Peter, James and John fished for a living. They knew when to fish and where to fish but on this day the fish were not cooperating. When Jesus tells them to let down the nets they reply that they have worked all night and caught nothing. But, at Jesus’ words, they dropped the nets and caught so many fish their nets began to break. Peter is overwhelmed at the presence of the Lord and falls at his feet. The Lord tells them that from now on, they will be catching men, not fish (). Consider these three thoughts:
Man’s Work is Futile
Peter, James and John toiled all night for nothing. Not a fish was caught. Certainly they were doing their best and using the best techniques they knew. Their lives and the lives of their family depended upon their work. Yet, they came up empty handed.
When we depend on our own knowledge and abilities in evangelism, we will also come up short. Man does not have the ability to save souls. We create programs and ministries and we design training programs to teach people how to spread the gospel. In some places even the very worship of God has been changed so as to draw more into the kingdom of Christ yet we are failing to change lives. Apart from Jesus, Peter, James and John caught no fish. And apart from Jesus we will save no souls.
The Fish May Not Be Where You Expect Them to Be
The Bible says the fishers were “astonished” at the catch (). I wonder if they had fished in the same spot before or if they had overlooked it. In any case, they were stunned at the unexpected results.
Sometimes, people who need and desire the gospel are not where we expect them to be. Sometimes they do not look like us and do not talk like us. They may even have some rough edges on them. How many times have we failed to evangelize because a neighbor seemed uninterested or because a neighborhood seemed a little tough?
It is the Lord Who Gives the Increase
Jesus is the sole path to God (). He alone is the “lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (). From that Jesus was in the boat with the fishermen. He was there when the net-breaking catch was hauled aboard. The men did nothing different than what they had been doing all night. But with Jesus onboard everything was different.
“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
There are great lessons in this short story from the banks of the Galilee. Trust God and he will bless us with a great bounty for the kingdom. Our nets (buildings) will be filled to overflowing with a multitude of fish (people) if we will trust Jesus!
Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at bryantevans.com. You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.
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5:1 On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 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. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. (ESV)
9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, (ESV)
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (ESV)
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (ESV)
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (ESV)
3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. (ESV)
2:1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (ESV)
6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (ESV)