The Miracle Catch
Today I want to tell you the story of Jesus' Miracle Catch. This episode is set early in Jesus' Galilean ministry while He was teaching in the north near his hometown. Luke tells us that during this time:
- He was very popular with the people. 4:15
- He also was beginning to stir up anger among some who apposed Him - 4:29
- He performed many signs and miracles during this part of His ministry …
It was during this period that He went to Peter's house, healed Peter's mother in-law and all those who were brought to Him with various illnesses. Luke writes that this ministry grew in numbers as He went teaching from place to place. In response to this demand, Jesus would begin to call certain people to be His Apostles and train them for ministry.
These events lead up to the passage in Lk.5: 1-11 where we see Jesus calling workers into service - and what better place to find those who would gather souls than the shores of Galilee where for centuries men had learned to harvest the sea?
In Luke, chapter 5: 1-11 the author describes the first among several to be called. We'll read this passage but as we do let us note that this was not the first time that Peter and the others had met Jesus.
As neighbors from the same village with families growing side by side Peter and his family had heard Jesus teaching, probably seen His power, and were already disciples of His in some way or another. But on this day a special call was issued by the Lord - a call that helps us see the qualities necessary in a person who would become ".. a fisher of men."
1. A good fisher of men is obedient to the word.
vs.1-3 - Very crowded at the edge of the Lake while he taught, not conducive to good teaching.
The two empty boats belong to fisherman returning from a rights fishing, cleaning their nets. Jesus asks Peter, one of these fishermen, to put out from the shore so He can better address the crowd from the boat. Like a floating platform (Jesus sat as rabbis did).
vs.4-5 - When finished Jesus tells Peter to go to deep water and let down his nets in order to catch. This contradicts good sense: Best time to fish is at night or early dawn not in broad daylight. Best places are moderate depth, not very deep places.
·Peter ads that they had tried all night with great effort and experience in probably all the best places and had caught nothing. But in Peter's response we see one of the basic qualities needed for one who was to become, as Jesus said "Fishers of Men", and that is -obedience to the words of Jesus.
- Against all the fishing rules.
- Against the embarrassing stares of the other fishermen on the shore and his fishing partners.
- Even against his sore and tired body Peter says, ".. at your bidding, I will let down my nets."
In other words, "Your words command my will - I will do what you say". Those who would fish for men need to first be absolutely dedicated to obedience to Christ's word before any other influence. There is good reason for this:
Winning souls is not a human effort accomplished through man's wisdom but rather it is accomplished through:
- The power of the gospel - Rom.1: 16
- The foolishness of preaching - 1 Cor.1: 21
- By people who know nothing except Christ and Him crucified - 1Cor.2: 2
Only fools for Christ catch men for Christ. Peter demonstrated his foolishness by obeying Jesus against the odds on that day.
Another Quality of Fishers of Men…
2. Clear Sense of Sinfulness.
vs.6-10a - Peter's faith was rewarded by a tremendous catch that even both boats could not hold.
In the most unlikely place and time when experts had failed, they catch an incredible amount of fish and this at the simple word of Jesus → the carpenter's son, the teacher who was suppose to know nothing about fishing!
Peter has heard Jesus teach certainly the sermon to the multitude that day, and was already a believer. He had seen the other healings (even his own mother in-law) and miracles too but this one -- done in his own boat within his own profession somehow strikes home all of the things previously said and done by Jesus and drives Peter to his knees in recognition of his own unworthiness before the Lord.
In this we see a 2ndimportant quality of a good fisher of men - a clear sense of one's own unworthiness before Jesus. Lord's messengers and servants has this common sensibility:
- Moses felt unworthy
- Isaiah, a man of unclean lips
- Paul, chief of sinners
A clear image of one's own sinfulness allows a person to glory in the marvelous grace of God and the love of 'Christ. This insight spurs us on to do the will of God with Joy. It's what Paul refers to when he wrote in 1Cor.15: 9-10 concerning himself. (Read)
It's what Jesus was explaining to the Pharisees who questioned the propriety of a prostitute washing and drying His feet with her tears and hair.
Lk.7: 47 - In saying to them, "he who is forgiven little loves little", Jesus was trying to show them that unless they saw their own sinfulness clearly they could never recognize their need for Him and consequently experience His love for them and their love for Him, and they could never love other sinners either.
Peter's heart was broken open by this miracle and he saw his own sinful reflection in the shinning mirror of Christ's power and perfection - and he was afraid.
Although it may have been painful at the time, this humble recognition of Christ's Lordship and his own personal unworthiness was to be a second valuable asset for one who was to become a skilled catcher of men.
3. Absolute Commitment.
Peter is paralyzed, his life is revealed, he is in shock because of the miracle, fatigue and the crowd, he can' t go forward, he can't return. The self-realization, his confession --He wants Jesus to leave him there in his paralyses. Jesus reassures him not to be afraid of dying in his sins or of his helpless state.
He forces him to make a decision, now that he has come to recognize the truth about himself, a decision we all have to make when this happens to us. He gives him a choice, to stay paralyzed or to follow Him into the work of the kingdom and Peter responds.
In this we see the third indispensable quality for good fishermen - absolute commitment to the call. Peter (and others) leave everything - boats, fish, nets, people etc. (Family probably took over) They left immediately. When the call came, they wasted no time. They followed the Lordship and direction of Jesus.
For the next several years they and others were called and in every case documented, they left all and followed Jesus with single-minded determination. (Except the Rich Young Ruler).
Those who would be fishers of men don' t look back at their sins, at their old lives, at their success or failures - they concentrate on fishing for men, and that's all!
Summary / Exhortation
I think there are two major lessons in this story:
1. The first is a description of the qualities necessary for being a good fisher of men. Those who have a calling to minister, to preach, to lead, to serve need to examine themselves carefully to see if they posses -not diplomas or easy speech but rather:
a) A willingness to obey Jesus at His word. A readiness to go against opposition, embarrassment, conventional wisdom and tradition in order to simply and humbly do what Jesus says - period!
b) Sensitivity towards their own sinfulness. A clear conscious awareness of our unrighteousness helps us appreciate the cross and have compassion for those who are sinners like ourselves.
c) This passage also reminds us that if one is to be a good fisherman he must leave all and follow Jesus. No looking back, no hesitation, no struggle between serving 2 masters. Many believed in Jesus that day and returned to their nets in the search for fish, others left all to become fishers of men.
2. I think however there is a broader lesson in this passage also. One that includes all of us, not just those who aspire to a particular ministry, -- that is the lesson of the Miracle Catch.
The lesson of the Miracle Catch is this:
Jesus will provide the catch if we are willing to fish. So many times we won't try to do something to win souls, to serve in the church, to encourage others, to grow in faithfulness or purity or knowledge because:
- of what other people will think
- of resistance from family or others in and out of the church (What's he doing? He's teaching, becoming more committed? etc.)
- of our perceived lack of resources..
- Not enough money
- Not enough time
- Not enough people, knowledge, etc.
- Not enough strength to overcome sin
But the story of the Miracle Catch teaches us that if we'd just get our nets into the water, Jesus would provide the catch - and more often than not a catch much bigger than we could handle.
So, where are we this morning?
Are we in the boat with Peter casting our nets into the deep waters of faith? or are we standing on the shore of fear and disbelief?
A miracle catch awaits those who are willing to respond to the call of Jesus. Whether it be;
- the call to repent and be baptized and wash away your sins.
- the call to be restored to Him as a faithful disciple.
- the call to follow Him in ministry for the first time.
- the call to lower our nets into deeper waters - meaning deeper commitment, riskier walk, a more challenging and harder work of faith.
Whatever it is, listen to the call - you will find your miracle catch! If Jesus asked you to cast your nets in really deep waters in order to find and help the battered wives, the abused children, the homeless and neglected - would you, like Peter say, "At your bidding I will let down my nets"?
You see all these things are risky, out of reach, go against personal convenience, move us out of the safety area where all is warm and fuzzy.
Comfortable, Predictable, Manageable
But I dare say that if you did even half of these things, you would see what a miracle catch looks like in your own lives - because as I've said before, Jesus will provide the catch, if you would only let down your nets.
My prayer for us is that the Lord will bless our work here, that from our number many will become fishers of men and that we will all come to experience the Miracle Catch in our personal lives and corporate lives as a church as well.
The first step in this, like Peter, is to obey Jesus.
- Become a disciple (Repent / Be Baptized)
- Renew your commitment - Prayer.
Please listen to the Lord as He calls out to you today.