The Book of Luke, Jesus Catches Men, Part III – Lesson 51
Luke 5:10, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.
Peter had just confessed to being a sinner, and testified to the greatness of His Lord.
Jesus responded by a command not to fear, and a promise that he would become a fisher of men.
I think Peter’s fear was in three areas, and that the words of Jesus Christ to Peter give him hope in each area:
First, I believe that Peter was fearful of leaving his life’s occupation of fishing to follow Jesus.
There is a contrast between the first two verses of our passage and the last verse.
The story begins by describing the great crowd which had surrounded Jesus, while the fishermen are off in the distance, tending to the washing of the nets — tending to their business.
When the story is ended by Luke in verse 11 the disciples leave everything and follow Jesus:
Luke 5:11, And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.
On several occasions, over a period of time, Jesus has invited Peter and his fishermen partners to follow Him.
It is obvious that the invitation of Jesus Christ to follow him was not just for a short period of time.
So these men understood the implications of Jesus’ invitation, but were afraid to leave their life’s work to follow Him wherever He went.
But to follow him wherever he went was what Jesus Christ desired for these men for Jesus ministered far more widely than just around the Sea of Galilee, where they always fished.
What was it that caused Peter and the other three fishermen to fear leaving their boats and their jobs?
What would make you fear?
It is no different today when the call goes out to follow Jesus and that call may include leaving your occupation.
What is the first consideration that comes to mind?
How am I going to provide for my family?
So don’t you suppose that that same fear welled up in the heart of these disciples.
There was the very practical matter of providing for themselves and their families.
The longer these men were with Jesus, the more they wanted to be with Him all the time.
But you see, they had responsibilities and financial obligations to consider also.
I can just see Peter, telling his wife (whose name is never given in Scripture — I wonder why?) that he would love to be able to go with Jesus when He traveled to more distant places, but there was the business …
“But Peter,” she may have protested, “How can we pay the bills?”
The children need clothes, the roof on the house needs repairing, and you know that we have to care for my mother.”
Of course, these were very practical matters.
But this miracle with the fish demonstrated in a very remarkable way that Jesus was not only to be trusted as Israel’s Teacher and Prophet and Miracle-worker, but also as their great Provider.
With this remarkable catch, Jesus showed that He was able to provide.
He was sovereign in the matter of work, as well as in all other matters.
With this miracle Peter’s fears about following Jesus disappeared.
He understood that Jesus Christ was sovereign over the fishes of the sea and therefore could meet their needs at all times.
Did they walk away from this great catch of fish that Jesus had brought them too?
I think not.
Let all things be done decently and in order and I think they took this gift and did what fishermen did with fish in those times and used them to provide for their families.
In addition to fears of how they were to provide for their families I also believe that Peter and his partners were fearful about commencing an entirely new vocation.
Would you fear if Jesus Christ called you into a new vocation?
Not only did the call to follow Jesus require these fishermen to leave their fishing boats, it required them to commence an entirely new occupation.
And so to perhaps lessen this fear Jesus likened the new occupation of the disciples to the old.
In both cases they would fish.
There was some kind of continuity in their tasks.
It would seem that the first occupation had prepared them for the second.
But even more than this, Jesus gave these men the promise that they would be fishers of men, a promise which in the light of their huge catch, included being very successful fishers of men.
How easy to leave one task for which you have just set a new world’s record, to take on another, which you are assured you will succeed at.
How gracious was our Lord’s dealings with these disciples.
Third, Peter was fearful because he recognized his sin and the Lord’s righteousness.
The words of Peter, “Depart from me, Lord,” reveal his awareness that a holy God cannot have intimate communion with sinful men.
While Peter had no desire to leave His Lord, He did not know how he could enter into an even more intimate relationship with the immensity of his sin.
Our Lord did not fully answer Peter’s objection on this count, He only assured him by telling Him to stop fearing.
Fear not literally means to stop being fearful.
That is a command of God to the Christian for fearfulness indicates a lack of faith in God’s care and provision.
Peter’s fear of the Lord because of his great power causes him to call upon the Lord to depart from him for he can never be worthy.
But according to Jesus Christ there is no need to fear for he intends to provide for closeness and communion with God by his death on the cross in Peter’s place.
Jesus gives no details about this but his command to not fear should be sufficient.
Jesus Christ provided the great haul of fish in spite of Peter’s doubt and Jesus Christ can provide for communion of the sinner with God also.
So Peter indeed has no reason to fear whatsoever nor do any of us either.
We have gone over these verses carefully and have seen what happened and who made it happen.
These eleven verses deal with the matter of following Jesus.
We see by Peter’s reaction that following Jesus began when he realized his own inadequacies.
Jesus Himself said that He came to seek and to save the lost, that He came not to the well, but to the sick.
So it is only those who are inadequate in themselves who follow Christ.
The self satisfied and those who do not realize the dire straits they are in will not follow Christ.
The one area in which Peter felt confident and capable was as an expert in fishing.
It was no accident that the night before Jesus came to the shores of Galilee was a complete failure as far as fishing was concerned.
Jesus had designed that night of failure to be followed by a lesson of his provision.
Peter failed on his own, and was only successful when he obeyed Christ’s command.
Failure is the first step in following Christ.
Those who follow Him have found themselves to fail on their own.
Those who feel sufficient will not turn to Him.
This passage teaches us that following Jesus requires faith in Him as one who is sufficient in all things.
If Peter found himself to be a failure at fishing and a sinner in life, He found Christ to be sovereign, righteous, and all-sufficient.
Jesus Christ is the only all-sufficient One.
He is sufficient in forgiveness of sins and of righteousness;
He is sufficient in providing for our physical needs.
To follow Him is to be assured of eternal life.
To follow Him is to be assured of divine guidance and direction.
To follow Him is to be assured of all that is required to do His will.
When Peter realized who it was who called him the faith to follow him came easily.
He saw Jesus Christ clearly and thus he saw himself clearly and the only conclusion was to forsake all and follow him.
Another thing we can learn from this passage that faith in God is based upon overwhelming evidence.
God does not expect us to have faith based upon nothing.
Jesus Christ knew that these men were in turmoil not knowing what to do in regard to following Him.
They, like all men were weak and unbelieving.
But Jesus did not force them to follow him with threats or incentives.
Jesus performed a miracle that their faith be kindled.
For these men, an overflowing of fish, torn nets and two sinking ships was all the evidence they required to see the sufficiency of the Savior.
We are given so much that we might believe.
We are given the resurrection, we are given to see the testimony of the lives that have been transformed by his power.
Finally, we have the testimony of the Scriptures themselves, including this very account in the gospel of Luke.
We have ample evidence on which to base our faith.
Our problem is that we do not meditate these matters often enough.
Our greatest problem as a church and as individual saints, I fear, is that we lack faith, and this is due to an inadequate grasp of the greatness of our God.
Let us let our minds and hearts dwell long and deep upon Him.