Luke 5:1-11 (ESV)
1 On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
Jesus’ popularity was increasing, and the people “checking him out” began to press in on him to hear what he had to say. So Jesus taught from Peter’s boat to avoid being crushed by the multitude. This occurred at the Lake of Gennesaret, also known as the Sea of Galilee. Calling the Sea of Galilee a lake seems appropriate, as it is only 13 miles long by 8 miles wide. Though it is the largest freshwater lake in Israel, it doesn’t look like what one would imagine when thinking of a “sea.” Jesus hopped into Peter’s boat while Peter washed his nets on shore. When Jesus finished teaching, he told Peter to get the boat into deep water and let down his nets. Strangely, the carpenter’s son gave fishing advice to the fisherman. Peter must have thought, “Are you kidding me? We just washed the nets. Besides, the best fishing occurs at night.” But in faith, Peter did what Jesus asked and caught so many fish that the nets were tearing. Peter’s fishing partners came and helped him haul in the catch. The two boats were nearly sinking from all the weight.
When Jesus told Peter to get back out on the lake and start fishing again, the request must have sounded absurd. But Peter responded in obedience to Jesus and said, “At your word I will let down the nets” (v. 5). What a picture of total trust! This whole proposal made no sense to Peter, but he was willing to do things God’s way instead of his own way. When Jesus led Peter to the fish, Peter responded, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Peter realized the enormous difference between himself and Jesus, and he fell to his knees. Let’s never forget that Jesus knows what we need, and he knows how to give it to us, even when things don’t make sense in our minds. In what is Jesus asking you to trust him with right now? Does he want you to hang in there with a tough relationship? Or trust him to provide what you need financially? Or press on in an area of service? Even though you may feel weary like Peter, thinking, “I’ve been at this all night,” be ready to say, “At your word, I will let down the nets.” Jesus knows what he is doing.