Luke 5:1-11, On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him (Jesus) 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, (that's Peter) 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 had met, and called, these fishermen before this event. In fact, just a few verses before this we were told that Jesus went into the house of Simon and healed his mother-in-law of a fever. John tells us that he and Andrew were followers of John the Baptist and they were the first to follow Jesus. Then they brought their brothers, James and Simon, to meet Jesus. Jesus had become well known throughout the countryside even before he had disciples. In those early days Jesus seemed to have the freedom to preach in the synagogues throughout the region. Now it was time for him to put together his band of disciples.
Jesus did everything with a purpose in mind. We need to remember that Jesus himself is God. Always has been, always will be! When he walked on earth among men he looked at their hearts not at their heads. Jesus knew what a person would be long before they found out. He knew that Simon, whom he called Peter, was a blustering, bumbling man who was committed thoroughly to following God according to the law. Jesus knew he would have to take this man through many tests and trials before he would be ready to take the place our Father God had assigned to him in the kingdom. Peter would return to fishing more than once and always come back to Jesus. Peter had a very obstinate spirit but underneath he was teachable. And Jesus certainly knew how to teach him.
That day, when Jesus chose Simon Peter's boat to speak from, Peter learned what was perhaps his first lesson in discipleship. Before anything else could be done Peter needed to see himself clearly. And he did!
Peter saw himself clearly. What most people don't realize is that we are born in spiritual darkness and more than anything else we need spiritual light. Looking back over their years together John could see that Jesus was…
The light that shines in the darkness. Listen while I read, John 1:4-5, Speaking of Jesus, John said, In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
The life of Jesus is light for mankind. At times Jesus described himself as the light of the world. Philip P. Bliss wrote a beautiful hymn nearly 150 years ago and the first verse goes like this: The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin; the Light of the world is Jesus! Like sunshine at noon-day, his glory shown in, the Light of the world is Jesus! Come to the Light, 'tis shining for thee; sweetly the Light has dawned upon me; once I was blind, but now I can see; the Light of the world is Jesus.
Light serves a very important purpose. Without it we would all be blind. With it we can see. We know that is true of physical light and its certainly true of spiritual light as well. We are born in spiritual darkness and we cannot see spiritually what we are until the Light of the World comes into our life as he did for Peter…
Revealing the hidden person. When the light shined in Peter's life it revealed the hidden person that Peter needed to see in order to be saved. Isaiah had had a similar experience. Listen while I read, Isaiah 6:1-5, In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
At first glance, Isaiah's experience seems to be more dramatic, and more spiritual, than Peter's. But the two experiences spoke to the hearts of the two men perfectly. Isaiah was a priest and the context of his spiritual life was the temple. He needed to be shown the Lord of hosts in his Temple. When he saw the angels surrounding and worshiping the glory of God he was immediately convicted of his lost condition. Looking on the glory of God caused him to realize that he was a man of unclean lips and he lived among a people of unclean lips. He knew he deserved to be cut off from God forever because he was a sinner.
On the other hand, Peter's experience was by the seashore because he was a fisherman. God spoke to him through a net full of fish rather than a temple filled with glory. Peter's fishing boat was the place where he met God. In fact, he realized that he was standing in the presence of the Son of God when that net was filled with fish. Looking at that net caused him to realize that he was a sinful man. Somehow, when God moves in a person's life the first thing they know is their utter failure. And…
Then, confession is called for. Both Isaiah and Peter knew immediately they had to confess their condition before God. I'm so grateful that God's Word tells us in 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
There was nothing Isaiah could do about his condition. He could not cleanse his unclean lips. Oh, by force of willpower he could stop saying and possibly even stop thinking unclean words. But he could never erase the uncleanness that had gone on before. Only God could do that! The symbol of his cleansing was a coal from the fire on the altar that was before God.
In the same way, Peter could do nothing about his condition. Instinctively, he knelt at the feet of the only one who could help him — the Lord Jesus! There was no burning coal to touch his lips. There was only the words of Jesus. "Don't be afraid. From now on you will fish for men." Jesus knew who his men were before they knew they were his. In fact, their names were written in the Lamb's Book of Life before the foundation of the world along with all the names of all of those who will follow Christ. Peter's sinful condition would be taken care of on the cross! In the meanwhile…
Peter watched Jesus' ministry. Jesus' method of discipleship was mostly show and tell! For Peter, it was a matter of following Jesus because…
He was one of 3 or 4 men closest to Jesus. There are several incidences that show how closely Jesus kept Peter, James and John. One of them is recorded in Mark 5:37-42, Jesus had been summoned by Jairus, one of the Jewish leaders, whose daughter was dying. As Jesus went with him he was interrupted by a woman who needed healing because she had been sick for a long, long time. While the interruption was going on someone came to tell the man that his daughter had died. It must've been frustrating for him. Jesus assured him that he should not be afraid, only believe. Then he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child's father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.
Repeatedly Jesus took Peter, James and John with him when he had a special ministry to preform. He was showing them things that they would have never understood if he simply told them. Peter was closest to Jesus and when the time came…
He saw Jesus in his glory. Jesus took them aside to the top of a mountain and as he prayed he was transfigured before them. Peter tells us about it, 2 Peter 1:16-18, For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
What a magnificent event! They had seen so much already! The dead were raised, the blind made to see, the lame walk and lepers were cleansed. The hungry, by the thousands, were fed with a handful of bread and fish. Each of these events happened more than once to drive home the truth about Jesus. They had seen the storm calmed and Peter had even walked on the water. And then, having seen all that, they now saw Jesus glowing in the presence of Moses and Elijah! Peter saw Jesus in his glory and…
He saw Jesus in his agony. Three times Jesus told them that he would be taken, beaten, crucified and raised again. But before those events he went into the garden. Matthew tells us about it in Matthew 26:36-40, Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?
During that prayer time in the garden Jesus was in such agony that he sweat great drops of blood. He was not afraid of the physical pain he was going to endure. He was going to experience something beyond the wildest imaginations of the angels. He was going to become sin for us so we might become the righteousness of God in him. He was not going to sin! But, instead he "became" sin for us. Peter would say later, "He himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.”
Peter was closest to Jesus. In each of the lists of the disciples, or apostles, Peter is always mentioned first. Every time Jesus took aside some disciples for private teaching Peter was with them. He was closest to Jesus and he saw Jesus in his glory as well as in his agony.
For better or worse, Peter was a talker. He quickly became the spokesman for the group boldly announcing opinions and asking questions. He was one of the few who spoke openly with Jesus. When he did not understand...
He asked for explanation. Clearly, the disciples did not understand Jesus' teaching. Even when he spoke very plainly they had a hard time grasping the true meaning of what he said. So Peter spoke up! At one point Jesus said it wasn't what goes in the mouth that makes you unclean but what comes out of the mouth makes you unclean. Listen while I read, Matthew 15:15-20, But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.” 16 And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”
While the others stood around shaking their heads Peter boldly said, "Explain". He really wanted to know and was not afraid to ask. I think sometimes we're afraid to ask for explanations from God. I'm sure that God wants us to understand. So, when you're faced with a spiritual concept that you cannot grasp follow Peter's example and ask God for an explanation. James also said that we don't have because we don't ask. And even when we ask we ask self centeredly.
He asked for clarification. Jesus had told the disciples how to deal with conflict in the body of believers. He told them what to do when someone sins against one of them. The goal was to stop the broken relationship that was about to happen and regain a brother. Apparently Peter had heard that one should forgive seven times so he asked for clarification. Matthew 18:21-22, Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.
I suppose Peter might have thought he was being generous in offering forgiveness seven times. He must've been startled when Jesus said, "seventy times seven." By the way, I don't believe Jesus meant that we were to keep a tab and forgive 490 times but not 491. I believe he meant that we were to forgive, and forgive, and forgive so long as we have opportunity. After all, he has forgiven us many times more than 490 times. Yes, Peter asked for explanation, he asked for clarification and…
He promised to be faithful. Jesus and his disciples were walking from the upper room to the garden of Gethsemane. Listen while I read, Matthew 26:30-35, And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.
Peter was very bold! He would not deny Jesus! He would never fall away! I'm sure he was positive that what he said was true. However, he had never been put in a situation like he would be in a few hours. He would be confronted by a servant girl who accused him of being with Jesus. He denied it! Then he was confronted again. Again he denied it! What an opportunity! He was asked twice to tell them about Jesus and he denied that he knew him. The next time he was confronted he proved that he was not a follower of Jesus by cursing and swearing! Then he heard the rooster crow, as Jesus had prophesied, and he went outside and wept bitterly.
Have you ever been accused of being a follower of Jesus? That's a good thing! If you were put on trial for your faith is there enough evidence to convict you of being a Christian? I hope so.
Peter was a common fisherman who became an ambassador for the Kingdom of Heaven. Peter learned who Jesus was early in their relationship. Have you learned who Jesus is? Have you committed your life to him? If not, today is the day of salvation. You have no promise of tomorrow.
All scripture quotes are from:The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.