5 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret,[a] the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
There, standing on the edge of the sea of Galilee was Jesus surrounded by so many eager listeners that they pressed in on him, crowding, suffocating, jostling. Jesus loves these people. He is not annoyed that they are nudging into his personal space. Jesus is glad that they are there at all to hear the word of the Lord; he wants them all to hear...but who can hear one man in such a crowd as this??
The designer of physics, of water waves and sound waves sees a way to share the ancient words with more than just the intimate few being pushed against him. Some fisherman, exhausted and drooping with disappointment...maybe even wondering how they are going to feed their families that day, are washing up their nets, caring for their equipment so that they can try again the next day. As a woman who has worked many a night shift, I can tell you how rough it feels to have a bad one. The lack of sleep feels like a weight pressing down on every single muscle, making the effort to finish up the last tedious duties difficult and clumsy. The glaring of the sunshine makes it feel like there is an entire sandbox trapped behind the bottom and top eyelids of each eye...and sometimes swirls up to cloud an already unfocused mind. The emotion that stems from failure compounds and overwhelms as exhaustion erodes self control.
These guys are tired; they are frustrated; they are fighting to clean and repair sodden nets that are tangled lumps of sandy rope. And Jesus steps into one of the boats and asks them to row him out a little ways. What did those fishermen think? Were they surprised that Jesus knew whose boat he had stepped into? Had they been listening to him speak? If they hadn’t been listening before, they were now his captive audience as he addressed the crowd, his words now drifting out over the water to the far reaches of the crowd.
Were the hearts of these men ready for something new? Did they fall in love with Jesus and his message as they listened that afternoon? Whatever Jesus had said throughout the day had convinced the far beyond exhausted fishermen to make another attempt just at Jesus’ “say so”. And did they ever receive payment in full for the use of their boat!
Jesus offered them wealth, a day when they could earn more than they quite probably ever had before, establish their business, take care of their families. Simon Peter, seeing all this, fell at Jesus’ feet...and spoke the words of a wise man in the close presence of holiness, of Godly perfection, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”
...and with a promise from Jesus to make these men fishers of men, “they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”
They left everything.
How have my hopes and dreams, the details of my life changed since I decided to follow Jesus? What did I have to give up?...and to what things do I still cling to so tightly that I lose a little bit of my focus on God with each clenching of my fists?? Tenth Avenue North sings a song called Empty My Hands that often becomes a prayer that wrenches my heart...and hopefully brings healing at the same time...when I find myself clinging to dreams that just might not be the same ones that God has for me.
These disciples took a chance on Jesus. They may have left all their material goods behind, but their hearts, oh, how their hearts would be filled!! May we all have hearts full of everything God has in store for each of us.