by Tad Lindley
Did you ever have one of those commercial fishing periods where it was so bad that it wasn’t worth waiting in line to sell the fish, so you took them home or gave them to a friend waiting in line to sell? In the Bible there was a guy who had such a bad period that he didn’t catch a single fish.
Worst period ever
Simon Peter had been fishing all period, and had literally caught nothing, but weeds. And as the sun came up (it was a nighttime period), they unloaded the net on the beach and anchored out the boat. Then he set about cleaning the seaweed out of his net and spreading it out to dry. In the old days, nets had to be stretched out to dry every day so they wouldn’t rot. His intent then was to go home and sleep.
Next thing he knew, there was a guy standing on the beach by his boat calling out to him, “Hey friend, row me out from the beach a little bit.” It turns out that Simon Peter agreed. The man was Jesus, and after Peter rowed him out a bit and set the anchor again, Jesus began to preach to the crowd on the beach. When Jesus was done preaching, he turned to Simon Peter and said, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a draught.”
Simon answered him, “Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.” (Luke 5:1-5)
Jesus inconveniences Simon Peter
You need to understand that Simon had already cleaned his nets and set them out to dry. It’s not like it would be if Jesus was in our boat. We’d already have the net in the boat, all we’d have to do is to throw the buoy and set the net out. In order to fulfill Jesus command to make one more drift, for Simon it meant going to the beach, loading the net back into the boat, and would also mean he would have to take it out of the boat, clean it all over again and hang it up to dry again.
Four words set the stage for a miracle
Knowing that he would have to go through the whole process again and as tired as he must have been from fishing all night, Simon said these amazing words: nevertheless, at thy word. Let me upgrade that to modern English: “even though it seems like an impossible thing, because you are asking I will try it anyway.”
And so it was that as foolish as the command of God must have seemed, Simon obeyed it. When you read on, you see that when they dropped the buoy and set the net out, it sunk. As they were pulling it in, the weight of the fish was tearing the web. As their gunwales got closer and closer to the water line, Simon realized that they had more fish than they could carry without sinking. He got on the VHF and called for help. Both boats were deck-loaded. They even had to put in the scupper plugs to keep from sinking.
I’m not worthy to be blessed by God
When the gravity of the situation hit Simon Peter, he told Jesus, “Depart from me for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” He realized that he had sowed sin all of his life and now, the Holy God, Jesus, had stepped into his life and given him a blessing he could not contain.
Jesus rejected his rejection and said, “Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” And the Bible makes us know that from that day forward, Simon Peter gave up fishing and followed Jesus.
A miracle almost missed
Simon Peter almost missed his miracle. Imagine if he had said instead, “Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: no way will I go out and fish again, I’m going home and getting some sleep.” Not only would he have missed the best catch of his life, but he would never have become a disciple of Jesus. It would have been some other man who preached the first Christian sermon ever preached in Acts 2. It would have been some other man who was the first to preach Jesus to the Gentiles in Acts 10.
Fortunately Simon Peter did not refuse Jesus. Instead, he said, “Nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net.” Because of that, he became one of Jesus’ right hand men. You see Jesus wasn’t going to the Sunday school classrooms and Bible colleges to find disciples. He was simply looking for sinful, uneducated men like Peter who were willing to say, “I’m a sinner, and I’m tired, but if you say it, Jesus, I will do it.” It is because he was willing to surrender his own comfort and will to God that God was able to use him in great ways. When God calls you to step out of your comfort zone, will you be ready to say, “Nevertheless, at thy word”?
Reverend Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.