1 As the crowd was pressing in on Jesus to hear God’s word, He was standing by Lake Gennesaret. 2 He saw two boats at the edge of the lake; the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, which belonged to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from the land. Then He sat down and was teaching the crowds from the boat. 4 When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 “Master,” Simon replied, “we’ve worked hard all night long and caught nothing! But at Your word, I’ll let down the nets.” 6 When they did this, they caught a great number of fish, and their nets began to tear. 7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them; they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, because I’m a sinful man, Lord!” 9 For he and all those with him were amazed at the catch of fish they took, 10 and so were James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were Simon’s partners. “Don’t be afraid,” Jesus told Simon. “From now on you will be catching people!” 11 Then they brought the boats to land, left everything, and followed Him. — Luke 5:1-11
The Calling of the First Disciples
by Michael Volbeda
Some of my favorite passages in the Gospels tell of the earliest days in the ministry of Jesus. His reputation, later built and bolstered by His many miracles, was not yet widely known. In these moments, we see how the people reacted with raw shock and emotion to His teachings and His works. Because I’ve read these verses and heard these stories before, my own reaction is much more subdued when contrasted to theirs. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy reading these passages—because it takes me back to how it must have been to experience Jesus firsthand and for the first time.
When Jesus told Simon Peter to lower his nets, Peter begins to tell Jesus why he won’t catch any fish. And yet, despite his own objections, there’s something about Jesus that prompts him to trust. So he lowers his nets into the water. Just prior to this, Peter had heard Jesus teaching the crowds. We’re not told what it was that Jesus said, but clearly it had an impact. Peter was willing to suspend his disbelief and doubt, responding instead in obedience to this teacher. Peter had a face-to-face encounter with the Son of God, but also with the Word of God—and he couldn’t help but be changed. That same obedience should always be our response when we hear God’s Word.
Peter’s reaction after seeing his nets overflowing with fish is even more telling. When he realizes what has happened, he doesn’t think about how much money they will make from such an enormous haul of fish. Instead, he recognizes someone with this kind of power must holy and righteous—someone sent from God himself. He admits as much when he falls to his knees, asks for mercy and confesses his sins to Jesus.
Jesus followed His first command to Peter—to catch fish—with the command to go and catch people. And as he had done before, Peter again obeyed. As a demonstration of their unflinching commitment and obedience, Luke 5:11 says Peter and his fishing partners dragged their boats ashore and left everything in order to follow Jesus.
- Is there something in particular God has been calling you to? If so, perhaps today is the day of obedience for you. Like Peter casting his nets where he knows there’s no fish, may we obey even if it doesn’t make sense, and trust God with the rest.
- Peter, James and John responded immediately when Jesus called them to follow Him. They left behind their boats and nets in order to fulfill their calling. But it wasn’t just fishing equipment they left behind. It was their livelihood, their comfort and their entire way of life. Imagine how different the world would be today if the disciples had refused to obey and instead had clung to what they were familiar with. Is anything holding you back from fully experiencing the call of God on your life?
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.