Throughout the short life of Jesus, He took many opportunities to incorporate everyday life into His teachings. This method of teaching was extremely beneficial. By using things that His hearers already knew and understood, He made His teachings easier to apply. Take for instance the account of fishing in Luke chapter five.
Luke recorded, “And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets” (Luke 5:1-2). At this time, Jesus was very popular amongst the masses. Many people wanted to be near and hear Him speak. Unfortunately, that attitude did not last very long. For we know that later, no man would stand with Him. On this occasion, Jesus’ travels brought Him to the shore of the lake of Gennesaret. Some might be more familiar with the designation Sea of Galilee, while others might recall the Sea of Tiberias (John 6:1). All three titles refer to the same body of water. While there, Jesus comes across two ships that had come ashore from nightly fishing. At that time, the fishermen were not in the ships, but instead, they were cleaning their nets. This would have been normal after a night of fishing.
With the large number of people present, Jesus took opportunity to teach the Word of God. “And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship” (Luke 5:3). I can only wonder what Simon, who is often called Peter, must have thought when Jesus boarded the ship. Whatever he must have thought, Simon Peter was willing to do as Jesus wanted. Jesus now had distance and location that allowed for Him to teach the people as a whole.
After teaching the people, Jesus had one more duty for Simon Peter to perform. “Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught” (Luke 5:4). The reaction of Simon Peter is not completely unexpected. “And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net” (Luke 5:5). Here is an experienced fishermen by trade, who had been fishing unsuccessfully all night. He could have easily had a bad attitude and refused to do as Jesus said. However, to Simon Peter’s credit, he was willing to obey. That is a great lesson for all of mankind to learn.
What happened next is absolutely awe inspiring. “And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink” (Luke 5:6-7). After a long night of catching nothing, all of a sudden, these fishermen had the biggest catch of their lives. Simon Peter’s reaction is one of amazement. “When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8). It is interesting to notice how an average man felt in the presence of the Lord. “For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon…” (Luke 5:9-10). What would have been your reaction? What would you have said? Would you have obeyed the Lord, and by so doing, would you have been blessed so greatly?
After witnessing something that would have seemed unbelievable just a few minutes before, Simon Peter was then given a great responsibility. Notice, “…And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him” (Luke 5:10-11). The greatest of catches is not a ship full of fish, but is rather a soul of man. Today, we are still to be “fishing” for men. Some might have developed bad attitudes to our “fishing”. Some might say, “no one is interested in the Gospel anymore.” Others might say, “well, we have tried door knockings, mailings, and Gospel Meetings, and they do not seem to make much of a difference”. Let us remember that the Lord is still able to “draw all men” unto him (John 12:32). While we may not have seen large catches in a while, that does not mean that it is not possible. Let us do the “fishing”, and let God give the increase (1 Cor. 3:5-6). So, I will end with one last question. Have you gone fishing lately?
~ Corey Barnette