How is your faith for evangelism? Too frequently mine is too small. I hate that sin of unbelief and having just spent a few days with some joyful, bold, fruitful evangelists, I am freshly encouraged to fight it.
A reluctance to fish for men, whether from fear, selfishness, weariness, or skepticism that it will actually work exposes that I trust my own perceptions and not Jesus. And the story of Peter and Jesus and empty nets filled is strengthening my faith to “fish.” It may strengthen yours too.
The Most Important Lesson on Fishing
Peter knew Jesus was extraordinary before Jesus filled Peter’s fishing nets to the breaking point in Luke 5:1–11. He had already been introduced to Jesus through his brother Andrew and received his new name (John [1:40]–42). Jesus had already been in Peter’s home and healed his mother-in-law (Luke [4:38]–39).
So in Luke 5, Peter was already grappling with Jesus’s call on his life. Jesus had become the most famous preacher in Israel. He was performing incredible signs and wonders. Crowds followed him wherever he went. Peter must have felt profoundly unqualified to be Jesus’s disciple, having no formal theological training.
The one thing Peter knew how to do was fish. Or so he thought. Actually, Jesus was about to teach Peter the most important fishing lesson of Peter’s life.
That morning after Jesus had man-fished from Peter’s boat, he instructed Peter, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4). Peter’s faith may not have even been mustard-seedish. He had fished all night and the sea might as well have been a desert.
However, Peter didn’t refuse. He replied, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:5). His expectations may have been very low, but he was at least willing to obey. He and his partners dropped the nets.
Then unexpectedly the nets became heavy! Really heavy. It took everything Peter and Andrew had not to drop the bursting nets in the sea as they waited for John and James to come help. Somehow they managed to heave up the nets and fish filled both boats.
Peter, overwhelmed with conviction, said to Jesus, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8). His sin of unbelief was exposed. He knew that it was not his expertise, experience, work-hard ethic, or his puny faith that had brought in the fish. All he did was net them. Jesus brought the fish in — something only God could do. And now he had a new fear and a new faith.
And that was precisely the result Jesus was after. A Peter who now thought much less of himself and much more of Jesus was ready for real fishing. And so Jesus said to him, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men” (Luke [5:10]).
Written by Jon Bloom
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