In last week’s post I wrote about Jesus’ willingness to reach into our lives to bring healing and wholeness. It was a snapshot of who Jesus is and how he thinks about us. This week I want to follow up with another snap shot and continue to build a deeper, more accurate picture of Jesus. The story is about an interaction between the apostle Peter and Jesus.
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 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 catch men.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Peter was a fisherman by trade. He knew fishing – he had been doing it all his life. It was Peter’s source of income and security. He obviously worked hard at it and sometimes struggled in it. He wasn’t always successful but he kept at it and did the best he could. It was the only way he knew how to survive. The last thing he needed that day was some “carpenter” telling him how to do his job. That’s like having a plumber telling a doctor how to operate on someone. Jesus’ word to Peter to “put out into deep water” caught Peter by surprise and, in Peter’s mind, totally out of line with his expert knowledge and recent experience. I can imagine that Peter was more than a little annoyed with Jesus’ request. I’m sure Peter mumbled something like “whatever” under his breath.
And yet he was willing to go along with Jesus, perhaps giving Him the benefit of the doubt. Peter’s expectations were low and his faith small. But remember, Jesus didn’t ask Peter to have faith. He simply asked Peter to do something for Him – to obey. We seem to have the idea that whenever God asks us to do something we are to be excited about it and full of expectation of what God is going to do. Often that may be true, but God’s work doesn’t depend on our enthusiasm, instead it depends our willingness to just do what He says. The results may be more than we could ever envision.
Peter found this out too. When he aligned himself with Jesus – when he obeyed – Peter got more than he had bargained for or could even have imagined and, in the process, made a life changing discovery. The great haul of fish represented a substantial amount of wealth for Peter and his partners. In that moment, Jesus proved to Peter that he could take of him, his family and all his needs. Jesus’ message to Peter was simple. “Your security does not depend on your skill, experience, knowledge or expertise. It depends on me.”
This same message applies to us today. Instead of trusting in ourselves and our own resources, we can trust Him. Instead of struggling to figure things out on our own, we need to shift focus and do what He says. Instead of depending on ourselves, how about taking Him at His word. Instead of grumbling, how about saying, “because you say so” to God. I’m not saying that we will be financially independent, but I am saying that we can be at peace with ourselves, with the world and circumstances around us and with Him. Our life focus changes from trying to take care of ourselves to showing others what life can be like free of fear – we become fishers of men. So when you ask Jesus if you can trust Him, His answer is, “how many fish do you need?”