How different were the people of Capernaum from those in Nazareth! They heard the words of Jesus and believed! Many were healed of their suffering. Can you imagine the excitement the people felt as they watched people being set free?
Early the next morning, before the sun began to lighten the eastern sky, Jesus went off to a quiet place of solitude where He could pray to His Father in Heaven. Pretty soon, the multitudes of people from the towns were up looking for Him. Imagine them coming to pound on Peter’s door! Simon Peter and his brother and their companions went out to look for Jesus. When they found Him, they said, “‘Everyone is looking for you.’” They might have thought that this would make Jesus hurry back to the crowd. Hadn’t He come for that very reason? They were to be fishers of men!
But Jesus said, “‘Let us go somewhere else-to the nearby villages-so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’” The other cities and towns needed to hear about the Kingdom of God, too!
So Jesus set out with his disciples. They travelled all around the Sea of Galilee. The Lord would teach in the synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven. He healed the diseases of all the people who came and cast out demons. Can you picture these glorious days when so many were being set free from their burden and pain? Imagine how the region must have been turned upside down with stories of this miracle worker! Did they also talk about His Words? Did their fascination end with the things He could do, or did His messages about the Kingdom of God sink in?
After touring the region of Galilee and preaching in the synagogues of all the Jewish villages and towns in the area, Jesus returned to Capernaum with His disciples. Peter and Andrew and James and John all returned to their fishing business. But the people did not stop coming to Jesus. One day, a whole multitude of people had gathered by the shoreline of the sea. They were pressing up against Jesus, listening to Him as He taught the Word of God. Simon and Andrew were standing nearby washing their nets. Their empty boats were lying beside them.
Jesus got into one of the boats and asked Simon Peter to take Him out into the water. Jesus began to teach the crowd again from the boat. When He was done, He turned to Peter and said, “‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.’”
On this day, Simon Peter was a very weary man. He was also discouraged. He had already spent hour upon hour throwing His nets into the water, but they hadn’t caught anything. He said, “‘Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but at your bidding I will let down the nets.’” What respect Peter had for this teacher of his. What willingness to obey. Already he had grown into a man of faith, but soon, his faith would grow even more.
They pushed the boats out on the water threw their nets back into the sea. As he watched the network of ropes sink down in the water, do you think Peter had any hope of catching something? He knew the Sea of Galilee like the back of his hand. It was where he grew up. How many nights had he fished on its waters? How many hours did he sit under the stars, praying for a catch so he could take care of his family? How many days were spent under the burning sun washing nets? He would obey his Master, but he knew the patterns of the life of the Sea. It would take a miracle to catch a fish that day.
As Peter and his men watched the nets, something remarkable happened. The empty sea was coming alive with slippery shining little creatures! Suddenly, their nets were full of fish! As they tried to drag the bulging nets onto the boat, they realized it was impossible! The catch was too big! Imagine their shouts of laughter and excitement!
They called out to James and John, who were still on the shore. They were Peter’s partners, so they jumped into their boat and came out to help. They pulled the bulky nets onto both boats. As the fish poured out, they began to fill the boats up and weigh them down. They became so heavy that the boats started to sink! What a wonderful problem! Did the people on shore stand and laugh with delight at the abundance?
But as Peter stood in the boat, knee deep in fish, he wasn’t laughing. He understood the Sea, so he understood the impossibility of what happened. He had already seen that this Master of his had power over evil spirits and diseases. He was a brilliant teacher who spoke with commanding authority. But now it was clear that he had power over nature, too. Peter was filled with the kind of purified awe that made him totally aware of his own shame and lack of faith. He turned to the Lord in the boat. He fell down at Jesus’ feet and said, “‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!’”
Peter’s fellow workers were all just as amazed as he was. They watched on as Jesus looked down at Peter and said, “‘Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.’”
Jesus was calling these men once again. Would they follow Him as He proclaimed the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven? Would they give up their lives as fishermen to walk with Jesus wherever He went? The men brought the boats to the shore of the sea. From that day on, they left everything to follow Jesus.