1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing [their] nets. 3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. 4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 7 And they beckoned unto [their] partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw [it], he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: 10 And so [was] also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. 11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him. Luke 5:1-11
I remember when I was contemplating studying for the ministry, an uncle of mine jokingly told me being a pastor was a great job because you only had to work a half day a week and you could go fishing the rest of the time.
To be honest with you, it’s even better than that. A pastor’s job allows him to go fishing every day of the week. And, of course, the same is true for every Christian. Even though we may have toiled all night and tried every thing we can think of, Jesus tells us to let down the nets for a catch and He fills the nets beyond belief.
Jesus calls you and me – every believer – to be fishers of men (cf. Luke 5:10; Luke 24:46-47; Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16) and He commands us to let down our nets again and again, trusting that He will accomplish His purposes. And so we do. We continue to preach and proclaim God’s Word, knowing and trusting God’s promise that His Word will not return to Him void, without accomplishing His purpose (Isa. 55:10-11).
Perhaps we can take the analogy of our text even further. Jesus commanded His disciples to launch out into the deep and let down their nets for a catch. He didn’t tell them to stand on the safety of the shore and try to bait the fish in. He sent them out to where the fish were – in the deep – and it is there they were to let down their nets.
So also, Jesus would have us to go out into the world where the people are – maybe even into places we would rather not go – and there let down our nets. It doesn’t usually work to call the fish to come onto the shore or to jump into our boats. Nor is it sufficient to simply invite people to come within the walls of our church building that they might hear the Word of God and believe. We need to go to them and find ways to reach them with the Word of God where they are. It’s only when they are caught in the net out there that they can be brought into the boat and in here!
So, how do we launch out into the deep that we might catch men for Jesus? First of all, we need to go out where the people are and not expect them to come to where we are. Secondly, we need to let down our nets, and they may need to be let down deep to where the fish are. That means finding ways to touch people’s lives with God’s Word where they are and in ways that they will hear. Thirdly, we need to remember who it is that fills the net and follow His fishing instructions. We won’t catch souls for Jesus unless the nets we let down are His words of Law and Gospel – warning people concerning their sin and its eternal consequences and telling them of God’s mercy and forgiveness and life in Christ Jesus, who fulfilled all righteousness for us and then suffered and died on the cross for our sins and the sins of all and rose again in victory!
And what a great job God has given us! We get to go fishing every day by taking the message of His Word out into the deep, where the lost are, and catching them with the good news of forgiveness and eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus, God’s Son and our Savior!
Dear Lord Jesus, You have called us to be fishers of men, to launch out into the deep and let down the net of Your Word for a catch. Grant us the faith to go out into the world and proclaim Your Word to people where they are that You might fill the nets and bring people from the depths of sin to faith in You as their Savior. Amen.