The Book of Luke, Jesus Catches Men, Part II Ė Lesson 50
Luke 5:1-11, And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, 2And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 3And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simonís, 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. 4Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5And 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. 6And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 7And 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. 8When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesusí knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 9For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: 10And 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. 11And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.
On another occasion later in the book of Luke we hear the Lord Jesus Christ command others to follow him and these others offer excuses to delay their following because the command was given at what was thought of as an inopportune time.
Luke 9:59-62, And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 60Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. 61And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. 62And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
And here in this passage in Luke 5 we would naturally think Jesus choose to command Peter and the other fishermen at the most inopportune time.
They had just finished a long night of fishing.
They had caught nothing so most likely they were not in the best of spirits.
It is rare for a fisherman who has caught nothing to be in the best of spirits. They had spent all their time with no fruit to show for their labors.
They had just finished washing their nets and were looking forward to getting some rest at their homes and taking care of their own need to rest.
You would think that Jesus would have more consideration for their physical well being wouldnít you?
But he chose this very time when they were least likely to appreciate doing what Jesus commanded them.
But it is obvious that Jesus Christ was more interested in the discipleís spiritual well being than in their physical well being.
Remember this as a principle of the word of God.
Godís priority is always spiritual over the physical.
The martyrs of history demonstrated this principle over and over again for they willingly sacrificed the physical for the spiritual.
And we see in this example that the disciples were exercised in this principle.
But this testing of faith brought great dividends for we see in Peterís response a recognition of what he truly was for he says in Luke 5:8, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!
Falling down at Jesusí knees was an act of humility and worship on the part of Peter.
Peter had been ministered to in an area of his own expertise and he had been found wanting.
Because of this he recognized the power in this man Jesus.
Although the previous miracles of Christ had impressed Peter and even made him agree to follow Jesus from time to time, this revealing of Jesus Christís power over the fishes of the lake hit Peter like a hammer.
For he was a fisherman by trade and knew how humanly impossible it was to catch fish successfully in the lake in the early morning hours.
The Lordís revelation of power in the field of Peterís own particular calling ó the trade of a fisherman ó made a very powerful impression on him.
He now saw the Lord Jesus in an entirely different light.
Jesus was Lord, and he was but a sinful man, and not worthy of being in the presence of such a man.
But by seeing Jesus clearly he saw himself clearly.
That is exactly what the word of God is designed to do if you let it do its work in you!
You cannot be saved until you see yourself as Peter saw himself and he only saw himself when he truly saw Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus Christ only saves sinners!
Everyone is a sinner but only a few recognize themselves as such.
In verse 5, Jesus was referred to by Peter as ďMaster,Ē but now in verse 8 he is Peterís Lord.
The change of terms that Peter used shows us the great increase in Peterís grasp of Jesusí greatness and power.
Peter not only confessed the greatness (and perhaps the holiness) of our Lord, but also his own sinfulness.
What was it that caused Peter to recognize his sinfulness at this particular occasion as Christ performed this miracle.
What was Peter now confessing as sin?
Peter saw his resistance and his reluctance to obey the Lordís command to let down the nets as sin.
What he said was based on a lack of faith.
Didnít Peter know more than this carpenter from Nazareth?
Peter thought he was the expert, but now he sees that Jesus is Lord of the sea as well.
Peter doubted that they would make a great catch, and feared that his efforts would be wasted.
It is interesting to note how valuable Peter thought his time was compared to how valuable it was to obey Christís command without doubt.
This is what keeps men and women from following Jesus, a wrong understanding of the value of time.
You only go around once in life, donít you?
Time is valuable isnít it, and you canít waste it in serving God, can you.
But now Peter saw the Lord Jesus Christís sovereignty over the sea and by seeing this he saw his own sin in thinking that his time was his and not Godís to use as he commands.
It is interesting what conclusion this clarity brings Peter.
Peter draws nearer to His Lord than he ever had before and in this nearness he tells the Lord to depart from him.
Peter could have departed from the Lord Jesus, but his love for Him and His growing awe prohibited him from doing so.
He could not draw apart, but only nearer.
That is the interesting thing about the realization that you are a sinner.
There is only one place to go and that is to God and that is what Peter did.
When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesusí knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
If sin were to drive a wedge between him and his Lord, it would have to be the Lord who departed, not Peter.
So far as I can tell, this is the first time in Lukeís gospel that any man has seen so much in one of our Lordís miracles.
Previously, people have marveled at His power and teaching, but no one has concluded, as Peter did, that Jesus was so righteous, while Peter was so wretched.
The revelation to Peter that he was a sinner is a basic necessity, and it appears that Peter was the first man in Lukeís Gospel to become aware of this fact.
But this is what the miracles of Christ were to bring in the heart of a man.
They were to point out the greatness of Jesus Christ and the unworthiness and sinfulness of the man.
Jesus Christ responded to Peter with these words: