The Call of the Disciples
5 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret,[a] the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Simon Peter and those with him were professional fishermen whose occupation was to be skilled at catching fish. When they caught nothing, Jesus uses their lack of an successful fishing trip as an opportunity to reveal the wisdom of God is superior to the intellect of man. When the nets break they lose some of their catch and realize Jesus speaking about their true calling as fishers of men.
Jesus began performing many miracles with signs and wonders following and teaching the disciples the way of the Kingdom. They followed Jesus and observed His love for the people and the absolute commitment to His Father and total obedience to His will. Jesus continued to heal, deliver and preach the good news to the poor, but the Pharisees looked to lay a snare for him. They demanded religious obeisance and outright preference to their position as the ultimate authority of oral law and traditions and experts of the law, weighing men down with heavy burdens that they were not willing to bear. Jesus would rebuke them of their hypocrisy and turn the law around on them as the very sword they would wield to dominate the people.
The disciples observed the wisdom of Jesus and followed His teaching closely as a son adheres to His Father’s admonition. The religious community was infuriated with Jesus constantly breaking the religious laws; such as healing on the sabbath or not commanding His disciples to fast, etc., gathering evidence against Jesus to crucify Him for blasphemy. Jesus knew His mission on earth was to redeem mankind from the curse of sin and death and only a blameless and spotless lamb could be the sacrifice for all to reconcile us back to the Father.
In John 21, Jesus appeared again to the disciples in his resurrected body by the Sea of Galilee in the morning and stood on the shore, while Simon Peter and two unnamed disciples were out fishing and caught nothing. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.
Jesus goes on to say to Simon Peter. “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Jesus asks Peter this question three times. Peter being aware of his three-time denial of Jesus is pierced in his heart knowing that Jesus had asked him three times if he loved him, with a mission to ‘feed my sheep.’
This revelation would expose not only Peter’s heart but all those who would have to come through the crucible of being a follower of Jesus and what they would have to endure to be witnesses of the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Jesus finally instructed them in Acts 1, “Do not go away from Jerusalem but wait for the promise of the Father which you heard from Me, for John on the one hand immersed in water, but you on the other hand will be immersed in the Holy Spirit after these not many days.” The disciples were wanted men due to their association with Jesus and the Jewish festival of Shavuot or Pentecost, was in full swing as over a million Jews would come to celebrate the feast. They attended the feasts in prior years as it was their custom, but this time they would tarry for the promise of the Father, without taking part in the traditional celebration.
In order for the disciples to be made witnesses to what they testified of Jesus, they would have to forgo the festivities of the feast of Pentecost to receive the Holy Spirit and fire. Now they would be empowered to be witnesses with the word written on their hearts and minds as living epistles read by all men.
The first fishing trip represented the calling of those who would be taught of the Lord and follow Him. They would learn His ways and eventually be called ‘people of the Way.’ The last fishing trip prepared them for a massive harvest of souls that would be gathered as they yielded to ‘The Way, The Truth and The Life,’ receiving the first fruits provision of an infilling of the Holy Spirit and fire, harvesting a mighty crop of righteousness.
Once again we stand at the crossroads of decision. Do we hold fast to the traditions of men and do what we have done in the past or wait with deep longing and confident trust that another outpouring of God’s glory will once again flood this land. With great anticipation we heed the call to follow Jesus and answer the call to be His witnesses.
He is the first and the last, the author and finisher of our faith and the call has gone out to receive the latter rain that will bring in the harvest of laborers to reap the harvest of souls.
Written by Shannon LaFreniere