Called or Caught?

Luke 5:1-11


Jesus Calls the First Disciples

5 Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed 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. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” 11 When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

This is not the first time Jesus and Simon Peter have met. In fact, Simon Peter has heard Jesus preach, seen him heal and has spent time with him.


BUT now it is time to go to work. Back to fishing. After a bad night on the job, he comes to shore. There is Jesus teaching by the sea. He asks Simon to use his boat as a floating pulpit. And after the sermon, he asks Simon to put the boats out further and tells Simon and the other fishermen to let down the nets.


Imagine what is going through Simon’s mind. After a long night of fishing, and not a very good one, the nets are already being pulled in, washed, and mended. I imagine all Simon wants to do is get this done, call it a day, and get some sleep.


Who is Jesus to tell him how to fish?! Sure, he might be a great teacher, cast out demons, cure his mother-in-law, be well-respected by many, and have large crowds follow him. But what does a son of a carpenter from Nazareth know about fishing? There may be some ponds around there, but no sea like this sea.


Simon says, “We’ve been fishing all night, and have caught nothing. But if you insist…”


I imagine how RELUCTANTLY Simon drops the nearly completely washed and mended nets BACK into the sea. And what happens must completely amaze Simon. The nets are full – bursting at the seams with so many fish – it’s causing the boats to sink.


In this moment, I believe Simon Peter is caught. There is nowhere else to go! I believe that Simon realizes that in every aspect of his life, Jesus is there, completely and fully. Simon realizes he is in the presence of One of power and authority. Simon realizes that this one knows him fully and completely.

Simon confesses his sinfulness, his unworthiness. But that does not stop Jesus from pursuing Simon. Jesus offers no word of forgiveness, but instead opens the door for Simon to join in the mission.


Notice Jesus never says to Simon, “Follow me.” No, instead he tells Simon that his fishing career will now take on a new meaning. Jesus says, “Now we’re catching people, just like you’ve been caught by me!”


Jesus comes to be revealed as the Son of God who has authority over all things. When Jesus is present, the dead are raised, the sick are healed, the lame walk, the blind see. Jesus comes to reveal to us that nothing can separate us from the Love of God – not our sinful nature, not our broken relationships, not the things we have done and left undone, not even death itself. For Jesus comes to conquer sin and death. And he wins.


In response, he comes to us and invites us on the journey, to be ensnared by his love, and empowered to be fellow workers in sharing this message.


And as I shared in yesterday’s devotion, if you don’t think you are equipped, know this: God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips those whom he calls. Because Jesus has set us free, forgiven and freed us for life, may we be ready to say – “Here I am Lord.”


God can and will use you. Do not be afraid. For with God, all things are possible.

Let Us Pray

Almighty God, you have called us to fish. Equip us to be your hands and feet. You call us, you catch us, you empower us. May we use our gifts to do your will. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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