We’ve all heard the stories of the kid on the playground that was the last to be picked for basketball. Maybe it was gym class and dodge ball. We all know the stories and for some of us these are not happy memories. Some of us know why we were the last to be chosen. We lived in the real world. We knew that we were slow, clumsy or couldn’t even touch the net let alone the backboard or rim. We also understood that the old worn words of encouragement “but you were picked” really didn’t help.
As we continue to journey through the life of Jesus as He walked the dusty roads toward the cross, we come to a day in His life when He picked some men to be on His team. The story is found in Luke 5:1-11. As you read this passage consider the men Jesus picked and weigh yourself against them. See how they, at least one of them, saw themselves and also how Jesus saw them. As you do, keep in mind that Jesus is still picking people to join Him in the work that He began on His journey to the Calvary.
This story begins, “One day as Jesus…” (v.1). How uneventful is that? But this is also a great reminder when linked to the rest of the account. Reading through the passage the reader knows that Jesus is about to pick His first disciples. As monumental as that was it happened in an in descript kind of way. No fanfare, no press release, just one day as Jesus was traveling. That in and of itself is encouraging; one does not need a life-altering event or some sign written in the sky to understand that Jesus wants people to follow Him.
Though the day is unknown the place is not. Jesus was by the Sea of Galilee, or as Luke called it the Lake of Gennesaret. A crowd was gathering and Jesus always took advantage of that. He began to teach them as the crowd began to press in. So, He asked one of the local fishermen, a man named Peter, if He could use his boat as a teaching platform (vv.2-4). Peter agreed, they climbed into the boat and pushed away from shore.
Here enters another point of encouragement. Contemporary believers reading stories like this one may be tempted to glamorize Peter and his occupation. He was a successful businessman with a fleet of boats, well at least two (v.2). He was a hard worker and knew how to catch the fish that made his business thrive. Really? Was Peter like that or was a man who made his living pulling nets, cleaning fish and carrying the smell of his trade? As well, according to him he was not always high man on the catch list. “When he [that would be Jesus] had finished speaking, he said to Simon [that would be Peter], ‘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.’” (vv.4-5) Now, here’s the point, Jesus is about to ask Peter to come with Him and fish for men. Peter was not the best. But Jesus calls on normal, average people to work with Him. The Apostle Paul said it this way: “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)
There’s one more part of this story that is essential to see. After hearing Jesus’ teaching that day and then seeing the miracle of the catch, Peter comes to a realization. What miracle of the 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.” (vv.5-7) I wonder if this was mentioned to remind us that serving Christ is not based on our abilities but His. Peter worked all night and caught nothing. Jesus asks him to work and in one moment he accomplishes more than he had possibly ever accomplished on his own.
Now back to the one more part and what Peter realized. After the miracle Peter realized that he was in the presence of the holy and he was anything but. “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’” (v.8). Peter was afraid. What business did he have being on the same boat as the Lord? To this Jesus responded, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” (v.10) Luke writes, “So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” (v.11)
How encouraging is that? Jesus is not looking for perfect people but people willing to leave it all and follow Him. These Jesus will make into the followers He desires. Remember Jesus said to Peter and the others, “…and I will make you….”
Have you heard Jesus’ words and seen His miracles? Do you see yourself as you really are? Are you ready to follow Jesus? Then follow Him, He is calling. He will make you as you ought to be. He will make you into an effective servant, a fisher of men.