30: Fishers Of Men
After the evening in Capernaum in which Jesus had healed so many people, word had spread through the region. Early each morning people began to seek Jesus out, and they followed Him around all day. More and more people came to Him from all villages in the area.
One day, Jesus stood by the Sea of Galilee, near Capernaum. On this day, too, people crowded around Him eagerly. No one wanted to miss a word He said. They almost forced Him into the water.
There were two little boats on the shore near Jesus. The boats had just returned from a fishing expedition on the lake, and the fishermen were busy cleaning their nets. One of the boats belonged to Simon Peter, the other to Zebedee, the father of James and John.
Jesus stepped into Peter's boat. He asked Peter to row a few feet away from the shore and anchor the boat there. Sitting in the boat, He went on speaking to the crowd. Now the people on the shore could calm down, for they could all see Him clearly.
Jesus' voice resounded across the water as He spoke of the eternal blessings for which they all longed. It was completely quiet on the shore. The people were caught by Jesus' words.
He finally finished His address to the people at noon. The sun was high in the sky.
"Now go out to the deep water," Jesus said to Peter. "Put your nets in the water to catch some fish."
Peter was surprised at what he heard. Go fishing in the middle of the day? That was not a good time to catch fish!
"Master," he answered, "we worked hard all night long, but we caught nothing." He stopped suddenly, ashamed. He looked down and said, "But if You say so, we will set out our nets again."
Peter and Andrew raised the pointed sail. Peter took hold of the rudder and steered the ship to the middle of the lake, where the water looked blackest because of the depth. They set out their nets and waited. There were doubts in Peter's heart. Would they be able to catch fish during the hottest part of the day?
Suddenly he noticed that all the floats attached to the nets had been pulled down. The lines from the ship to the net were taut. He grabbed one of the lines so that he and Andrew could haul in the nets. There was so much movement and splashing that the water seemed to be boiling. He saw the silvery gleam of the fishes' scales as they flopped furiously back and forth.
The net was so full that Peter and Andrew could not lift it out of the water. They tried, and it began to rip.
The fishermen's hearts were pounding with excitement and joy. They shouted and signaled to the fishermen in the other boat. They needed help. They filled both boats so full with fish that they almost sank.
Finally the fishermen stood on the shore again. Amazed, they stared at their enormous catch taken in such a short time.
Peter was so ashamed that he hardly dared raise his eyes to look at Jesus. Had the Master seen all those fish in the depths of the sea? Then His holy eyes would also see the doubt and sin in the dark depths of Peter's heart!
Peter did not feel worthy to be in Jesus' presence. He fell down at His feet and cried out, "Lord, go away from me, for I am a sinful man."
Jesus laid His hand on Peter's head and said, "Don't be afraid. From now on your job will be to catch people." He said to the other fishermen, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
Fishers of men? Were they to go into the world, that great sea of nations, some day to catch people with the Word of God and bring them into His Kingdom? Would they become emissaries of Jesus and talk about the great things Jesus had done?
There was nothing that Peter and the others wanted morel Peter and Andrew, James and John tied up their boats on land. Then they left everything behind—home and family and even all the fish they had just caught—to follow Jesus.
From then on they gave up their work as fishermen. There was a much greater a more glorious calling awaiting them. If Jesus led them in that work, their net would surely be full again.