Luke 5:1-11
Casting On The Word

Authored By Rev Hiroki Hattori, Sasayama Bethel Church, Osaka, Japan

Jesus Stood At The Shore Of Lake Gennesaret


"When Jesus stood at the shore of Lake Gennesaret, the multitude pressed in on around him wanting to hear the word of God," (Luke 5:1).

2. Today we read Luke chapter five. As [we see] even in the biblical heading, the text is on the events when fishermen, namely Peter, Andrew, James, and John were called as disciples. Let's listen to the word through Peter as he started out on his new life as a disciple under the Lord's call.

3. The Lord was standing near the lake. What was he looking at and thinking of? At first glance it looks to me like the Lord was staring at the crowd. It seems like the Lord was standing there for the great multitude that adored him and was pressing in upon him. But, dead ahead there they were, those whom Jesus had been looking intensely at, even the persons of Peter and his men, who were about to be commissioned as disciples of the Lord.

4. Of course, in saying that it doesn't mean that he had been ignoring the crowd. Jesus boarded a boat, and taught the crowds from just off the shore a bit. But from the beginning of the work, the center of this event was on the will of the Lord for Peter and his men. If anything, it even seems that the crowd was used for this purpose.

5. The Lord had his eye on Peter from the start. The Lord stood at the shore of Lake Gennesaret to call Peter and his men as disciples.

The Lord Gave [Peter] A Lookover


"Jesus saw that there were two boats on the shore. The fishermen got up from the boats and were washing the nets," (5:2).

7. So, what was Peter doing at that moment? They were finishing up the day's catch, washing and patching the nets. Based on the words of Peter that "They labored hard through the night, but they had taken nothing," (5:5), we can easily imagine their futility at that hour. Even with their knowledge and experience as fishermen and even with their cooperative efforts having worked the whole night through, it was all in vain, there was no harvest. The world visible to them had surely filled their minds and bodies with emptiness and weariness. Though dragging with weary, still they had to get things ready and wash their nets for tomorrow's catch. Neither the assembled crowd nor the person of the Lord had probably even made it into the view of Peter or his men.

8. The human drama unfolding there was the crowd gathering ready to hear the words of the Lord, and then on the other hand, the persons of Peter and his men living a daily pattern unrelated to such matters. These men had no mind in them for the word of the Lord and no body for taking any part in the work of the Lord. Before Peter noticed the Lord, the Lord had turned his glance over onto the two boats and Peter's group and was checking them out. The Lord surely hadn't missed the meaning of the empty boats, the futility of their unrewarded work, or their despondent countenances and hearts within. The Lord knew all their thoughts.

9. But, the Lord walked towards Peter as though ignoring all that reality of futility.

The Lord Gave [Peter] A Request


"So, the Lord boarded one of the ships that Simon had and asked that they push out a little from the shore. And sitting down he began to teach the crowd from the boat," (5:3).

11. The Lord went into Peter's boat. Then he requested that they push out a bit from the shore. That meant to Peter that they had to stop in the middle of their work. Precisely because that day had gone so badly they had to get ready for the next day. They also had to let their bodies rest. You would'nt expect it to be a situation that anyone would just agree to. If you're even successful in fishing, it's probably because you were prepared to do so. But, when not prepared the reality of the matter looms terrible. But, the Bible records that Peter obeyed the request. In order for the Lord to give out the word of God, he asked for cooperation from Peter, and Peter obeyed.

12. At this moment it seemed like Peter had already been acquainted with the Lord. Peter had probably heard the rumours people said. When we trace back through the Bible to when Peter's mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, the Lord went into his house and it says, "Standing by her bedside, he rebuked the fever," (4:39). Peter had already met this one who rebukes fevers and heals. It is believed that Peter had personally recognized the power of the Lord in him as "a great miracle working prophet, an authoritative teacher, the messiah." He was certainly thankful in the case of his mother-in-law. Also, there was the crowd that had gathered to hear the Lord speak. That may have been one of the reasons that motivated him. The reasons aren't definite, but Peter, tired and putting off the work he was needing to do right then, responded to the Lord's request.

13. Just as the Lord requested, Peter pushed off to a position just off a bit from the coastline. Then the Lord began to teach the gospel of the kingdom of God to the crowd. Why was Peter doing this? It was probably that he was making the boat secure for the Lord and he must have wanted to respond to the Lord's request. Of course, along with the crowd, he would be listening hard to the Lord's speech, though all the while managing the boat. While he heard the powerful message, he agreed at that time to it and was surprised at it, and he may have been listening while deeply impressed.

14. At this time, Peter was accidentally in a place very near to the Lord. As a result [of being in a place physically near to the Lord], he responded to the Lord's request and put aside his daily routine and life.

Because Of Your Words


"When his speech was over, he said to Simon, "Row out to sea, drop your nets and fish.'," (5:4).

16. His speech was over. Normally at this point Peter's role would be over too. Peter should have gone back to shore, continued with his work, and gotten ready for tomorrow. However, the Lord turned to Peter and said, "Row out to sea, drop your nets and fish." It was a quite unexpected remark to make. This remark from the Lord must have been inconceivable for Peter. This sentence from Jesus would bring a halt to everything that had gone on smooth till now.

17. But, the Lord had cast his eye on Peter from the beginning. He had used Peter for a purpose. The Lord was still now right on target in the real world of Peter.

18. Though Peter and his men, who fished for a living, had fished all night and had put out so much hard work that night and couldn't catch a thing in that body of water, the Lord told them to row back out again into that same sea and drop their nets.

19. I'd say that weariness had heavily come down all over Peter in mind and body. Not to mention, looking towards the next day's catch, he still had to clean the nets and repair the breaks in them. Nevertheless, the Lord, who requested that they set the boat out for the crowd and had Peter interrupt his work, was now this time saying, "Row out to sea, drop your nets and fish."

20. Peter first answered him with "Master, we have worked hard all night, but haven't caught anything," (5:5a). Simply put, he was saying that "It's useless. Let's quit." If the work is getting somewhere, if the work is meaningful, people will pay a sacrifice of some kind. That's why they were able to cooperate in setting out the boat. Much of the crowd was also satisfied, so it seemed right that they might have worked for them. But, now Peter couldn't just docilely obey the words that the Lord was now speaking to him. A man can't follow something he feels is useless, especially so when under the conviction that things will turn out utterly and completely useless. Peter made his living as a fisherman. He had experience, knowledge, beliefs and pride with respect to his work. The stronger each of these factors were the more his feelings would boil up from within. All these factors pointed out that it would be a vain effort. It was like hearing Peter complaining and grumbling that "Now again in more pain, must we row out to sea, where more hard work will be found?"

21. But still Peter obeyed regardless. "Yet, because of your words, I will drop my nets," (5:5b). In front of the Lord Peter put aside what was very important to him, what in a certain sense he had held up high. In muffling his experience, his knowledge, his beliefs and his pride, full well knowing that it would turn out a waste, he put the Lord's word first. It's regretful that in his attitude there was no trust in the Lord or even a crude form of faith. But still he did it.

22. The result of his obedience turned out opposite to Peter's expectations. It appeared to be a mind blowing huge catch.

Don't Be Afraid


"Don't be afraid. From henceforth, you will be a fisherman that catches people," (5:10b).

24. In the catching of fish, which was life itself for Peter, the Lord touched him there. The Lord made real to Peter His world, which transcends the reality of this world making the impossible possible. What was impossible for Peter was made certain in it. Peter would understand the meaning in it precisely because he was a fisherman. If things were normal, he might end with a hallelujah for the blessings. But, he was a fisherman and because of that he didn't have such easy thoughts, but instead the shock of it truly seized him. Beginning then, he would turn his eyes on the Lord who was there before his eyes. He saw him as healer. He knew him to the extent of the wonder of his teachings. He knew that he was powerful. But, the Lord who was there before his eyes now was looking intently at Peter. With his power he was powerfully involved in Peter's own life now. For the first time Peter looked at the Lord himself. You might say he was touched by God's presence. For that reason Peter was afraid. He was scared. For, he couldn't help but sense his own sinfulness. The Lord was not [busy] teaching, nor in someone's else's life, he was in Peter's life.

25. The Lord told fearful Peter "Don't be afraid." Put in other words, this phrase would be, "Your sins will not be counted," or even "I pardon [you]." Then he says, "From here after, you will be a fisherman that catches people." A person forgiven by the Lord, a person who takes part in His life will shortly thereafter become a person to hook other people into the Lord's life. We have the true gospel in this text. A person who is forgiven and partaking in the Lord's life will become a person who tells of his forgiveness to others and who invites them into the Lord's life.


"So then, they pulled the boat up onto the land and they forsook all and followed Jesus," (5:11).

27. Peter forsook all and followed the Lord. He risked all his life and followed the Lord. The meaning of "forsake" as depicted here in the text does not point to the acts of either his abandoning his boats or his resigning as a fisherman. It means he forsook his way of life of pointing his eyes, his heart, and his soul onto only this world and its limited reality. It means that he let go of his life that he had held on so tight to and used to be unable to part with. It means that he was holding on tight now to the life that he has been given anew in the forgiveness of the Lord and that he has changed the direction of that life. It stands for the fact that he has turned from this old world unto heaven.

28. So then, when a person truly meets the Lord in his or her life, a new life will begin. The Lord first has us on his mind, then requires and asks of us, then touches our very lives. More than that, he will forgive all of our sins and catching us takes us into true life. Not only does the Lord catch us, but even more he calls and commissions us to his work of hooking and catching others into that life. He remakes our lives totally new unto joyful obedience to the Lord.

29. It began after putting aside his daily routine for the moment. That then continued with his obeying with [the statement] "Because of your word," though it was faithless. But, it was the step that allowed him to be face to face with the Lord, and finally to follow the Lord's invitation and to become a disciple as he went along.

30. The main thing is that we put aside our own routines momentarily and follow the voice of the Lord. It all begins from that.

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