“When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’” Luke 5:8.
I spend time fishing in the summer in Maine.
I found a pond that I like and fish there exclusively.
I fished as a kid growing up in Turners Falls in the Connecticut River, which was down the hill from where I lived.
When I moved to Worcester and then on to college I stopped fishing. Later I moved to Hamilton (MA), and, even though there was a lake across the street, I did not do any fishing.
When my wife and I started summering in Maine, my interest in fishing returned. I knew little about fishing and had little equipment, but I was “hooked.”
I bought some equipment and began to use a canoe that had been in the family.
I found a place seven miles from our summer house that was hard for others to get into (narrow channel led into it) and began to fish there regularly.
There were few places to park and if more than one other person was there you were out of luck.
When I first went into this pond, I fished in the middle of it with worms mostly in the middle of the day. I would regularly see another fisherman in there at later hours who was fishing along the edges of the pond.
He was from New Jersey and I remember, as if it happened yesterday, the day we got together because we were both leaving the pond at the same time. He asked me how the fishing was going and asked me what I was trying to catch. I said that I was trying to catch bass but had not been able to. He told me that the bass are along the edges, mostly in the shallow water. He said that he was catching all kinds of bass and he told me the type of bait he was using which was not worms.
I have now been fishing in that pond long after the last time I ever saw the guy from New Jersey. What he told me back then is still true after all these years.
That brings me, finally, to today’s story from Luke 5. Peter was the guy from New Jersey. He fished for a living. He knew how it was done. You fish close to the shore and you fish at night. Everyone “knows” that.
Along comes Jesus. Peter had recently witnessed Jesus taking a fever away from his mother-in-law. He had probably seen others healed as well. But Peter had gone back to fishing. And then Jesus came back into his life, but this time in Peter’s space.
Jesus used Peter’s boat as a place to preach from. NT Wright in his commentary on Luke writes that there were coves where someone in a boat could speak to a bigger audience and could be better heard from a boat.
When the speaking was done, Jesus made a strange request to Peter (the guy from New Jersey). In a daylight setting, Jesus told Peter to take his boat into deep water and fish.
The night before Peter and his expert friends had fished where and when you were supposed to fish and struck out entirely. Now they were being told to fish when and where you weren’t supposed to fish.
Here comes an important part: “But because you say so, I will let down the nets,” says Peter.
Peter must have doubted the validity of Jesus’ advice. How could Jesus know more about fishing that he did?
BUT Peter did what Jesus told him to do!
I must do what Jesus tells me to do in the space I’m in. He knows the folks in my midst better than I do. When things get challenging, He doesn’t say, “You take it from here.” He knows my situations better than I ever will.
And sure enough, when Peter and his friends obeyed God, a miracle became a reality. They caught fish like they had never done before, at a time and place they had not caught them before. Jesus could work in their situation because they did what He wanted them to do.
I don’t think that Jesus revolutionized fishing on the Sea of Galilee long-term that day. I am sure that the way to catch fish returned to being done in close to shore and at night. BUT on this occasion Jesus wanted to teach men, who would become disciples, that He was God and Someone they should follow.
I need God’s intervention in every part of my life. How can He work where I exclude Him? He can’t!
Peter is a terrific role model in this story. He did what Jesus told Him to do despite surely having doubts.
Peter let go of his “I’ve got this one” thinking and put His trust in Jesus instead. What a way to be!
Conclusion: I cannot attempt to run any of my life. I need Him involved in every second of it.