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Seeds of the Kingdom

Empty Nets

by Sue Cronk

‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch. Simon answered, ’Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.
Luke 5:4-5, NIV

There is something about the disciple Simon Peter that I find very endearing. Perhaps it is his ‘over the top’ enthusiasm or maybe I identify with some of his character traits. (I will leave you wondering about which ones I am referring to ) Whatever the reason, I especially identify with Peter in this bible passage.

The poor man has been out fishing all night on the sea of Galilee and now weary and discouraged, Jesus finds him washing his nets. That was not an unusual thing for a fisherman to be found doing, nor was it an unreasonable request for Jesus to ask Peter to draw his boat a little from the shore, so he could use it as a floating pulpit. It was an unusual request perhaps but not unreasonable. After Jesus finishes teaching the people , he turns to Peter and makes a request that would have taken him by surprise of even baffled him. Jesus said, ‘Put out into the deep [water], and lower your nets for a haul.’ (Lk 5:4 – Amplified Bible) Peter explains his predicament to Jesus – all night fishing but empty nets – yet he adds in Luke 5:5b ‘But on the ground of your word, I will lower the nets [again].’ (Amplified) My heart goes out to Peter at this moment. I know very little about fishing and the thought of being elbow deep in ‘fish guts’ turns my stomach, but I well identify with the ‘empty net’ reality. This man had a family to feed and taxes to pay so the fact that he has caught nothing, was both a demoralising and economic dilemma. His toil had been fruitless, or more accurately ‘fishless.’ No one wants to pull in and clean empty nets. I realise that there are you recreational fishermen out there who thrive on the experience, whether you catch a fish or not ,but we are talking about Simon Peters livelihood and purpose. Fishermen fish and the nets were empty.

I identify well with Peter because I too have toiled all-night sometimes , fishing for the souls of men, and pulled in empty nets. I can imagine Peter deeply sighing at Jesus request. I would have sighed. I do sigh. Nevertheless, Peter somehow, from somewhere, musters enough energy to obey Jesus and lowers his nets again. Was it an act of faith? I doubt it . In fact Peter was so overwhelmed with the outcome that he threw himself before Jesus and confessed what a sinful man he was. The catch of fish was nothing short of miraculous and Peter knew it. The point I want to highlight in this passage right now though is that Peter obeyed Jesus command, despite what his emotions or thought processes dictated, and ended up hauling in so many fish that his nets were breaking. In a moment, his fruitless toil was transformed into a small mountain of smelly fish.

This fisherman in the natural, latter became a “Fisher of Men’ in the spiritual and the leader of the early church. This encounter with Jesus had a permanent affect on Peter. I wonder how are your fishing expeditions going? Perhaps you also identify with Peter and have toiled all night and dragged in empty nets. Talk to God about this and listen to His response. What He says, do it. Perhaps He will tell you to change the bait you are using or pull in the net a little more slowly. If you hear God saying ‘lower your nets again for a haul’ then prepare yourself for fish laden nets.

Prayer – Father God you have called me to be a ‘Fisher of Men’, just like you called Simon Peter and his companions. Sometimes I get discouraged because the fish just don’t seem to be biting. Help me to remain faithful during these times and to keep listening for your voice. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Sue Cronk now lives permanently in Australia and is married to Peter. She is involved with Ellel Victoria and is presently teaching on the Explore Course in Melbourne. Her passion is to encourage God`s people by speaking hope and courage into their lives.

 

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