“One on occasion,” as Luke 5 begins, a crowd was gathering around Jesus to hear the word of God. Jesus was by a lake so he got into a boat, and had Simon, the owner, push off from shore so he could speak to the people.
After he finished speaking, rather than return to shore, Jesus tells Simon to go further out into deep water. Jesus, the carpenter, then proceeds to instruct Simon, the fisherman, in how to fish. “Let down your nets for a catch.” Simon’s first response is to say that he and his partners have already toiled all night and have caught nothing. Maybe he thinks this isn’t going to work or perhaps this isn’t a good idea. I can’t hep but think there was at least a slight pause and recognition on Simon’s part between his first words, “we have caught nothing”, and his following response to Jesus. Maybe just as he is finishing his complaint his tone changes, his eyes turn away in embarrassment for his doubt, and he realizes who it is that is speaking to him. Simon then says, “But at your word I will let down the nets.” What follows is by now to be expected from the reader. Simon and his crew catch so many fish the weight begins to sink the boats.
Jesus’ simple command to let down his nets is a challenge to Simon’s wisdom, experience, and expertise. Jesus isn’t having a discussion, he is issuing a command. But Simon has to battle what he knows and feels. He just had been fishing in this water all night long. What sense does it make to let down his nets one more time? So he responds to Jesus accordingly and it is a contest between what Simon says and what Jesus says. But thankfully Simon ignores his own words and heeds the words of Jesus.
All the crowds had gathered and pressed in around Jesus to do just that, “to hear the word of God” (Luke 5:1). Now his word was directed to Simon. How could he not respond? What followed was an incredible show of God’s power.
Being in the presence of the Lord and witnessing such power, Simon is terrified, as are others around him. He confesses his sin and unworthiness. But Jesus didn’t leave him in fear. He had made Simon a successful fisherman that day, and Jesus now calls him to continue to heed his words–not Simon’s own. He wants Simon to follow him, stop catching fish, and start catching people. When they all got to shore, they left everything and followed Jesus.