As Jesus calls the first disciples, several points are worth underlining for us today. First of all, note how the crowd is pressing in on Jesus to hear the Word of God. Let us be like that! Let us press in, seek, work towards, seek out, the Word of God. There was no empty row or two of seats at the front of that sanctuary! The front row seats went first, in the same way they do at a professional sports game or at a rock concert. They wanted to be close and pressed in to be close, to hear God’s Word.
Then note how Jesus sat down to teach the people from the boat. Without an ecclesiastical pulpit on hand, Jesus used a fishing boat and the backdrop of the sea to be an effective place from which to preach. You may not have a pulpit, but if you are a Christian, pray that God would give you some place from which to stand to proclaim God’s Word, in word and in deed. Ministers are not to only preach God’s Word in their buildings, but to pray and preach God’s Word to their neighbors and friends, to the highways and byways, and call them to come in to the feast of the kingdom of God.
Then note how Simon, as a professional man in his area of expertise, while believing that he knew best with regard to fishing, yet at the “word” of Jesus let down his nets once more. We should be like that. Whatever the data and analysis and expertise might say, at the end of the day the Word of God is endlessly trustworthy. Trust what he says and act upon it.
Note the extraordinary response. There was so much fish that it filled both boats and they both began to sink! Such is the power of Jesus’ Word!
Then look at Peter’s response: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Simon Peter realized that the power that Jesus had displayed showed that he he was holy, was the Lord, and that by comparison Peter was a sinful man. It is a sign of God’s work when we realize our sinfulness—and then call out to God for forgiveness.
And then note Jesus’ commission. From now on Peter would be catching men. God uses our expertise—in this case fishing—to his purposes. Whatever our background or skill set, there is nothing that God cannot redeem for his good purposes. Fishing is a particularly apt metaphor for evangelism. There is an art to good gospel work, as there is to fishing. But whereas fishing for fish was taking fish from life to death, fishing for people is taking people from death to life.
And finally, stare long and hard at their response: “they left everything and followed him.” It may well be that not all are called to this literally (though some are). Jesus tells some to stay where they are and witness to their own people. Abraham and David had many possessions. But all followers of God are called now to realize that whatever they have it is all now his. They are merely stewards. They do not own anything. It is all for him and to be used for his purposes.
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