Leaving everything to follow Jesus

“Now Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing around him to hear the word of God. He saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then Jesus sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.” (Luke 5:1-3 NET)

Jesus’ popularity was growing. Just standing by the lake (we know this lake better as the ‘Sea of Galilee’) caused a crowd to gather around him. They were eager to hear him teach more from God’s word. We aren’t given an exact location for this scene, but as Simon is there we are fairly safe to assume this was near Capernaum at the north of the lake.

To better allow the crowds to hear him he got into a boat owned by Simon (we know him better as Peter) and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Jesus then sat down and began to teach (sitting was the posture that was used by the Jews for teaching God’s word).

“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing! But at your word I will lower the nets.’” (Luke 5:4-5)

Simon and his partners were experienced fishermen. They had spent the night fishing but had not caught anything. Although he gave a bit of a protest to getting the nets out to fish again, he at least decided to humour Jesus. Keep in mind that they knew each other already, having met earlier when Andrew brought Peter to meet Jesus (see John 1).

“When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets started to tear. So they motioned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they were about to sink.” (Luke 5:6-7)

I’m sure the look on Simon’s face would have been worth seeing! The haul was so great that their nets began to tear! There were so many fish that they filled both boats to the point that they were seriously close to sinking. This caused Simon to realise there was more to this itinerant teacher than met the eye.

“But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’ For Peter and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so were James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were Simon’s business partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people!’ So when they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.” (Luke 5:8-11)

Simon realised that God was with Jesus and he also realised his own sinful condition. I’m sure he was also surprised to hear that from now on they would be catching people and not fish. And at this point they left everything to follow him. This seems to be an expansion of the account in Mark 1 when the four partners began to follow Jesus. 

What can we learn from this? There is the obvious lesson of being willing to follow Jesus and leaving an old life behind. Some have speculated that the large haul of fish helped to support their families when they left to follow Jesus.

We can also see the need to take Jesus at his word. Jesus asked Simon to do something he did not consider to be worthwhile. But he did it, and the blessings were immense!

May we be as willing to follow and obey Jesus.

Photo: Sea of Galilee at Capernaum, January 2018

Readings for next week:
11 March – Luke 5
12 March – Luke 6
13 March – Luke 7
14 March – Luke 8
15 March – Luke 9

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Jon Galloway

After graduating from Freed-Hardeman College and teaching school for three years, as well as preaching for small congregations in West Tennessee, Jon & Arlene moved back to her home of Glasgow, Scotland. Since 1985 Jon has been involved in evangelistic work in the Glasgow area, currently serving the congregation in East Kilbride. They have three grown children. Besides writing 'Bible Bytes', Jon is also one of the editors of the "Christian Worker," a news magazine for congregations in the UK, and is a teacher and governor for the British Bible School.

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