The story of Jesus teaching from the boat in Luke 5:1-11 occurs early in his earthly ministry. He preached to the crowd, and then he asked Peter to do something that did not make sense to Peter. He asked Peter to go fishing in the daytime. As someone who had fished in this particular area for most of his life, Peter knew that the best time to catch fish was at night, because during the day the fish went deeper into the water to keep cool and stay out of the light. Peter didn’t catch anything the night before. He was hesitant to obey Jesus at first, but eventually he obeyed Jesus’ request. The result was a catch so big that he needed help from other fishermen to bring it ashore.
Obeying orders leads to success. For example, several years ago General Dwight Eisenhower, the man who led the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II, told an interviewer how the decision was made to go on June 6, 1944. He wanted to go on June 4th or June 5th, and June 4th, 1944, was a beautiful, starlight night. The commanders of the Allied troops were gathered with General Eisenhower at their command post in England. The chief army weatherman was there also, and he told General Eisenhower that gale-force winds and high tides would be hitting the Normandy beaches by the next morning.
General Eisenhower had a decision to make. Should he believe what he saw-a beautiful, clear starlight night-or should he listen to the man who knew. His answer was “No go”, even though it would have cost him his first choice and prolong the wait for the troops who were waiting on the ships. On the next day-June 5th-the weather was stormy, just like the weatherman had predicted. The weatherman came in and said, “We’re going to have improved weather tomorrow with moderate winds and tides. It’s going to be a good day to go.” General Eisenhower had to decide to go by his senses or by the man who had the authority. The general paused for about 30 seconds, and then he said two of history’s most famous words-“Let’s go”. The room was clear in two seconds, and the rest is history.
Peter also had a decision to make. Would he obey Jesus’ request? Workers like Peter usually hate to obey orders unless they recognize the authority of the person who is giving the order. I know how they feel, because when I worked at a local lumber mill, I had many bosses that I hated to take orders from, but I still obeyed their orders because I respected their authority even if I didn’t respect them as people. Peter respected Jesus and therefore he obeyed Jesus’ orders. The result was a huge reward. When Peter saw the catch of fish, he saw a miracle. He knew that he was in the presence of a holy person, and he was ashamed because of his sinful nature. If we obey Jesus, he will clean us, make us whole, and give us the tools we need to do his work in our world.
God often calls us to do things that are often simple for us to do but important to him. The simplest tasks we do for God can result in a revelation, discovery or even greater faith. Obedience to even the simplest of orders results in great rewards from God. All we have to do is look at the staff who work at a nursing home. They do God’s work by taking care of the residents’ needs, and their reward is the satisfaction they get from a job well done.
Peter obeyed Jesus’ order to become a fisher of men. After Jesus ascended to heaven, Peter became the leader of the disciples and the early Christian church. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church traces its origins to Peter. Peter’s small step of obedience led to the miracle that changed his life. God prepared Peter for the call just like he prepares us for our call. He allowed Peter to endure failure by not catching any fish. He also allows us to endure personal failures.
Once we realize who Jesus is, we can see ourselves in a new light, just like Peter saw Jesus in a new light when he realized who Jesus was. Sometimes that sight is too much for us to handle, but we need to see ourselves in that light so we can be changed by God and be prepared by God for the work he wants us to do. God shook up Peter because he wanted to shake up the world. He can also shake all of us up so he can shake up the world-and boy does it ever need to be shaken up. When we obey God, we will become fishers of men, and the catch we will get will be even greater than Peter’s great catch of fish.
- Ron Hutchcraft, “Your Hard Times”. Retrieved from http://www.hutchcraft.com
- Exegesis for Luke 5:1-11. Retrieved from http://www.sermonwriter.com
- Ray Pritchard, “How God’s Will Can Mess Up Your Life in a Good Way”. Retrieved from http://www.keepbelieving.com