We know from John’s Gospel that Simon had already met Jesus (John 1:40-41), in fact Luke has already told us that Jesus had visited Simon’s house and healed his mother-in-law (4:38-39). What we read here is how Simon, usually called Peter, moved from being someone interested in Jesus, to being a disciple of Jesus. His steps of faith, repentance and commitment are ones we all should follow. The passage is available here
Jesus was speaking to the crowd, notice that Jesus’ words are described as the word of God (5:1), and it must have been a sizeable crowd because he had to get into a boat to get a little space. Simon and other fishermen, we assume his brother Andrew and James and John, were listening but also cleaning their nets. When Jesus finished speaking, he said something quite strange to Simon. He instructed him to get to the deep water and start fishing. It wa a strange request because Jesus was a carpenter whilst Simon a fisherman and fishing was done at night not during the heat of the day. Simon obeyed the command, not because it made sense in terms of fishing practise but because of the authority of the person who made the command. Faith is being obedient to the word of God, Jesus didn’t cause a few fish to jump into the boat in order to coax Simon into the deep water, he called him to just trust and obey. When Simon acted in faith things happened, they gathered a huge number of fish. God calls each of us to take him at his word, to be obedient and when we do, things happen.
Simon may have acted in faith but he was astonished by the results and this brought another response. The catch was so extraordinary that it caused Simon to consider who Jesus was and also to look at himself. He realised that he was in the presence of greatness and that he was sinful and unworthy, his words; “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” resonate with many of us. Jesus’ words must have come to him like cool water on a hot and dusty day; ‘don’t be afraid’. This is repentance from Simon; he is having a change of heart and a change of direction in his life.
Professional fishermen go fishing to earn money, so when Simon and the others left everything (5:11) it’s a big deal. They were leaving a large amount of money there on the beach; they were going ‘all in’. Jesus doesn’t call everyone to leave their employment, we are not all called to full time Christian work but we are all called to be full time Christians, to be ‘all in’ for Jesus and to be part of his mission to catch people. The same Lord who caused the fish to be gathered into the nets can cause people to be gathered to himself and he calls us to be his fellow workers.
We thank you Lord that you call mere human beings to work with you. Help us we pray to respond to your word with faith and obedience.