Jesus said to Simon, “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. 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. Luke 5:5-6
These two verses are found in the middle of a larger story. Jesus had been standing on the shore of the lake teaching a crowd of people in the early morning hours just as Simon Peter and his crew were ready to haul in after a night of unprofitable fishing. After the large catch of fish, Simon Peter realizes who Jesus is and hears his call to follow him.
But in the middle of this story of a Master Teacher meeting up with a common fisherman, are these two verses around which the rest of the story pivots.
All Simon Peter had ever known was fishing. He was partner in the family business. His father fished. His brothers fished. He’d watched it for as long as he could remember. He knew a good day of fishing meant money to support his family. A bad day of fishing looked like the one he had just completed–a boatful of empty nets. They had worked hard, his brothers and him, never giving up. Throwing their nets into the water over and over again, but with nothing to show for it.
They had to quit. The early morning hours were the worst time to catch fish because of the rising sun reflecting on the water’s surface. They might as well give up and go to shore.
Jesus stops Peter. Peter had heard about this man. Heard about how he went from town to town healing people and talking about heaven. “Put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch,” Jesus requested.
That’s crazy, Peter must have thought. This guy might be a Master Teacher, but he had a few things to learn about fishing. Besides, didn’t he care that Peter was exhausted? Didn’t he realize that people who knew Peter’s family crowded the beach? The last thing Peter wanted was to expose his father’s lack of success.
“Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But, because you say so, I will let down the nets,” Peter answers. I’m tired and ready for some breakfast, Peter says in this answer. But I remember who you say you are, Jesus, and I believe it’s true. So, since you are the one asking, I will do it.
Peter calls the command to the crew: Turn the ship around and start over. Jesus asked for the deep water. This could take a while. One more time, the net is thrown into the sea. Peter leans against the side of the boat and watches as the nets fill until ready to burst.
The same deep water. The same smelly fish. The same old boat. The same worn net. How come things were different this time? Because Jesus had come. He was God in the form of a man. The same God who spoke an entire universe into being. The same God who knew Peter and loved him enough to get in his boat and speak his name.
“Peter,” Jesus calls,” I have a dream for your life. I want you to accomplish the impossible. For me. I know you can do it because I am here. Keep fishing.”
And Peter did. One last time of sinking the nets into the deep. The last time became the first time. Peter spent his whole life fishing, but it wasn’t until Jesus shared the boat with him that he started to catch anything.
Catching God’s vision for his life.
Catching a glimpse of the world through God’s eyes.
Catching the faith that just maybe the impossible wasn’t so far out of his reach after all.
“I’m tired God,” Peter said. I’m worn out and discouraged, God. I don’t understand you. I’m not sure I really want you here in my boat Peter may have thought that day, but because you are asking, I will do it.
Of all the boats available, Jesus chose his. Of all the times for Jesus to show up, he chose the worst. Of all the jobs in the world, Jesus gave him the impossible.