Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, [Jesus] asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:3-8 ESV)
Simon (also known as Peter) had been fishing all night and was not successful. It makes me wonder how desperate he must have been to get his business back on track. Did he have overdue bills that created a valley of debt for him? To work that hard and come up empty is quite discouraging because we understand how making ends meet can be very difficult, especially when the economy is in a downturn.
So here comes Jesus, into Peter’s boat, to teach a crowd all about God and the kingdom of heaven. Everything he says sounds great, but on the practical side of things it’s not putting money in Peter’s pocket or food on his dinner table. Did Jesus sense this from him? I am certain that he did because he told Peter to let his nets down again. Peter was an expert fisherman who knew the waters and his trade so well; if he did not catch any fish that day, neither would anyone else. In fact, he was out there all night to gain an advantage on the first catch, so it didn’t make any sense to keep on trying. Who was this man to tell him how to do his job?
But Peter obliged and his nets suddenly became full of fish, so much that the boats probably sank with the weight of the catch. That is when he recognized that Jesus not only helped his business, but also paid off his debts, financial and spiritual.
Oh, how guilty and embarrassed he must have felt in front of Jesus! When he fully comprehended what just took place, he humbled himself by confessing his sinfulness. But Jesus responded to him by saying, “Don’t be afraid.” Don’t be afraid because I am not going to punish you for having a bad attitude. I won’t even hold your sins against you. I love you and I am going to teach you how to be a fisher of men. Through you, I will start my church so that the entire world will come to know me.
Have you had a moment like Peter where the lights went on in your head and you realized what Jesus did for you? We all have our stories, or testimonies as we like to call them, and God uses them to first connect with us. Afterwards, he uses us to tell others about him. It is a simple word-of-mouth broadcast, but it is effective and world changing. So let’s continue to let our nets down and trust God to do his work.