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 (Luke 5:1-11). 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 (Luke 5:9). 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?
We must not filter out prospects for the gospel. Our job is to teach (Matthew 28:18-19) and God’s job is to save.
It is the Lord Who Gives the Increase
Jesus is the sole path to God (John 14:6). He alone is the “lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). From Luke 5:3 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.
Paul supports our thinking here in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2:
“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.”
Paul had little interest in evangelism based upon the wisdom of the world. He simply preached Jesus and him crucified. When we labor in the way God desires, he will give the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).
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!