I have always loved the story of Jesus and the disciples in Luke 5:1-11. The crowds pressed in on Jesus so forcefully that He commandeered Peter’s fishing boat so He could teach from the safe confines of the shallow waters off the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus’ teaching was so compelling crowds of people sat on the beach for hours listening to Him.
Once Jesus finished teaching, He instructed Peter: “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4). This command was rich with significance. First, Peter had listened to Jesus teach all morning. Rather than sending Peter home, as Jesus did with the crowd, He gave Peter an opportunity to practice what he had just heard. Too often Christians fill their head with knowledge, but don’t allow God to help them experience what they just learned. The truth is, once you see something in Scripture, you must stay alert to how Christ will let you experience that truth in your daily living.
Second, when Jesus boarded Peter’s boat, He entered Peter’s area of expertise. Few people understood fishing on the Sea of Galilee better than he did. He was the captain of the boat, which meant he was in charge. Nevertheless, Jesus, the carpenter, assumed command of the boat and began giving orders. Peter knew the best time to fish was at night, when the fish were in the shallow waters. During the heat of the day, the fish moved into the deep where it was much more difficult to catch them. Peter and his partners had toiled all night and not caught one fish. Surely it was futile to heed the advice of a carpenter. Peter responded: “Nevertheless, at Your word I will let down the net” (Luke 5:5). What happened next astonished him. He caught such an enormous load of fish that it almost sank both his and his partners’ boats as they pulled it in. Peter declared: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Peter was amazed and recognized he was in the presence of the Son of God. Jesus replied: “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men” (Luke 5:10). Jesus was taking Peter to a deeper place.
I believe Jesus wants board many of our boats today. Like Peter, we feel we have areas of our life in which we are knowledgeable and experienced. We feel we don’t need much help or counsel in those areas. Yet the truth is, just like Peter, we may have toiled all night and caught little or nothing. We have worked hard, we have used techniques that were successful in the past, but we have achieved little success. Just as Peter might have reasoned why he couldn’t always be lucky in catching fish, we may have a plethora of reasons why we aren’t currently experiencing success.
Then we read how, when Peter fished Jesus’ way, he was astonished at the result. We must ask ourselves: When was the last time I was astonished at something God did in my life?” We may be toiling, but are we astonished? I realize life consists of many routine, mundane moments. But now and then I pray God would board my boat, give me a command, and then astonish me at the result.
We all have a fishing boat we need to surrender to Jesus’ control. Some pastors believe preaching is their gift, yet attendance in their congregation is dwindling. These pastors may never consider that God wants to do a fresh work in the preparation and delivery of their sermons. So they continue to toil, catching little in their nets.
There are business leaders who have worked in the marketplace their entire adult life. Yet if they were to invite Jesus into their business world, they would be astonished at what He would do.
There are parents who have been raising children for years. They are veterans. But now their teenagers have strayed from God. These parents may never ask other parents for advice. Rather, they feel they have done “all they know to do.” The truth is they desperately need to ask Jesus to enter their parenting world and help them know where to cast their nets.
We know we need God in our weakness, but we sometimes overestimate our abilities in our areas of strength. Peter may well have recognized his need for Jesus’ help in other areas of his life, such as preaching, walking on water, and performing miracles. But Jesus entered the domain of Peter’s expertise, and took him to incredibly deeper places than he had ever been before.
Does Jesus want you to launch out into the deep? Does he want to take your current experience and elevate it to a new level? Have you become so concerned about your weaknesses that you neglected to invite Jesus to speak into your area of strength?
Why don’t you let Jesus on to your boat, do what He says, and then be amazed?