“One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’ When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’ For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.’ So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” Luke 5:1-11
Fishermen had to know their business. It was one of those make-it or break-it jobs. If you had a great catch, it meant shekels in your pocket. But if you had a night when nothing found its way into your net, your pockets were empty. You went to the shore defeated.
There was definitely a skill to fishing. You had to know the right place, the right weather, the right bait, and the right time. You understood your conditions. But there was always the unknown. The fish had a choice. It wasn’t much of a choice, but they could avoid the net.
It was one of those nights. This fishing team had nothing. They had docked their boats and were washing their nets. Their nets were empty, but the shore was full. A Rabbi was standing nearby and the crowd was pressing in. They wanted to hear the Word of God. This Teacher, Jesus, approached Simon and stepped into his boat. He sat down and began to teach.
There was Simon holding an empty net while his boat held the Son of God. Simon heard the Words. Was his heart stirred? Were his hands shaking as he listened to the best Teacher of all time? But when Jesus had finished, he looked at Simon and gave him some coaching. “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
The Teacher knew the Word, but Simon knew fishing. These were not the right conditions and besides their nets were now clean. Simon gave Jesus some coaching. “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
There it was, he had the reason not to go, but responded to the reason to go. The Master had told him.
So out he went. He sailed into the deep and the net miraculously filled with fish. This time the fish had no choice. The Master had spoken. The nets were so full that they began to break. They signaled to their partners. Both boats filled so quickly that they began to sink.
When you have a catch that is so big that your nets begin to tear and your boats begin to sink, you have to approach your fishing a little differently. Simon did. He fell to his knees and asked the Lord to leave. He was a sinner and couldn’t be in the presence of One so great.
He asked Him to leave.
Jesus didn’t leave. Instead, He asked Simon to join.