Previously, Jesus revealed his personal, physical, and verbal compassion for the people in Capernaum. He delighted to make them whole, not just healed. And that meant that he was committed to the proclamation of the good news of the kingdom of God (4:43-44).
Read Luke 5:1-11
Jesus often utilized the scenery to illustrate his message. That doesn’t mean he always had a prop in his hand, or put on some distracting costume, but he valued relating truth to everyday lives.
Catching fish illustrates evangelism.
A miraculous provision leads to a marvelous conversion and an all-encompassing mission.
Jesus Preached (1-3)
Peter and his brother Andrew were fishing with their parters, James and John. They spent the whole night using a dragnet without a catch.
While washing and mending their nets Jesus began teaching. Peter must have known something about this Jesus who was stepping into his boat.
The crowd grew so that Jesus needed more amplification. The shore around Galilee, near Capernaum contains several sloping inlets which serve as natural amphitheaters. By pushing out into the water a bit, Jesus was able to project his voice to the entire crowd much better than he could from the shore.
Let us, once again, see this as a simple reminder of the value of preaching. Jesus established himself in the best possible position to reach the greatest number of people. All heard, but not all were called and enabled to respond.
From teaching everyone, he turns to specifically instruct the fishermen.
Jesus Commanded (4-7)
Jesus taught. Peter fished. Both were skilled at their trade. Even though they had caught nothing when they fished at night, the best time to fish, Jesus commands them to fish in the middle of the day, the worst time to fish.
Out of respect, Peter obeys.
Stand in Peter’s sandals for a moment. Think about the job you do everyday. Now imagine someone with entirely different work experience telling you how you can be more effective. You reluctantly agree to try it, and it works!
Now imagine standing along the shore and witnessing all of this happen.
How would you respond? We will consider Peter’s response in a moment, but consider how this would make you feel. Awe? Joy? Would you offer to hire Jesus? Would you be ready to follow Jesus after receiving such a miraculous provision?
Jesus followed his first command with an even greater call.
Jesus Called (8-11)
Instead of hiring Jesus, he asked him to depart! Shocking! In one sense this is good. Peter reveals his humility. He recognized God’s power revealed through Jesus Christ. A response of fear is consistent with every human reaction to the manifestation of God’s glory and power.
There is a common pattern to Old Testament call accounts: Divine initiative > Protest > Reaction > Divine reassurance > Commission. They aren’t always in the same order, but they typically contain these elements.
Consider a few examples: Exod. 3:1-22; Job 42:5-6; Rev. 1:12-18; Isa. 6:1-8.
After denying Jesus three times, full of shame and confusion, Peter went fishing. All night without success. Jesus approaches in morning John 21:4-7.
Why didn’t Peter ask Jesus to depart once again?
Although he knew himself to be a great sinner, he knew Christ to be a great Savior!
Jesus preached to the crowd, commanded some fishermen, and then called them to become fishers of men.
Sproul The call to discipleship was in the midst of a manifestation of holiness.
It was Jesus, in his humanity, that caused Peter to react with fear and trembling. It was the same Jesus, in his glorified body, that caused Peter to come charging towards him in the freedom of forgiveness. The two episodes mark the devastating and glorious experience of salvation.
Jesus should make us uncomfortable, as an initial reaction. But we cannot remain there once we’ve come to see His grace and mercy!