1On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, 2and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
Jesus fame has spread. He is the worker of miracles and people are naturally curious about Him. The crowds are so vast that He employs a boat to remove Himself from the crowd while still being able to speak with them. On this occasion He is by the shore, early in the morning when Peter and his crew are coming ashore. They’ve had a terrible night of fishing and have caught nothing. Jesus uses this empty boat to gain some distance from the crowd so that He can effectively teach them. When the message is over He instructs Peter to drop his nets again. That’s strange instruction because the time for fishing is during night and it is morning. Of course, they haul in an enormous number of fish almost to the point of capsizing not one but two boats! Peter realizes he is in the presence of Someone truly remarkable and thus his relationship with the Lord begins. Also present that day was James and John. The ranks of the Disciples are being filled.
There is here a symbolism that has previously escaped me.
Because Christ is present in the boat, it becomes a symbol of the church, where Christ’s teaching and miracles take place and where believers are gathered. Luther sees it this way when he says: “It is our comfort, however, that Christ, through our preaching, will lead his own into the boat.” The church also had this in mind when it named the part of the sanctuary called the “nave”—Latin for “boat” or “ship.”
Just, A. A., Jr. ©1996. Luke 1:1–9:50 (p. 206). St. Louis, MO: CPH.
This perspective makes this text one of a missional expression of our responsibility to share the Gospel. What cannot go unnoticed is that Peter, James, and John can in no way be credited with bringing the fish to the boat or even placing them into the net. Jesus is the One who works this miracle. Peter, James, and John merely haul the fish into the boat (church). When a soul is saved, it’s not the one who shares the message that brings them into the Kingdom. That is the work of the Savior/Holy Spirit alone. But, Peter’s hands are the ones that pull those fish into the boat. He is a part of the process and had to be available to do the work. His response of worship is stunning, though. Just imagine the mind storm that must have taken him over as he pulled those fish into the boat. He knew He was in the presence of God Himself and properly falls to his knees in worship. That is remarkable.
I pray that my eyes would be open as Peter’s were so that when I see something that God had done I too will fall to my knees in worship and adoration of the living God. May we all recognize God when He acts in our lives and give Him the praise He deserves.