Daylight and Deep Water
Jesus was standing at the water’s edge on the western side of the Sea of Galilee which Luke calls the Lake of Gennesaret. (Twice John calls it the Sea of Tiberius – John 6:1; 21:1). A very large crowd had assembled who probably had already heard of the healing of Simon’s mother-in-law and may have even witnessed the healing by Jesus of all those who were sick with various diseases.
The crowd was pressing around Jesus listening to the word of God as He preached the glad tidings of the Kingdom of God. Jesus saw two boats at the edge of the Lake and got into one of them which happened to be Simon’s. He had already told His disciples to have a boat on stand-by in case He was crowded too much by the people who wanted to touch Him – Mk 3:9-10. After Simon put his boat out a little from the land, Jesus sat down and began teaching the people from the boat.
Jesus Tests Simon’s Faith
It must have been around noon after He had finished teaching twice, and He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” This request of Jesus must have been a shock to the ears of Simon who was a professional fisherman. A carpenter telling a professional fisherman about how to fish!
First of all, the kind of fishing Simon experienced was done better at night (v 6) and close to the shore – John 21:1-6. The fisherman would lower their nets to the bottom in shallow water; the fish would swim into the nets; then be drawn up into the boat. Lowering the nets in deep water would allow the fish to swim under the nets. But Jesus was asking Simon to launch out in daylight and deep water!
Peter almost reneged, but he uses a term in addressing Jesus that only Luke records. He said: “Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the nets” (KJV). The Greek word for ‘Master,’ is epistates. “It is used by the disciples in addressing the Lord, in recognition of His authority rather than His instruction.” W. E. Vine, p. 396.
Christ’s instruction to Simon was contrary to everything he had ever learned about fishing. To obey the Lord, he would have to release all claim on what he had been taught or what the majority or people might think.
Lessons to Glean!
Genuine faith in Christ, our Master, is always taking Him at His word whether we agree with Him or not. Learning obedience will involve personal sacrifice – Heb. 5:8-9. It may even involve our occupation! It was Simon’s boat and net (probably torn) that Jesus used. He did not ask Simon to get a bigger boat and a new and larger net. We use what is available to us when we serve the Master!
Remember, we are saved to serve! Jesus said “come” – Matt. 11:26; then He said “go” – Matt. 28:29. There must always be expectancy in our service to the Master, for expectancy it has been said is the eye of faith. Sometimes we may hesitate to invite others to our periods of worship and Bible study for fear it will not do any good and they probably will not even come. But it was Jesus who said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep.” It was the fishermen’s initial lack of faith that caused them to be so amazed at the results – v. 9. But someone might ask, “But where is the deep?” The deep is anywhere there are people who have never heard the good tidings of the kingdom of God.
The church building is not the deep – it is the shore. Just to hang around the shoreline is not the way we become fishers of men – 5:10. We must launch out into the deep to bring precious souls to the Master.