Read: Luke 5:1-11
Consider: Today’s reading from Luke 5 recounts when Jesus called his first disciples. Luke combines this with an incident where Simon (Peter) and his companions had been fishing all night and caught nothing, only to land a large haul of fish when they followed Jesus’ instructions. There is a similar incident recorded in John’s gospel (John 21), but this occurs after Jesus’ resurrection. Thinking about these incidents, they both involved Simon Peter and that could explain why he readily jumped into the water when John (the disciple whom Jesus loved) said: It is the Lord (John 21:7). Perhaps Simon Peter remembered the earlier incident when Jesus had called him to follow him.
In Luke’s account, Jesus is in the boat with the fishermen, when he asks them to: Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch (Luke 5:4b). Simon’s answer is insightful. We are told: Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets’ (5:5). Simon and his companions had been out fishing all night and had caught nothing, but they still acted on Jesus’ instructions. We need to keep in mind that this is at the start of Jesus’ ministry and these fishermen would have no real knowledge of who Jesus was. Simon could have remonstrated with Jesus, as he and his companions were experienced fishermen. But look at what he says: ‘… because you say so, I will let down the nets’ (5:5). Despite any misgivings that Simon Peter might have had, he willingly followed Jesus’ instructions and we are told that: ‘… he and his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken’ (5:9). Notice Simon Peter’s reaction to this miracle: When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said: ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man’ (5:8). Simon must have been impressed by what Jesus said to the people when he taught them (5:3) and he must also have seen something in Jesus that made him call him ‘Lord’. The Greek word (κύριος) that Luke uses, conveys the meaning of someone whose authority or power is recognised. This does not mean that Simon Peter recognised Jesus as the Son of God; that would happen much later.
Jesus uses this incident to call Peter to serve him; he does this by using Peter’s career as a fisherman to call him to ‘… fish for people’ (5:10b). Having been called by Jesus, we are told: So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him (5:11).
Thinking about application, there is the obvious implication that when we are called by Jesus to serve him (in whatever capacity), it may involve giving up everything to follow him. This is often particularly true when a person of another faith accepts Jesus as Lord and this alienates them from their family and friends. There is also the implication that when we are serving Jesus in spreading the good news of the gospel, we may have periods of hard work that produce no discernible fruit. At these times we need to listen to the Spirit’s leading that may call us to: Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch (5:4). Despite any weariness or discouragement we might feel, we should respond as Simon Peter did: ‘… because you say so, I will let down the nets’ (5:5).
Pray: Father, may we not become weary or discouraged when we share the good news of the gospel with others. If you call us to ‘put out into deep water’ may we do so willingly, trusting in your faithfulness. Amen