Intro. It had been one of those nights, futile and fruitless. All night long up and down the shores of Galilee, casting out the nets, and pulling them back in empty. You had pulled out all of your bags of tricks that you had learned through the years with no success. It is now morning and all you have to show for a night of labor is nets full of weeds. As you are washing the nets hoping for a better day, a man is coming your direction followed by a large number of people. He gets into your boat and calls for you to shove off just a little ways. He sits there now protected from the pushing crowd and He begins to teach the people about God and how He desires us to live. The people listen eagerly and you find yourself also entranced by the things that He is teaching. Having finished His lesson, he now turns to you and says, "Simon, launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a draft."
I. THE RELUCTANT OBEDIENCE.
A. The response of Peter was polite, and accommodating.
1. It was as if Peter said, "Look Lord, you are a good teacher, you tell the people fascinating things about God, but I am the fisherman, I know fish, I know their habits, I know this lake, this is not the time of day to fish."
2. Peter in his response also admitted to failure. "We have fished all night and caught nothing."
3. Have you ever had one of those days, when everything seemed to go wrong, one of those days that seemed to be so fruitless, nothing seemed to go right, and at the end of the day you wondered why you even got out of bed in the morning?
4. That's the kind of night Peter had had, and now this Teacher who has probably never tossed out a net in His life is telling me how to fish.
B. Though Peter mildly objected, yet still we must note that he did obey.
1. His obedience was in blind faith in that it was against everything that he knew.
a. His knowledge and understanding of these waters and fish told him that it would only be fruitless to go out at this time of day to try to catch anything.
b. He looked upon the command as a foolish command, yet he obeyed.
2. His experience was telling him one thing and this man is commanding him to do something that to him did not make sense.
3. Nevertheless, at Your word, I will let down the net.
II. THE RESULT OF OBEING IN BLIND FAITH. "AND WHEN THEY HAD DONE THIS THEY IMMEDIATELY ENCLOSED A GREAT NUMBER OF FISH AND THE NET BROKE."
A. Peter had never seen so many fish in his whole life.
1. He was so excited that he did not at first comprehend the implications and meaning of the success.
2. He called for his partners James and John who were still on shore to come out in their ship, and they began to fill their ships with fish until they began to sink with the weight of the fish.
3. It was at this point that Peter realized the meaning of this miracle.
4. This man sitting in the ship who had taught the people so many wonderful things about God their heavenly Father, was no ordinary man. I believe that light of revelation began to dawn in Peter's heart this moment, which later was to burst forth in full revelation when at Caesarea Phillipi he will declare, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
B. Peter's response was to fall down at the knees of Jesus and say, "Depart from me for I am a sinful man, O Lord."
1. In the recognition of who Jesus was came the recognition of what he was.
2. This is always true, you never truly see yourself until you see yourself in the light of Jesus and who He truly is.
a. Isaiah's vision of the throne of God, "Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips."
b. The result of Daniel's vision of Jesus, "My beauty turned into corruption."
3. You see a man who is proud and arrogant in his self righteousness, this man has never met Jesus. There is more hope for a prostitute or drunkard to enter the kingdom of heaven than him.
4. It is not until you see yourself as a hopeless sinner that you will seek the help of Jesus to redeem your lost soul.
5. Our problem is that we usually just see ourselves in the light of each other, and in your light, I don't look that bad.
a. In some light I don't look too bad, say 40 watt bulbs. But to look at the reflection of yourself in bright light is often devastating.
b. So as we stand about and talk to each other, in the light of each other we look pretty good. But let the light of Jesus shine, and we then behold the truth as every ugly flaw is exposed.
c. Jesus spoke of men not wanting to come to the light because they loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.
III. THE HIGHER CALLING OF JESUS. "FROM NOW ON YOU WILL CATCH MEN."
A. As soon as Peter acknowledged his sin, the Lord was able to cleanse and call him to a higher vocation than just catching fish.
1. Peter said, "I am a sinful man." Jesus answered "Don't be afraid from now on you are going to catch men."
2. I am always blessed and amazed at the men that God calls to catch men.
a. They are not always the men that I would choose, the cultured, the elite, the fashionable, the brilliant.
b. Quite often he calls the street fighter, the brawler, the drug addict, the alcoholic.
3. We see this fulfilled in the book of Acts as we watch Peter casting out the gospel net and catching men for Jesus Christ.
a. In the second chapter of Acts we find around 3,000 men accepting Jesus.
b. In chapter 4 we see another 5,000.
B. Just think of the thousands of men who have spent their lives around the sea of Galilee, and have daily made their living by pulling fish out of that body of water. They have lived and they have died, they are unknown and nameless to the world.
1. There are four fishermen whose names have become household words throughout the centuries and throughout the world, whose lives have made a tremendous impact upon the world, upon you and me.
2. What sets these four men apart from the others?
a. They met Jesus and came to recognize Him and the Messiah, the promised Savior of the world.
b. They obeyed His call to carry the message of His love and His gospel to all the world.
IV. LESSONS THAT THIS STORY TEACHES US.
A. Using our own skills, knowledge and efforts we can be a total failure. We can fish all night and catch nothing.
1. In the ministry I think of all the years that I fished and caught comparably nothing, as I used all my skills and efforts.
2. Yet what a vast difference when our lives become directed by the Lord. "At Thy word, I will do it."
a. You cast the nets in the same place,
b. You cast the nets the same way.
c. The only difference is that they are now so full that you have difficulty trying to draw them in.
3. What makes the difference?
a. The difference is your service is now directed by Him.
b. It is no longer doing it out of your experience and skills.
4. The net result is that He gets the recognition and glory for the success.
B. Faith acts upon the word of the Lord, that may even be contrary to my experience and understanding. "At Thy word, I will do it."
1. Peter's past experience would keep him from trying to catch any fish at this time of day.
2. Peter following his own instincts would have gone home and gone to bed, and try fishing another day.
C. We need to see the Lord in truth to see the truth about ourselves.
1. Standing in His light I see myself in the true light.
2. The truth is I am a sinful man. I need cleansing, I need forgiveness, I need redemption.
D. God can use anyone in His service of catching men for Him.
Common people like fishermen, mechanics, grocery clerks, housewives.
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, [are called]:
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, [yea], and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
That no flesh should glory in his presence.