When Christ Calls
When Christ Calls
by David Neal
Jesus was purposefully walking along the Sea of Galilee: Luke 5:2-3, “And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 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.” Christ had used Simon Peter’s boat as a stage from which to teach the people, but also had additional purpose in his request. Luke 5:4-5, “Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 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.”
Simon was a fisherman by trade and no doubt had many years of experience (probably an apprentice in his youth). Jesus was not taken to be a fisherman with any such skill. Peter had labored hard all night, using his skills and abilities, yet had produced no results. He was probably tired and frustrated from his efforts. Jesus was telling Peter to put aside his self-sufficiency and not trust in his experience (reliance on self), but rather to go forth into the unknown (the deep) in faith at Christ’s command.
Peter didn’t question (gainsaying, doubt) Christ’s purposes or authority or correct, nor instruct Him, as all the religious leaders constantly did. He just submitted to Him (as Master) through a willing heart and obeyed. Peter didn’t dispute or doubt, but went forth at Jesus’ word (based upon Jesus’ direction). Luke 5:6, “And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.”
Man’s efforts had produced no results, but the situation was reversed through obedience and submission to God. The results exceeded all expectations. Man, by seeking his way will ultimately result in failure. When man submits to God (in all things) in loving obedience, success is achieved. Luke 5:7-8, “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. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
In our humbleness to God (working through His will), our expectations are exceeded. Peter when confronted with his inabilities, realizes the greatness of God and his own transgressions against Him – his unworthiness. Peter, who claimed no particular favor with God, had a pliable heart and this was a big difference (stark contrast) compared to the religious leaders who claimed to represent God. God was looking for hearts that He could use – those who would submit and obey. Christ did not find such obedience in the religious circles, but rather in simple unassuming (humble, unpretentious) men along the shore. Ignorant and unlearned (Acts 4:13 )? Perhaps, but with hearts that God Himself was drawn too.
Our obedience to God also shines as our witness for others to see. Our obedience can produce excitement in others. Luke 5:9-11, “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, 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.”
Jesus, a novice fisherman, showed these seasoned professionals their great need for God and exposed the fallacy of trust in self (the way of man). Peter and these men had no particular qualifications, only hearts to obey when called. Christ called and these men followed. They denied self, took up their crosses and followed – forsaking all (Lk 9:23 , Lk 18:28 ). They didn’t try and preserve their lives (that which was familiar) as fishermen, but rather lost their lives for His name (Lk 9:24 ). No excuses were offered (Lk 9:59-62), just loving submission and obedience. Jesus made them fishers of men (Mt 4:19).
Several years later, shortly after the crucifixion of Christ, Peter was at the Sea of Galilee with several of Jesus’ disciples. The events at the time had produced a lot of emotion and turmoil – both sadness and joy! John 21:3, “Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.”
Some have speculated that Peter was throwing in the towel and returning to his old life. More than likely he was just seeking a measure of comfort in his old familiar environment (Lk 9:62, Heb 10:38 ). The relief (solace) that he sought was not found in his own labor and abilities (however skilled he may have been) and this was evident in the results (no fish were caught).
John 21:4-5, “But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.” God (Christ) had allowed them to continue in their own efforts until they tired and realized their inabilities. John 21:6, “And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.” Jesus told them to do just the opposite of what they had been doing (look at the other side, faith not self). What he was saying was humble yourselves and trust in God, rather than seeking comfort in your skills, abilities, strength, self-sufficiency or familiar surroundings. As at the start, Peter was obedient to Christ’s word and this produced results. The answers are not to be found in the ways of man.
John 21:7, “Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.” The nakedness represents the sin and separation that we have when we seek our “own way” apart from total trust in God (2 Cor 4:3). The fisher’s coat represents God’s covering (forgiveness, acceptance) that we obtain when we see our error, forsake our way (repent) and run (or swim) to Christ.
John 21:8, 11, “And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.” When we are obedient to the Lord the results are miraculous. Jesus then had a conversation with Peter concerning his faithfulness (Jn 21:15 -17). Peter was told that he would be killed in a similar manner to Christ for God’s glory; and was told to follow Him (Jn 21:18 -19). The Master was telling Peter he would have to give all, but follow anyway. Peter questioned the fate (destiny) of others, but was again told to follow Him through God’s very “personal” leading (Jn 21:20 -22).
The Lord is telling us through these two episodes (events) in the life of Peter, that we are to have full trust in Him. We are not talking about surrendering parts of your life through religious observances (day or two a week and some religious works). We are not being told to serve Christ in a way that is comfortable or familiar to us based upon our strengths. The message is to surrender your complete life in all your daily actions. You maintain control of nothing (there are no off-limits), but submit your total being (life) in all things, at all times, and come under God’s authority – Thy will be done, always. We must be willing to lose or forsake all at God’s Word. If not, there is rebellion in us to His purposes.