The Miracles of Jesus
February 23, 2021
The first miraculous catch on the Lake of Gennesaret
When I was much younger and living in Chicago, I would often attend concerts at McCormick Place’s Arie Crown Theater. Over the years, I saw musical stars like The Guess Who, America, The Carpenters, Kenny Rodgers, Billy Paul, and Earth, Wind and Fire.
The concerts were always enjoyable, and sometimes quite loud. Have you ever thought about what it would be like if your favorite musical star or band was on stage, but there was no electricity? And there were no massive speakers, just the band playing or artist singing?
You might hear the drums, but electric guitars would be a non-starter. And, singers would only be heard by the first few rows of the crowd.
In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 5, we find Jesus speaking to and teaching a crowd by the Sea of Galilee’s shore. The gathering keeps getting larger and larger. Finally, Jesus turns to His acquaintance Simon Peter, as He boards Peter’s fishing boat, telling him to let the ship out from the shore. When they are an unknown distance from the shoreline, Jesus continues to preach to the people at the water’s edge and beyond.
How can they possibly hear Jesus speaking? He has no microphone, no speakers, and certainly no bullhorn. Here’s what Jesus does have, according to one of the world’s foremost Biblical scholars, N.T. Wright:
“Along the lakeshore close to Capernaum, there is a sequence of steep inlets, a zigzagging shoreline with each inlet forming a natural amphitheater. To this day, if you get in a boat and push out a little from the shore, you can talk in quite a natural voice, and anyone on the slope of the inlet can hear you clearly – more clearly, in fact, than if you were right there on the shore with them. Jesus was simply exploiting the geography of the area and the ready availability of the boat.” (N.T. Wright, Luke for Everyone, Westminster John Knox Press.)
This is not the main emphasis of the story. Still, I do find it very interesting from a historical and geographical point of view.
After Jesus was done preaching, He told Simon Peter to row the boat out into deeper waters and let the nets down. Now Peter and his crew were tired from fishing all night (they had caught nothing). Peter said this to Jesus but did as Jesus asked as He was a friend and had healed his Mother-in-law.
Peter and his crew let down the fishing nets. Even though nighttime fishing was generally more successful, they caught so many fish. Peter had to call his other ship over to help. Both ships began sinking from the weight of so many fish.
When they all finally got back to shore, Peter asked Jesus to leave, as he was a sinner and not worthy to be in His presence. But Jesus surprises Peter and his men. Jesus says, “From now own, you will follow me, and I will teach you how to catch men.” The image of catching a man or woman with a net or fishing rod is the image that comes into my mind when I read this passage 😊
But Jesus is talking about something else. It was time for Him to expand His ministry and throw a far-reaching “net” to reach more people with the Good News. Jesus didn’t want to leave anyone out.
Interestingly, this miraculous catch and Jesus telling Peter that He will make him a fisher of men came into play even more profoundly in the book of Acts. On the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:41, Peter preached to crowds of people, and 3000 were baptized and began following Jesus that day.
That was quite a catch for someone who, three years earlier, was a fisherman. How can God use you to be a better fisher of men? Why not ask Him? Then wait and listen for His answer.
Dear Jesus. You not only taught your first disciples and followers how to “fish for men,” but You have left instructions for us to do the same. Help us to follow your final instruction in Matthew 28:19-20 when you said:
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations. Baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”