When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
- Luke 5:4-11
“I groaned. I looked at John. We were thinking the same thing. As long as he wanted to use the boat as a platform to speak, that was fine. But to use it for a fishing boat – that was our territory. I started to tell this carpenter-teacher, ‘You stick to preaching, and I’ll stick to fishing.’ But I was more polite: ‘We worked all night. We didn’t catch a thing.’
“… All I can say is there is a time to question and a time to listen.
“It was quite a scene: four fishermen in two boats, knee-deep in fish, and one carpenter seated on our bow, relishing the pandemonium.
“That’s when I realized who he was. And that’s when I realized who I was: I was the one who told God what he couldn’t do!
“’Go away from me, Lord; I’m a sinful man.’ There wasn’t anything else I could say.
“I don’t know what he saw in me, but he didn’t leave. Maybe he thought if I would let him tell me how to fish, I would let him tell me how to live.”
- Max Lucado, The Greatest Moments
I am preparing a comedy presentation in a few months. I wanted to include a Justin Wilson fishing story. Justin Wilson was a safety man, turned to comedian, turned to Cajun chef on PBS back in the 80s. The following is my modified version of his story.
It seems that Thibodeau
and Boudreau were out fishing. They were
getting close to the Cajun limit. If you
are unfamiliar with the Cajun limit, you must understand that every state has
limits on how many fish or how much weight of fish that a person can catch and
keep in the same day. The Cajun limit
ignores that. The Cajun limit is that
point when, if you catch one more fish and you land it in the boat, the boat’s
gonna sink, I guarantee.
About that time, Thibodeau turned to his friend and said, “Boudreau, you found a fishing spot that is not just the best, but the very best. We need to mark this spot.”
Boudreau said, “I got just the thing.” He pulled a pen out of his pocket and drew an “X” on the side of the boat.
A little later, they went back to the docks. Along the way, Thibodeau said to his friend, “Boudreau, you sure are smart marking that fishing spot like you did, but this is a rented boat. What if we don’t get the same boat next time?”
The way the old joke ties into the story of Jesus and the four fishermen is that they had caught the Cajun limit in both cases. With Jesus’ miracle, both boats were about to sink, and it was the worst part of the day to go fishing. Fish swim down toward the bottom in the heat of the day. Besides, the fish weren’t hungry by evidence of returning after a night of fishing with empty nets. Maybe the temperature of the water had the fish in the wrong part of the lake.
The four fishermen could only listen and humor the Carpenter, who thought He knew something about fishing. Did the fishermen believe Jesus had a clue about what He was saying on the subject of fish? I think Lucado’s before story is pretty accurate. The Scripture above gives a mild protest, but they went through the motions anyway. When the fish started breaking the nets, they were too busy trying to gather fish into the boats to worry about how it had happened.
Have you every thought of what it meant for Simon to bow down before Jesus and ask him to depart? It meant that he had to lie down onto hundreds of fish that were flopping around.
Simon’s wife (since he had a mother-in-law, he had a wife.) smelled Simon’s clothing when he got home that night. “This will have to be soaked to get out the smell. You must have caught a lot of fish today.”
Simon must have replied, “Yes, we have never caught so much fish.”
His wife must have replied, “We can buy that new cloak I have admired at the market!”
Simon must have shaken his head at this point. “No, we left the fish in the nets, on the boat. Instead, we followed Jesus.”
Not many people focus on Luke 5:11. “So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” They left everything and followed Jesus, including their great catch of fish, possibly enough fish to pay for their needs for the rest of the year – all in one cast of the nets.
Instead, they followed the One who would see to their needs for the rest of their lives.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.