Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Jesus was standing on the shore of the lake, but growing crowds surrounded him from all sides, making it impossible for him to preach to the people effectively. When he looked around for some way to cope, he saw two fishing boats along the shore. It is possible that they had just arrived and were barely tied down by the fishermen who, after disembarking, were washing their nets. Jesus, having met the men before, did not hesitate to get into one of the two boats, that of Simon Peter.
ďAnd when he finished speaking, he said to Simon: Set out to sea, and cast your nets to fish. And answering Simon, he said to him: Master, we have worked all night, and we have not caught anything; but at your word I will cast the net. "
The preaching of the Lord may have occupied most of the morning. But he paused in his speech and addressed Peter with a peculiar request, which sounded like a demand. The first words were addressed only to Pedro, as the owner of the ship; but the second part, which describes how to catch the fish, is addressed to all the men in the boat. Jesus thus took charge of the boat and ordered its disposition, as if he were the owner. It was a test of Peter's faith and trust in the Lord.
Although he was a good fisherman, Peter had fished all night and had caught nothing. Peter was a well experienced fisherman. He knew that the night was the best time to fish and the best place was on the banks of the lake not far from the shore. On the occasion of our text, his experience as a fisherman was fruitless. But Peter proceeded in faith to loosen the nets. What happened next showed that unless the Lord blesses man's efforts, failure will follow.
ďAnd having done so, they caught a large quantity of fish, and their net was breaking. So they beckoned to the companions who were in the other boat to come and help them; and they came, and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. "
The Lord not only blessed Peter with many fish, but He also showed him the path that he wanted him to take. It was the first time that Peter was so close to the omnipotence of Christ that he could judge his greatness and majesty. It took place on his boat, with his own fishing net, after his own unsuccessful efforts, in his immediate presence.
This evidence of the omnipotence of Jesus was evidence of his divinity. And the divine Christ is a holy and sinless Christ. Peter felt too unworthy to remain any longer in the presence of the Master, before whom he always felt his sinfulness.
It was fear and amazement that made Peter confess his helplessness. Verses 9-10 tell us that fear and amazement took hold of Peter and all of his companions. That is the reaction of sinful man to the presence of God. Sometimes to fear means to have reverence, because God is so powerful. This is the reverence that God deserves, as our catechism says, "We must fear and love God so that ...". However, because of his lost condition, sinful man always fears in the presence of God.
But Jesus did not want them to live in fear and wonder for Him. He said, "Stop being afraid." That is what the original Greek means. That expression occurs many times in both the Old and New Testaments (Genesis 15: 1; 26:24; Daniel 10: 12-19; Isaiah 41: 10-13; Luke 1:30; 2:10; 8: 50; Acts 18: 9; 27:24; Matthew 1:20; 28: 5,10; Revelation 1:17) God does not take pleasure in the fear of man. God removes the fear of the sinner by forgiving his sin. Forgiveness removes guilt from man. Then the fear disappears. That's what Jesus did for his disciples.
At the beginning of the day, we often feel like Peter. But we must follow the Word of Jesus. And when we do, we learn two things: that we are unworthy sinners and that He generously blesses us body and soul. We live by faith, not by sight and feeling.
The peace that passes all understanding be with you. Amen.
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