Bible Society of South Africa

In step with God: Commitment complete - 18 January 2024

By Louise Gevers

Bible text(s)

11They pulled the boats up on the beach, left everything, and followed Jesus.

Boats on Lake Gennesaret (Sea of Galilee), in Jesus’ time, were usually used for fishing, or ferrying people or goods from one side of the lake to the other. At times, Jesus used a boat for teaching purposes too – either to reach the crowds or as an object lesson for his disciples, which was always miraculously memorable. Today’s verse is about one of them.

Not far into the passage which contains that verse, Luke spoke of, “boats up on the beach”, the same phrase as in the verse itself, but here indicating that the night’s work was over. Seeing this, Jesus had seized the opportunity to teach the clamouring crowd, and climbed into Simon’s boat, asking him to push them out a little from shore.

Luke doesn’t say what Jesus taught the crowds that day, but after he’d finished, he’d directed Simon to go out again, further, with his partners, to let down the newly washed nets for a catch. Simon had been reluctant: “Master, we worked hard all night long and caught nothing. But if you say so, I will let down the nets.” (Luke 5:5) Simon’s reluctance to try again was understandable in the circumstances, but because of a growing faith in Jesus, he’d complied.

What happened after that – a catch so great that Simon had to call his partners to help after all – produced a miracle that nearly sank both boats, but affected the fishermen profoundly. “When Simon Peter saw what had happened, he fell on his knees before Jesus and said, “Go away from me Lord! I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8) The realisation of who Jesus was evoked in Simon a sense of his sinfulness and his unworthiness to be in his presence.

But Jesus immediately spoke the comforting words to Simon that people throughout history had heard when confronted by the presence of God: “Don’t be afraid”, and added, as he gave him a new vision of the work he planned for him ahead, “from now on you will be catching men”. (Luke 5:10b)

Vision is what Simon Peter needed to realise his worth in Jesus’ eyes; helped by the miracle that showed what obedience to Jesus could bring. Not only did he leave everything to follow Jesus, but James and John did the same, expressing their absolute commitment in their bold and convincing decision to, with Simon, follow Jesus. “They pulled the boats up on the beach, left everything, and followed Jesus.” (Luke 5:11)

Jesus has the same vision for everyone who believes in him. Have we, like the fishermen, heard his call and decided unequivocally to follow Jesus and commit our lives to him forever?

Prayer: Gracious Lord, help me to submit to you and see the wonderful miracles that you perform. May I be completely committed to you and take the Good News of the Gospel wherever you lead me. Amen

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