Lukeby Mike Raiter
Once again, we find Jesus doing the most important work He has been sent to do: teaching the word of God (v. 1). The crowds are so large that He stands in a boat just offshore and addresses them. When He’s finished, the carpenter begins to tell the fisherman how to do his job. Peter is offended that a man with relatively little experience in fishing should be giving advice to a seasoned professional. Peter knows that the middle of the day is not the time to fish; besides, after a fruitless night’s labour, he knows the fish simply aren’t biting. Nevertheless, Peter follows Jesus’ strange command to go fishing again. The catch is enormous (vv. 2–7)!
For Peter, this is a life-changing revelation. Jesus is clearly more than a prophet. The power He exercises over the world reveals that He holds a unique authority. In that moment, Peter sees something of the glory of Jesus and, like Isaiah receiving the vision and call in the Temple (Isaiah 6:1–5), he becomes profoundly conscious of his own unworthiness (v. 8). Yet, here is the truly amazing thing: such a humble awareness of one’s sin and weakness, far from disqualifying a person for ministry, is the essential prerequisite for ministry.
Jesus tells Peter, James, and John that the rest of their lives will be spent not catching fish, but men and women (v .10). The great haul of fish they have brought to shore points forward to the thousands who will turn to Christ through their preaching.
The Lord Jesus still calls some of His followers today to leave everything and commit themselves to the greatest work of all—saving souls. Not all of us will be frontline “fishermen”, but if this is God’s great work, then we must all play our part. It is a wonderful encouragement to know, that for all the skill and experience we bring to this work, Jesus alone brings the fish into the nets. In an important sense, our work is simply to haul the fish-filled nets to the shore!
What was it about Jesus’ miracle that made Simon Peter aware of his sinfulness? How can we demonstrate the same humility?
While Luke is describing a historical event, he is also giving us some principles for Christian ministry and mission. What are some of the lessons we can draw from this passage for ministry?