Our Scripture today is a true classic. You will recognize it as soon as your read it. Now that I live on the Outer Banks, all the fishing stories in the Scriptures have a different meaning for me. I am surrounded by boats, water, fishermen, nets, and beautiful ocean sunrises.
(Okay, in complete transparency, it is my friend Michelle who gets up at o-dark-thirty to capture the sunrises, but I live vicariously through her photography. When I get up. Two hours later.)
Luke tells the story of Jesus encouraging the fishermen to go back out to the water and try again to catch some fish after a long day of fishing with no results. This is a little like that time your Dad told you to try again when your legs, arms, or brain were too tired from your fruitless exertion as you attempted to do something. Whether it was learning how to ride a bike after countless falls, pitching poorly in the eighth inning in the Georgia heat, or having to re-take your SATs, Dads are always pushing frustrated kids to try again. Jesus is just like that here:
Luke 5 (The Message)
1-3 Once when he was standing on the shore of Lake Gennesaret, the crowd was pushing in on him to better hear the Word of God. He noticed two boats tied up. The fishermen had just left them and were out scrubbing their nets. He climbed into the boat that was Simon’s and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Sitting there, using the boat for a pulpit, he taught the crowd.
The fishermen only scrub their nets at the end of the day, so you know they were over it. Finished, pooped, kaput … they were DONE.
4 When he finished teaching, he said to Simon, “Push out into deep water and let your nets out for a catch.”
So now Jesus tells them not only to try again, but to push out into deep water, which meant rowing farther and harder than they had all day. I’m sure there was an eye-roll or two among them. Didn’t he notice that their nets had returned empty? Come on, Jesus!
5-7 Simon said, “Master, we’ve been fishing hard all night and haven’t caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I’ll let out the nets.” It was no sooner said than done—a huge haul of fish, straining the nets past capacity. They waved to their partners in the other boat to come help them. They filled both boats, nearly swamping them with the catch.
Oh, my goodness. Pushing out to the deep as Jesus instructed resulted in a bounty of fish so great, it took two boats of tired fishermen to haul it back to shore.
8-10 Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell to his knees before Jesus. “Master, leave. I’m a sinner and can’t handle this holiness. Leave me to myself.” When they pulled in that catch of fish, awe overwhelmed Simon and everyone with him. It was the same with James and John, Zebedee’s sons, coworkers with Simon.
10-11 Jesus said to Simon, “There is nothing to fear. From now on you’ll be fishing for men and women.” They pulled their boats up on the beach, left them, nets and all, and followed him.
Where is God calling you to ”push out into the deep?” Is he telling you to move beyond your comfort zone to do his will or his work? Do you feel unworthy, like Peter? We all do. But this story is a great reminder that when you are obedient to God’s instruction to ”try again,” he will multiply your blessings.
All you need to do is follow him.