1 So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret,
2 and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets.
3 Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.
The Lake of Gennesaret is the Sea of Galilee.
It is thirteen miles long by eight miles wide. It lies in a dip in the earth’s surface and is 680 feet below sea level. That fact gives it an almost tropical climate. Nowadays it is not very populous but in the days of Jesus it had nine townships clustered round its shores, none of fewer than 15,000 people.
The large crowd present gives testimony to His increasing popularity as a teacher; the crow was so big that Jesus had to teach from the water.
Simon must have felt privileged to have Jesus teach from his boat; it must of also made him pay all the more attention.
4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
After the Lord had finished speaking to the people, He said, “Now we’ll leave off fishing for men, and we’re going to fish for fish.” Matthew and Mark tell us that the first time the Lord called these men He was walking by the Sea of Galilee and saw Simon Peter and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea — they were fishermen — and the Lord said to them, “. . . Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (cf. Matt. 4:19; Mark 1:17). Now these men have returned to their occupation of fishing. The Lord evidently made three calls to His disciples. He met most of them in Jerusalem. John tells us about it in John chapter 1. When John the Baptist marked Him out, several of his disciples wanted to know where Jesus dwelt. Among those who followed John were Philip, Nathanael, Simon Peter, and Andrew. The Lord did not call these men to be disciples at this time; He just met them. Later on, the Lord passed by the Sea of Galilee, saw them fishing, and called them to follow Him. They left their nets and followed Him. Now they had returned to the fishing business. Later on, Dr. Luke will tell us that once again the Lord called them to go fishing for men and at that time made them apostles.

As our Lord had been speaking to the crowd from his boat, Simon Peter had been sitting in the boat listening. When He finished speaking, He told Simon, “Launch out into the deep, and let your net down. You quit fishing with Me; now I am going to fish with you.”
5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”
“Nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net,” indicates that Simon Peter had put up an argument. These men were expert fishermen, and thought they knew all about fishing in the Sea of Galilee — and they did. Peter makes it very clear that they had fished all night without catching anything.
The story is told that when Wellington once gave a command to one of his generals, he answered that it was impossible to execute the command. Wellington told him, “You go ahead and do it, because I don’t give impossible commands.” When the Lord Jesus Christ gives a command, you do not need to argue with him and say, “We’ve tried it before and it cannot be done.” He does not give impossible commands.
6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.

Fishing must be done according to His directions. There are many lessons for us here. Fishing is an art. You must go where the fish are; you must use the right kind of bait; you must be patient; but the important lesson He is teaching us is that we must fish according to His instructions. If we are ever going to win men for Him, we must fish according to His instructions.

7 So they 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.
The miraculous catch of fish
Peter was kind enough to allow Jesus to use his boat; Jesus is kind enough to direct Peter’s fishing efforts
The particular Greek word Luke uses for Master is unique to Luke; it has in it the idea of “commander” or “leader” – or perhaps even “boss.”

Peter was willing to take orders from Jesus
Think of Peter’s possible excuses: “I’ve been working all night and I’m tired”; “I know a lot more about fishing than some carpenter”; “The best fishing is at night, not in the day time”; “All these crowds and loud teaching has scared the fish away”; “We already washed our nets”; “Jesus may know religion but He doesn’t know fishing”

Peter understood that he probably knew more about fishing than a carpenter, and that he had worked all night without any results. The only reason why Peter did what Jesus asked was because he believed in Jesus, not because the circumstances seemed right
How many harvests do we miss out on because we make excuses instead of doing what Jesus said?
It makes all the difference in the world to have our work directed by Jesus.
We can work – even work hard – for a long time with no results.
But when Jesus directs our work, we see results
The story shows us that the worst excuse for not doing what God wants you to do is because you’ve been a failure in it in the past
Peter had to work with others to get the job done.
“Some will rather leave souls to perish than admit of partners in the sacred work.
It is an intolerable pride to think nothing done well but what we do ourselves; and a diabolic envy to be afraid lest others should be more successful than we are.” (Clarke)
8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
Notice that this is a tremendous catch of fish!

Peter confesses his failure; he is not even a good fisherman of fish due to his lack of faith. When Simon said, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord,” he was saying, “Lord you called me to be a fisher of men and I failed. I went back to fishing for fish — I thought I knew that kind of fishing better, but I find that I don’t! Depart from me. Let me alone. I am a sinful man. You should find someone upon whom you can depend.” The Lord, however, did not intend to get rid of Simon Peter. He was going to use him, and this applies to us also. All we have to do is recognize that we are not very good fishermen — recognize our failures and faithlessness. When we are willing to depend on Him, He will not put us out of the fishing business, and He will not throw us overboard. He will use us. This is an encouraging truth!

Success beyond their wildest dreams, by simple obedience to the command of Jesus. Now the result of the success to me is significant. When we have devised programs, and we put in all of the human energy, and the human effort, and we begin by the human effort to gain a response. You’ve got something that is working, you’ve got something that is attracting people. What do you do with it? You franchise it. You carry it out other places. You develop your success seminars. And you invite others to come and learn how to bait your hook, to make your lure more attractive. So you can gather more fish. But when it is the Lord doing the work, rather than developing your success seminars, and being all puffed up over what’s been accomplished. Like Peter you just sort of fall at the feet of Jesus and say:” Lord I am not worthy, depart from me Lord, I am a sinful man.”

Suddenly you’re aware of God’s work. You’re aware of God’s power. You’re aware of the presence of God, and that is always a humbling experience. No men who has stood in the presence of God can be proud. Standing in the presence of the Lord, conscious presence of the Lord, is always a very humbling experience.” Depart from me Lord,” Peter said,” I am a sinful man.”

And he was astonished, and all of those that were with him at the draft of the fishes which they had taken. And so also was James and John the son’s of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said onto Simon:” Fear not, for from now on you’re going to catch men.”
So when they brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed Him.

The Lord brought them to the peak, to the ultimate of success in their chosen profession, and then called them to leave it, to follow Him. Their little ships rowing to shore, waded down in the water by the load of fish. The dream of every Galilean fishermen, and from that point of success they Lord said:” From now on you’re going to catch men.” And they left all to follow Jesus.

Now in the other gospels they do not give us the background to the call of Peter and John. And it would appear from the other gospels that Jesus was just walking by the sea of Galilee, and He saw some fishermen mending their nets, and He said,” come, take up your cross and follow me.” Or,” come leave your nets and follow me.” And they dropped their nets, and followed Jesus, without even knowing Him, or seeing Him. That is not so. These men had already experienced the Lord, they knew the Lord. Jesus wasn’t a stranger to them. They knew Him. Now He is calling them to a complete commitment in following Him.

I believe that light of revelation began to dawn in Peter’s heart this moment,
which later was to burst forth in full revelation when at Caesarea Phillipi he will declare, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Peter’s response was to fall down at the knees of Jesus and say, “Depart from me for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”

  • In the recognition of who Jesus was came the recognition of what he was.
  • This is always true, you never truly see yourself until you see yourself in the light of Jesus and who He truly is.
  • Isaiah’s vision of the throne of God, “Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips.”
  • The result of Daniel’s vision of Jesus, “My beauty turned into corruption.”
  • You see a man who is proud and arrogant in his selfrighteousness, this man has never met Jesus. There ismore hope for a prostitute or drunkard to enter the kingdom of heaven than him.
  • It is not until you see yourself as a hopeless sinnerthat you will seek the help of Jesus to redeem your lost soul.
    Our problem is that we usually just see ourselves inthe light of each other, and in your light, I don’t look that bad.
  • In some light I don’t look too bad, say 40 wattbulbs. But to look at the reflection of yourself in bright light is often devastating.
  • So as we stand about and talk to each other, inthe light of each other we look pretty good.
    But let the light of Jesus shine, and we then behold the truth as every ugly flaw is exposed.
  • Jesus spoke of men not wanting to come to thelight because they loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.
    9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken;
    10 and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”
    11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.Peter’s reaction; the call of the four
    Remember that this was not their first meeting with Jesus, but this was the time when they made a full-time commitment to following after Jesus
    Do not be afraid is literally stop being fearful; it calms an existing fear.
    Peter was afraid of Jesus in the sense of holding Him in such great awe, but Jesus tells Him to put away that fear.
    God wants to relate to us on the principle of love, not cowering fear
    Because Peter was such an experienced fisherman, and because he knew how unfavorable the conditions were, he knew all the more what a great miracle this was.
    Clarke says that the word catch signifies to catch something alive.
    That is true evangelism; it isn’t to bring dead people into a building, but to bring real life.
    The Lord climbed into Simon Peter’s boat and asked him to push the boat out a little from the land. What a pulpit! I believe this illustration is both figurative and suggestive. Every pulpit is a “fishing boat,” a place to give out the Word of God and attempt to catch fish. He had told these men that He would make them fishers of men. This does not mean that you and I will catch fish every time we give out the Word — the disciples didn’t — but it does mean that the one on board must not forget the supreme business of life which is to fish for the souls of men.They forsook all and followed Him – the catch itself was not as important as what it showed them about Jesus – that He was much more than a carpenter, and this caused them to follow Jesus
    Jesus chose unlearned, unlettered men.
    But He taught them.
    You don’t need fancy degrees and education to start out in ministry.
    But you must enroll yourself in the University of the Word of God.
    These four (as well as Moses, David, Gideon, Matthew, and Paul, among others) were called while already at work – God’s call comes while we are busy!Simon Peter did catch men. Remember how well he did on the Day of Pentecost — the Lord’s answer to Peter is certainly significant. Three thousand souls came to Christ after his first sermon! Peter was fishing according to God’s instructions.

    There is another lesson here. Do you know there is another fisherman? Do you know that Satan also is a fisherman? Paul tells us that in 2Timothy 2:26, which says, “And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” Satan has his hook out in the water too. God is fishing for your soul, and Satan also is fishing for your soul with a hook baited with the things of the world. You might say God’s hook is a cross. The son of God died upon that cross for you. This is God’s message for you. By the way, whose hook are you on today? You are either on God’s hook or Satan’s hook. Either the Devil has you or God has you. There is no third fisherman.

  • Lessons that this story teaches us.
  • Using our own skills, knowledge and efforts we can be a totalfailure. We can fish all night and catch nothing.
  • In the ministry I think of all the years that I fishedand caught comparably nothing, as I used all my skill and efforts.
  • Yet what a vast difference when our lives becomedirected by the Lord. “At Thy word, I will do it.”
  • You cast the nets in the same place,
  • You cast the nets the same way.
  • The only difference is that they are now sofull that you have difficulty trying to draw them in.
  • What makes the difference?
  • The difference is your service is now directedby Him.
  • It is no longer doing it out of your experienceand skills.
  • The net result is that He gets the recognition andglory for the success.
  • Faith acts upon the word of the Lord, that may even be contraryto my experience and understanding. “At Thy word, I will do
    it.”
  • Peter’s past experience would keep him from trying tocatch any fish at this time of day.
    1. Peter following his own instincts would have gone homeand gone to bed, and try fishing another day.
    2. We need to see the Lord in truth to see the truth aboutourselves.
    3. Standing in His light I see myself in the true light.
    4. The truth is I am a sinful man. I need cleansing, Ineed forgiveness, I need redemption.
    5. God can use anyone in His service of catching men for Him.Common people like fishermen, mechanics, grocery clerks, housewives.1CO 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, [are called]: 1 CO 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 1CO 1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, [yea], and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:1CO 1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.