Luke 5:1-11 – Jesus Calls the First Disciples

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Luke 5:1-3

  1. Jesus, and several of the first disciples, lived near Lake Gennesaret, or the Sea of Galilee as it is better known.
  2. Working as a fisherman was a tough job in Jesus’ day. At night, people fished, and during the day they cleaned and rinsed the nets in preparation for the next fishing trip, and then sold or salted the fish. This was the kind of work the fishermen were doing when Jesus came by.
  3. Jesus did not depend on a church with a pulpit to teach the Word of God. What matters to Jesus is not the form of the message, but the content. In the same way, we should be careful not to get too caught up in traditions so that they become more important than the gospel itself. Also important to always be prepared to preach the Gospel wherever you are, whether in a church or in a boat.
    1. Today it is more normal for the preacher to stand up and the listeners to sit down. But in Jesus’ day it was the other way around, the preacher sat down and the listeners had to stand.
    1. Sometimes when Jesus was teaching, there were so many people pushing that Jesus had to get in a boat to get some distance and speak so that everyone could hear. Probably this boat was barely 30 feet and I can see Jesus sitting on the railing, dangling his legs in the water while he teaches the people standing on the shore.

Luke 5:4-5

  1. Simon had been generous to Jesus and lent him his boat, and now Jesus is giving back by blessing him with a large amount of fish!
    1. When we give what we have to God, he will first use it to demonstrate the gospel, and then he will bless us abundantly.
    1. Do you have a gift or talent? Are you a good singer? Do you have more money than you need? Are you good at writing? Tell God to be happy to use what you have, and you will be both used and blessed.
  2. It seems almost comical that an experienced fisherman would take advice from a carpenter on how to fish. Simon could have replied with a sneer that Jesus was just a carpenter who didn’t know anything about fishing. But however skilled and knowledgeable we may be about our possible talents, it is nothing compared to whether God may bless us.
    1. Being a disciple of Jesus sometimes means, like Simon Peter, obeying when Jesus gives instructions that seemingly go against better judgment. Because Jesus sees the bigger picture and is able to perform miracles, obedience will pay off in the long run. But for now, it may mean furrowed brows and questioning comments.
  3. Simon could also have replied that they were tired after a whole night’s hard work and that it was pointless to go out again, especially during the day when the fish weren’t biting anyway. But Simon chooses, against his better judgment, to listen to Jesus anyway. Sometimes God can put something on our heart that surpasses all human understanding. Then it’s not wrong to test this and see if God has a blessing to offer if we believe in him and his word.

Luke 5:6-7

  1. Simon could have said no to Jesus because he had both more knowledge and more experience than Jesus in fishing. But Simon listened to Jesus despite the circumstances, and was richly rewarded for his faith.
    1. If Simon had not believed in Jesus, or blamed his tiredness for not being able to do so, he would not have received this great blessing.
  2. It is also worth noting that Simon would not have been able to salvage this great blessing if he had not worked with the other boat.
    1. In the same way, today we should not be envious when another church is blessed with revival, but rather try to help each other.

Luke 5:8-9

  1. Jesus had previously healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law (Luke 4:38-39), but that miracle did not result in Simon fully giving his life to Jesus. Perhaps Simon had a hard time really understanding the healing miracle because he was ignorant about sickness and healing. But this fishing miracle seems to have touched him to the core because, as an experienced fisherman, he knew how miraculous it was.
    1. It’s one thing to be amazed when Jesus does a miracle with someone else, but quite another when Jesus does a miracle with myself.
  2. In verse 5, Simon addresses Jesus as “Master”, which roughly means “boss”. After experiencing this miracle, Simon now addresses Jesus as “Lord” in verse 8. After experiencing a personal miracle, Simon’s view of Jesus changes and he begins to understand who Jesus really is. Amidst the splashing of fish and shouts of joy at the miraculous big catch, Simon stills himself and bows his knee to Jesus.
    1. But the problem for Simon is that the clearer he sees who Jesus is, the greater the contrast he feels between Jesus’ holiness and his own sinfulness. When Simon truly understands that Jesus is a man of God, he considers himself not worthy enough to be in God’s presence and therefore wants Jesus to leave his boat. Peter seems to believe that God is a distant holy and angry God who would rather punish sinners than restore them.
      1. But at the same time there seems to be a longing in Simon to share in the holiness of Jesus, a longing that prevents Simon from walking away from Jesus himself. Instead, he sits and asks Jesus to leave, perhaps hoping that he will not leave at all.
    1. Fortunately for Simon, Jesus looks beyond Peter’s sin with loving eyes and offers an opportunity for restoration instead of punishment. God is aware of our sin but has come not to punish us but to forgive us and create something new. When Simon saw only his own sin in his encounter with Jesus, Jesus saw instead an opportunity for restoration.
    1. Simon’s reaction in his encounter with the Lord is to ask Jesus to leave because he believes that only worthy men of God can serve God. But there is a difference between being a sinner and denying it and being a sinner and confessing it. This humble approach to Jesus means that Simon now learns that Jesus has not come to earth to judge sinners but to save and forgive sinners. When we give our lives to Jesus, he does not share in our sin, but we share in Jesus’ holiness. Acknowledging that we are sinners in need of grace is a prerequisite for ministry rather than an obstacle.
    1. Simon identified himself as an unworthy sinner, but Jesus saw in Simon an opportunity to transform Simon from a sinner into an instrument of the kingdom of God. It is never our own self-image that defines our potential to serve God. In this way, Simon’s awareness of his own weakness became the strength that God could use to lead Simon to do God’s work.

Luke 5:10-11

  1. Although God is worthy of our fear and we should be afraid of his mighty power, he does not want to relate to us humans out of fear, but out of forgiving love. While we may “should” be afraid of God, we don’t have to be.
  2. Simon’s mission from now on would be to fish for people, and this event taught Simon a lot. When Jesus gets to lead, it always leads to some kind of blessing.
    1. In the same way, today we too should “fish for people” by listening to Jesus’ teaching, putting our gifts and talents at God’s disposal, and listening to Jesus as he directs us towards the blessing.
  3. It seems that Simon and the other disciples left the miraculous catch of fish on the beach when they followed Jesus. The financial blessing of the fishing miracle was nothing compared to the privilege of following Jesus and becoming his disciple.
    1. Does this mean that everyone who wants to serve God must leave their current job and work full time for God? No. Jesus taught many on the beach, but it was only Simon Peter whom he called, at least on this occasion, into full-time ministry. And even though Simon left his job as a fisherman, Paul, for example, continued his job as a tentmaker. There are many different ways to serve God, and you have to ask God for guidance.
    1. In conclusion, we can see that this little text is about Jesus’ call into full-time service for the kingdom of God. But why did Simon Peter receive this call? Well, first of all, he was willing to listen to Jesus’ directive; secondly, he was humble and bowed before Jesus; and thirdly, he was ready to leave everything and follow Jesus wholeheartedly.
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