So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So 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. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him. (Luke 5:1-11)
There was a tremendous spirit of interest in the teaching of Jesus by the people. Imagine so many people pressing against the Lord to hear His words it required Him getting into a boat to push off from land just to allow everyone to hear Him. Eager eyes watching Jesus as he taught as they enthusiastically listened to His message. Off to the side Peter, James and John were washing their nets. They had to be astonished by the size of the crowd as they listened to Jesus talk. When it was all finished the Lord told Peter to take his boat and catch some fish. Having no success the night before the reluctant fishermen set out to the deep and cast their nets. To their shock the nets filled with so many fish they had to call for help. When they pulled all the fish into their boats the weight of the fish nearly sank them. Peter’s eyes grew large as he had never seen such a miracle. He knew he was in the presence of something very special.
Fishing for a living is a hard and arduous task. There are many nights like the night before when hours are spent setting nets and no reward. Sometimes there is a good catch on a good day. But there was never a day like the day they went fishing with the Lord. This changed the lives of Peter, James and John. They knew they had seen the power of God and they knew there was more to life than catching fish. Immediately they followed Jesus to become fishers of men.
Miracles ceased a long time ago. The miracle catch of fish will not happen today but the power of the word of Jesus still works in the lives of men. Men have toiled a lifetime seeking answers in the night of man’s wisdom. Working diligently they have come up empty. When the Lord comes along and shows men the way the blessings are abundant. So many blessings they are overflowing. Only the Lord can bring that kind of power into our lives. When we recognize the power of God in our lives we are more willing to forsake the trappings of this world for the eternal blessings of the Lord. Forsaking all shows the pattern of sacrifice to seek the Lord in every way. The early disciples walked away from their life work to begin a new work of fishing for men. We are not called on to leave our jobs but we are called on to sacrifice our lives to bring men to Christ. What greater blessing can there be to help someone come to Christ?
As this New Year filled with plans and purpose dawns let us resolve to forsake the priorities of this life and put the Lord back in first place. It is easy to move God down a few notches in life. We get so busy fishing in life we forget to focus on the Lord. Seek the kingdom of God first in life once again and remember the purpose to which we are called. Fishers of men don’t just talk about fishing – they go fishing for men. This requires sacrifice. He gave so much – we can give our love to Him by helping others know the wonder working power of salvation. Let’s go fishing.
The first demand which is made of those who belong to God’s church is … that they shall be witnesses of Jesus Christ before the world. (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics, 1955)