Luke 5:6-11 (NIV) 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 catch men.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Jesus had no experience as a fisherman; Simon had spent years learning the trade. But when Jesus, Simon’s master, commanded him to put out into deeper water and let down the nets for a catch in the middle of the day, Simon’s protests lasted only a moment, and then he complied. After all, he had committed himself to following Jesus, and a student didn’t say no to his master.
It was only a few minutes after the nets were let down that Jesus signaled for them to be brought back up. Simon started to pull, and then felt and unexpected resistance. As the leading edge of the nets cleared the water, he could see that they were crammed full of large fish, and that the nets themselves were in danger of tearing.
Quickly Simon signaled James and John in the other boats to come alongside, and between them they got the huge haul of fish into the two boats. In fact, there were so many fish that both boats sank down under the weight until the gunwales were barely above the water.
In that moment when he saw the impossible take place, Simon had a brilliant flash of insight. This man seated calmly in the boat next to him was no mere man. John the Baptist had called Him “The Lamb of God (John 1:29),” and had urged Andrew, Simon’s brother, and John to follow Him. Andrew had breathlessly brought Simon to meet Him (John 1:40-42), and Simon had gladly followed Jesus back up to Galilee. But looking at the two boats full of fish convinced Simon that Jesus was more than a mere man, more than a rabbi or guru; He had to be the Messiah Himself.
And in that same instant, the contrast between Jesus’ purity and holiness and his own sinfulness washed over Simon like a wave, dropping him to his knees among the fish that filled the boat and opening his lips in a humble confession: he wasn’t worthy to follow Jesus, to be one of His disciples. It would be better if Jesus just left him alone to continue to be a fisherman.
But Jesus had always known precisely who and what Simon was (John 2:25). And, what’s more, He knew who and what Simon could become as His follower. And it was that knowledge that caused Him to tell Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.”
That was the moment when Simon, Andrew, James and John all went all-in for Jesus. They left their old lives behind and determined that they would follow Him no matter where their journey took them.
Father, I know that some people follow You because of promises made to them regarding forgiveness of sin and eternal life, and even a more successful here and now. But You have more than that for each one who follows You. You actually have a calling that You want us to fulfill as Your people. And I know that in my case, that clear calling has made all the difference. It has helped me to stand strong when life has thrown me curve balls, temptations, and even tragedies. Help us all, Lord, to listen carefully until we hear Your calling on our lives, and then to move forward to fulfill that calling in Your power. Amen.