and they were amazed too.
Notice how quickly Peter’s demeanor changes. Peter owed Jesus a favor so he took him out in his boat, paddled around while Jesus taught, then Jesus says “let’s do some fishing” and Peter thinks “yea right” and Peter calls Jesus “Rabbi.” It’s the word “episates” and it means “teacher” or “boss.”
But now his nets are bursting with fish and Peter has a sudden feeling of being in the presence of something far more than just a Rabbi and then Peter calls Jesus kyrios (Lord).
The first title just means a person who is in charge, but the second means a person who you owe your life. to.
v10, Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on, you will be fishing for people.” As soon as they brought the boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Jesus.
Jesus gives Peter some assurances, and tells him something incredible. “Those talents and those gifts you have at fishing, I am going to put them to use.”
Interestingly, Jesus uses the word “Zogreo” when he tells Peter he will catch people. And Zogreo comes from the word Greek word Zoe which means “life.” So in effect, Jesus actually says they will “capture” people.
Before Peter would catch live fish and kill them, but now Jesus and Peter would capture dead people and give them life.
Jesus knew that Peter had a talent for fishing, and so he used that life skill to fish for people. The thing that Peter was good at – Jesus used. You see, I think some people think that Jesus asks that we leave it all behind – that “dying to self” means we don’t get to have any fun or do the things that we enjoy – and that’s actually the opposite of the truth.
The reason we have talents and gifts and skills and the reason we come alive when we work or build or create is because GOD put all of those things in us. Yes, Peter dropped his nets – but he was still going to fish with Jesus.