Peter is one of the most important characters in the New Testament. While John is widely regarded as the most devoted of the disciples, and the Bible sometimes refers to him as “the disciple that Jesus loved,” Peter served as an unofficial spokesman for the band of 12.
Peter was the one who often spoke up first when Jesus asked hard questions. Peter was the one who was so overcome with emotion on the night of Christ’s arrest that he pulled out a sword and almost fought an entire band of Roman guards.
Peter was the one who stood up on the Day of Pentecost and preached with such authority that 3,000 people were saved.
None of those things would’ve happened without the first interaction between Peter and Jesus. Not only did the events of Luke 5:1-11 change Peter’s life, but they also give us God’s model for evangelism today.
You’re in Position
Luke 5:1-3 (NIV)
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
This part of the story often gets overlooked. There isn’t much going on in the earliest parts of this tale. On the surface, Jesus asking Peter to push out a little from the shore doesn’t seem like anything important.
However, when you know what the Lake of Gennesaret looks like, this makes more sense. The lake had a mountain range behind the shore, so when Jesus asked Peter to push the boat out a bit, He did so because the mountains would provide a natural amplification of His voice.
We know that Christ had full control over everything, so He could’ve made Himself louder any way He chose to. He chose to let Peter be a part of the process.
Peter was in the right place at the right time, and Christ used him. When we make ourselves available to God for His service, we’re in the right position to be an active part of His Kingdom.
It’s Not About Convenience
Luke 5:4-5 (NIV)
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water, and let down the nets for a 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.”
Once Jesus was done preaching, He told Peter to take his boat out into the deep water. The only problem with this was that Peter and the men who worked with him had been fishing all night.
They had caught nothing and had already started the laborious process of washing the nets. They were tired, likely sore, and frustrated. The nets were heavy with the weight of the water, their backs ached, and they just wanted to go home.
However, Peter put his convenience on the back burner because he recognized that there was something about Jesus that he had to listen to. He put the nets down again, and what happened next would change Peter’s life forever.
Our call to share the Gospel with others isn’t about our convenience. Instead, it’s about fulfilling God’s purpose for every believer.
Getting Maximum Results
Luke 5:6-7 (NIV)
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.
When Peter did what Christ told him to do, he ran into a problem that he had never experienced before. His nets caught so many fish that they began to tear.
Once he managed to signal his partners, James and John, and the people on their boat to come and help, the haul became so heavy that the boats began to sink.
As a commercial fisherman, this was both a problem and a blessing. Obviously, catching that many fish was a good thing. However, no one wants to be on a sinking ship. Peter quickly realized that this interaction wasn’t just about fishing.
Even if he didn’t have a full understanding of what was happening, he didn’t panic.
This part of the story teaches us that unity is at the heart of God’s model for evangelism today. Peter and the men in his boat weren’t capable of handling all the fish, so he called for help. God wants us to work with other believers to truly expand His Kingdom.
Your Resume Doesn’t Matter
Luke 5:8 (NIV)
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man.”
Peter is never presented as a flawless man in the Bible. For every great act of boldness that we read about in Peter’s life, we read about a failure, often a public one.
Did he stand and preach on the Day of Pentecost? Yes. Did he deny knowing Christ three times on the night of His arrest? Yes. He performed miracles in the Book of Acts, but he also spoke out of turn with such a vehemency that Christ rebuked him and called him Satan.
Peter recognized his own issues, which is why he immediately started telling Christ that he was too sinful to be in His presence. Peter’s resume didn’t matter, and neither does yours.
God’s call for His people to share His love with the world isn’t about what we’ve done before. Instead, it’s about what He can do when we submit our futures to Him.
Nets and Poles: What it Means
Luke 5:9-11 (NIV)
For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
The fact that Peter caught so many fishes in his net was indicative of what God had in store for his future. It’s certainly safe to assume that Peter caught multiple species in his net.
If there were so many fish in the nets that the boats started to sink, the fish were likely varied.
When you use a fishing pole, you put a piece of bait on a hook, throw the line into the water, and wait for a fish that is attracted to that type of bait to bite the hook.
The type of bait that you use to catch a trout isn’t the same type of bait that you use to catch a bass. With nets, none of that matters. You catch whatever swims into the net.
God’s model for evangelism relies on nets, not poles. God doesn’t just want one type of person. Instead, He has made the gift of salvation available to everyone who would believe in His Son.
The beautiful part of evangelism is that you can reach people that your neighbor can’t reach. Likewise, your neighbor can reach people that your pastor can’t reach. Cast the nets. God is able to add so many people to His Church that the nets will tear, and the boats will start sinking.
A Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father, help me to fully embrace Your model of evangelism. Today, I commit my future to You, and I cast my nets. Help me to be prepared for the people that You’re going to put in my path. In Christ’s name, Amen.