That day, as always, a large crowd gathered around the young rabbi, new on the scene. Amazed at his wonderful teaching, they sought him out wherever he went. And now that news of his miracles had spread, the throng pressed against him even more, nearly backing him into the Sea of Galilee. So Jesus, boarding Simon Peter’s boat, requested, “Row out a little way from the shore.”
It was early morning. Yet Peter, tired from a long night of fruitless fishing, complied. He knew this rabbi, and knew there was something different about him. He’d been there when the water turned to wine. And he’d been awed, frightened even, at seeing Jesus drive the merchants and money-changers from the temple. Here was one with power and authority. One worth listening to.
So though weary, and possibly discouraged, Peter rowed away from the shore. Glad to have a front row seat.
Pleased at being near the teacher who somehow drew him. “This Rabbi is special,” Peter thought, “and definitely sent by God. No one could do the miracles he does unless God sent him. And he’s not just lining his own pockets either, like our religious leaders do.”
But as great as wine from water is, he concluded, it wouldn’t line his own pockets either. He desperately needed a good catch. Times had been hard lately. So even after seeing the Lord’s miracles, Peter had returned to his boat. Back to earning a living, the only thing he knew to do.
And then, when he’d finished teaching — that’s when the Lord said, “Row out into the deep and let your nets down to catch some fish.” The Lord knew fishermen mostly worked at night. Maybe he’d even seen Peter’s empty boat come in and knew they’d fished all night in vain.
Yet Peter, perhaps catching the Lord’s intense gaze, decided to obey. And going against his fisherman’s instinct, rowed out into the deep, his mind racing. “This is crazy! Everyone know the fishing’s better at night! And yet, there’s something about this teacher…”
Or perhaps, before he could think at all, he was calling for help, the nets breaking beneath the weight of the fish. And seasoned fisherman that he was, Peter knew there was something miraculous about that catch. Just think of it! Surely the largest ever seen in those parts!
That marked a turning point for Peter.
He had just pulled to shore the greatest catch of his career, enough to keep his family for a good while. Success was his! Comfort now within reach. But he didn’t seem to think of that at all.
He’d caught a glimpse of Christ’s true identity.
And in his delightfully spontaneous way, the burly fisherman threw himself at Jesus’ feet, knowing he wasn’t good enough to even be in his presence. And then the Lord called him to follow.
“Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch people instead of fish.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. — Luke 5:10-11
It’s interesting to note here that Jesus said, “Do not be afraid.” As though he were telling Peter, “See, nothing is too hard for me. Don’t worry; I’ll take care of you. Just follow me in total obedience.”
Instead of taking that huge catch to market, Peter and his companions left all and followed Christ.
He’d caught sight of who and what Christ is. And with that vision filling his sights, he left all for the One he saw as worthy of everything.
Lord, you may not call everyone to leave all in the same way as Peter. But you do call us to put your kingdom first, and all else in second place. So when turning points like these come into our lives, give us a glimpse of who you really are. Because a clear vision of you will help us choose your way, and follow after you with our whole hearts.
And how about you?
Do you make the common mistake of thinking that only troubles and difficulties can cloud our vision? Thinking, when God sends opportunities or success, that he wants you to choose them?
Or has this incident in Peter’s life helped you see that God sometimes sends them as turning points — times when we must choose between two ways. God sends provision and opportunities not because he wants us to chase after them. But to give us a glimpse of who and what he really is. Is that vision clear in your heart, making you willing to joyfully leave all — and follow him?
Those who catch a glimpse of Christ’s true identity, joyfully leave all to follow him.