The Call

The night before had been fruitless. A full night of fishing, and they had nothing to show for it. These two sets of brothers, partners in business, had pulled their boats to shore and began the process of washing and mending their nets, readying them for the next evening. I imagine that tempers might have been high; there was certainly a sense of frustration among them.

The crowds were unusually large that morning. News of His miracles had spread quickly. And His teaching, they had never seen anyone teach like this man. He didn’t rely on the opinions of others, but taught with an authority all His own. The crowds pressed, and soon what little room there had been on the lakeshore was gone. He looked out on the water and saw some familiar faces in a small fishing vessel. He made his way through the water toward the boat as He called to the fishermen for the first time that day.

Simon was ready for a break from the monotony. And here He was. He always came at the right time it seemed. Like when his mother-in-law fell sick with the fever. A few simple words from Him and she was better, even up and serving them, exercising her gift of hospitality. So Simon welcomed this man onto the boat. The mending of the nets quickly lost their importance as Simon listened to His teaching.

Time seemed to stand still as Jesus spoke, and soon it was nearing evening. As the crowds dissipated Jesus went back to shore, and then called back to the burly fisherman for a second time, “Go out a ways, where the water is deep, and cast your nets.”

The frustrations of the previous night quickly rose back to the surface. “We already spent a night of fishing with no results... but since you asked us to, we’ll do it.” Simon and his brother, Andrew, rowed out a ways and cast their nets over the side of the boat. As they circled the boat, feeding the nets into the water, they suddenly became heavy with fish. Simon and Andrew looked at each other and started pulling in the load. The nets, which had not been completely repaired, began tearing as they strained against the weight of the fish. It was soon obvious that there was more fish than the boat could handle.

“James, John, bring your boat, we need your help!” Simon and Andrew called to their partners in the other boat. James and John had not realized what Peter and Andrew were doing, but quickly made their way over to them and began hauling fish into their boat as well. They had never seen a catch like this. There wasn’t time for words, but John gave Peter a quick, inquisitive glance; Peter nodded toward Jesus. Instantly John understood.

The boats were nearly sinking as they rowed to shore. As they spilled the fish onto the beach, Peter was overcome with emotion. Falling at the feet of Jesus he said, “Get away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” The others there were amazed as well.

Jesus reached down, gently touched Peter, and, looking into his eyes, calmed his fears as he called him for the third time that day. Only this time the call extended also to those who were with him. “Do not fear. You used to catch fish, in this same way you will catch men!”

The meaning of His words was clear. Perhaps these fishermen recalled the beginning of the Shepherd’s Psalm, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything that I need...” With a few simple words, Jesus had shown them that when they were with Him, they would never be in want. Immediately these four strong, smelly fishermen left the biggest catch they had ever seen lying on the beach, and followed Jesus. They were changed, formerly fishermen, now they had a new calling, to be fishers of men. Little did they know that their catch of men would be even greater than the fish they left on the shore of the Sea of Galilee that day.

From Luke 5:1-11