One of the bigger challenges we face at work is sensing the relevance of Jesus to our work. It is easy to pray, “God, please help me with my plan today.” However, the answer is often: “Here, I have a new plan for you.” The apostle Peter can relate. Let’s walk together through the interaction between Jesus and Peter in Luke 5:1-11:
Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat.
Jesus had a crowd, and it was pressing in. He gets into this empty fishing boat and asks Peter, who had just finished a long night of work, to take the boat out a little bit from shore. Certainly at this moment, a weary Peter may have been tempted to feel that this man who seemed to talk for a living did not understand the business world or the hard realities of his life. We know from his later words that Peter had been fishing all night and had caught nothing. It had been a very disappointing day. Peter, perhaps somewhat grudgingly, agrees to do what Jesus asks.
When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.”
A tired Peter shows his weariness and disappointment. Jesus asks them to go back out into the water. This comes after they just finished washing their nets and had called it a day. It is daytime and the fish are probably not looking for food or close to the surface. Peter knows his craft and this seems like an even bigger imposition than the first request to use the boat. He agrees, reluctantly.
When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.
This is an enormous, abnormal catch. The nets are full to bursting. They have to enlist the help of the second boat. Once they fill the boats, both begin to sink. I doubt Peter had ever seen a catch like this, let alone one that occurred at a poor time for fishing.
But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.
Notice Peter gets the point immediately. He does not look at the number of fish and ask Jesus to become partners with him in his family fishing enterprise. Peter knows this is a miracle. He is deeply convicted because he now sees his prior attitude in light of who asked him. Previously, he called him master, a term of general respect. Now he calls Jesus lord, a term of submission and reverence.
And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”
Jesus calls Peter on a new mission. Instead of chasing fish, he will plead for the hearts of men to be reconciled to God. Be prepared that God will change our plan significantly along the way. He does not just have power—He has a better plan, too.
When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.
This last sentence is key. They do not simply hear Jesus’ call—they follow Him. We have the same choice. You can be confident that the God who shaped heaven and earth understands you. He understands your business. He understands the reasons why we are driven to do what we do. The question is, do we trust Him enough to follow Him? If we do, we will find that there are greater purposes and joys than the things we so often set our hearts on. We might ask God to leave us in shame, but Jesus comes to us and gives us a greater mission. Jesus will not turn away from our sin. It is for this reason that he came—Immanuel, God with us—to take away our shame and to give us a new life and purpose. As we remember Christmas and prepare for a new year, lets follow Him: to the manger, to the cross, and to the life beyond.