Luke chapter 5 tells us of the day that Peter, James and John became Jesus’ disciples. They were fishermen by trade and as they had done for years, they were by the lake washing their nets. Jesus on that day was speaking, and unlike the scribes and Pharisees whose messages were weak hand-me-downs from rabbis who had gone before that limited heaven to an elite few, Jesus’ message was simple, clear, authoritative and promised heaven to all who would come to God in repentance. As would become typical of His ministry, the Lord’s message of hope and reconciliation attracted a crowd. “As the people pressed upon Him to hear the word of God” (Luke 5:1), Jesus spotted two fishing boats by the lake shore and decided to use one of them as a speaking platform. The boat He entered was Simon’s (the one whom Jesus would later call Peter) and He asked Simon if “he would thrust out a little from the land” (Luke 5:3).
Simon obeyed. The Lord delivered the rest of His message. When He was done, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4, ESV). After explaining that they had been out all night trying to catch fish and had caught nothing, Simon obeyed and said: “But at Your word I will let down the nets” (v. 5, ESV).
Simon’s obedience was abundantly rewarded. Because he obeyed the Lord by casting his net one more time into a lake that had yielded nothing, Simon and his partners went from no fish, to having enough to nearly sink both of their boats (vv. 5-6). Simon understood the significance of this. This was no accident or coincidence. This was a miracle. Peter responded in the only way he could think of. He bowed before the Lord and said: “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (v. 8).
Because of his obedience, first in casting out a little from shore and then later further from shore, Peter was able to know Jesus in a way he could not have otherwise. At first, Jesus was just a new kind of rabbi preaching a radical message of hope and salvation. Now Peter could see Him as Lord. For his obedience Jesus rewarded him with more than a lot of fish. He rewarded Peter, James and John with a new calling: “Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men” (v. 10).
The progression of Peter’s obedience, I think, is important. Jesus asked him to obey Him in a little thing, something simple: “Peter, cast your boat out a little from shore. I need it as a speaking platform to address these people.” That request made perfect sense. Peter did that. It was the second request that was a little bolder. “OK, Peter, now I want you to take this next step: Go out into the deep and cast out your nets out for a catch.” Peter was hesitant at first, but he’d already obeyed the Lord once, why not again? It became an act of obedience that not only changed Peter, James and John but the world. These men became Jesus’ first disciples, the ones who would carry His message of hope forward after His return to Heaven. We have the gospel today because some unknown fisherman named Simon Peter cast out his net in obedience to the Lord.
Imagine the impact you and I can have on the world just by being faithful in our obedience to Christ?