Four Fishermen Become Fishers of Men
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” (Luke 5:10b)
Many fishermen lived near the Sea of Galilee, which is really a large lake. Four of these fishermen were Simon Peter, his brother Andrew, James, and his brother John. Each night, they would get into their boats and go out on the lake. They cast large nets into the lake then pulled them in to see what they caught. They kept doing this all night long. Each morning they would come to shore and sell the fresh fish. Then they’d wash their nets and get them ready to use again.
One day Jesus was standing on the shore while the fishermen were washing their nets. Simon Peter and the other fishermen already knew Jesus. They thought he might even be the Messiah, but they were not sure. People crowded in close to hear Jesus teach the word of God. Jesus got into Simon Peter’s boat. He asked Simon Peter to push the boat out from the shore a little way.
Jesus sat down in the boat and taught the people. This worked great because Jesus was close enough for everyone to hear and see, but the crowd was kept from pressing in on him. That way, everyone could listen better.
When Jesus finished speaking to the crowd, he told Simon to put the boat out into deep water and cast his nets into the water to catch some fish. Simon and his partners had been fishing all night long. They had cast their nets into the water time and time again. Every time they came up empty. They hadn’t caught anything, not even an old sandal! But Peter tried again because Jesus said so.
The nets came up full to overflowing! They caught so many fish that the nets started to break! Simon Peter had to call for help to pull in all the fish. Then there were so many in the boats that both boats started to sink. Simon Peter knew a miracle when he saw one! He knew that Jesus was a holy man of God!
Simon Peter fell down at Jesus’ knees and begged Jesus to go away. When people get close to God they realize how sinful they are. That’s what happened to Simon Peter. He said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”
Jesus didn’t go away. He called the fishermen into a new line of work. Instead of catching fish and bringing them into a boat, Jesus said they’d catch people and bring them into the kingdom of God. Before this time, they had been interested in Jesus, but now they left everything to follow him to be his disciples.
Are you just interested in Jesus or do you want to follow him and be his disciple?
Faith that Goes Through the Roof
Some men came, bringing to him [Jesus] a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. (Mark 2:3-4)
When the people of Capernaum heard that Jesus was home, so many of them showed up to hear him, that they packed the house. People couldn’t even get close to the door. And Jesus taught them God’s word.
Four men were determined to get their friend to Jesus. He could not get up or walk at all, so they carried him on a mat. They wanted to ask Jesus to heal him. When they couldn’t get through the door, they looked for another way. Most houses in that area had a flat roof that could be used as a patio, with stairs on the side of the house that led up to the roof. The roof was probably made of a thick layer of clay. They dug through the roof and lowered their friend into the presence of Jesus.
Jesus recognized their faith. He told the man, “. . . your sins are forgiven.” Jesus knew the man had two problems: He couldn’t walk and he had sins that were not yet forgiven. Jesus had authority to solve both problems. He chose to deal with the sin first. Jesus knew this would upset the teachers of the law.
The teachers of the law spent their whole lives studying God’s law, telling people what it meant and how to obey it. They believed that only God could forgive sin. They didn’t even expect the Messiah to have that right. When Jesus claimed to be able to forgive, sin he was making himself equal to God. They called this blasphemy. To them, this was the worst sin a person could commit.
Jesus knew what they were thinking. So he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’?” This was a hard question. They knew that both forgiveness and healing are impossible without God’s help. They also knew that it is easier to SAY someone’s sins are forgiven because there would be no way to know whether the sins were forgiven or not. But everyone would be able to see if the man was healed. The teachers couldn’t answer Jesus, but he wanted them to know that he has authority to do both. So he told the paralyzed man to get up, take his mat and go home. And he did! Everyone was amazed! They praised God, because they knew that only God could perform such a miracle.
The four men would not give up until they got through to Jesus. What do you do to try to get close to Jesus?
Jesus’ Power Over a Storm
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. (Mark 4:39)
Jesus had been busy telling stories called parables to the crowds near the Sea of Galilee. Then he had to explain the meaning of the stories to his disciples. When evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side [of the lake].” They left the crowds and got into a boat. Other boats came along too.
The Sea of Galilee is a lake that is surrounded by mountains. The air over the lake tends to be hot; the air coming through the mountain passes from the ocean is cool. When the hot air and cool air meet over the lake, WATCH OUT! That mix of hot and cool air creates sudden and violent storms.
Jesus was tired. He went to the back of the boat and fell asleep on a cushion. Suddenly a wild storm arose! How the winds must have howled! Waves even crashed over the sides of the boat. The boat was about to sink! Even though many of Jesus’ disciples were used to being on the lake, they were terrified. They knew how dangerous such storms could be.
Jesus’ disciples woke him up and said, “Teacher! Don’t you care if we drown?” Jesus got up and the storm was still raging. Jesus told the storm, “Quiet! Be still!” Immediately the winds died down and the lake became completely calm. The storm obeyed him instantly.
No one had ever seen such a thing. People can’t make storms obey them. But Jesus was no ordinary man! The disciples were terrified again. But this time it wasn’t the storm that terrified them. It was the power Jesus had over nature. Jesus asked them, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?Ã¢â‚¬Â. But no one answered his question.
The disciples asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” The disciples didn’t yet fully understand who Jesus was or the extent of his great power. Jesus’ power over the storm demonstrated his authority over creation and the forces of nature. People can’t even predict the weather accurately, but Jesus could control it!
If Jesus could calm a storm, do you think he has the power to help you when you are frightened?
One Boy’s Lunch Feeds 5,000
Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. (John 6:11)
Jesus’ miracles attracted many people. Great crowds of people followed him wherever he went. One day Jesus saw a huge crowd coming toward him. Jesus knew that the people were hungry. He also knew that he was going to feed them. He used this problem as an opportunity to teach his disciples a lesson.
Jesus asked Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” Philip looked at the massive crowd. He tried to figure out how much they would eat, and how much it would cost to buy that much food. The Bible doesn’t say how long it took him to answer, but he figured it out. Philip answered, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
Andrew pointed out, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish. “Perhaps the boy heard Jesus ask about food and offered what little he had. Andrew added, “. . . but how far will they go among so many?”
Jesus told the disciples to have all the people sit down on the grass. There were about 5,000 men, not counting all the women and children. Then Jesus took the boy’s rolls, gave thanks to God and had the disciples start passing the bread out to the hungry people who were seated. He did the same thing with the fish. This was an “all-you-can-eat” lunch. Everyone ate as much as they wanted.
After the people ate, Jesus told his disciples to gather up the scraps so nothing would be wasted. Each of the disciples came back with his basket full of left-over bread and fish; that’s twelve baskets full.
The Jews were expecting a prophet like Moses to come. When Moses led the Jews out of Egypt, he fed them in miraculous ways. Jesus’ miracle of feeding the 5,000 made the people think he was the prophet they were expecting.
The people were so excited when Jesus fed them that they wanted to force him to be their king. Jesus will be King of Kings one day, but he came to earth the first time to die to pay for our sins. So he left them and went up to a mountain by himself before they tried to make him king.
The boy gave his lunch of bread and fish. What do you have that you could offer to Jesus?
Jesus Walks on Water
During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. (Matthew 14:25)
After Jesus fed the 5,000 people, he sent the disciples across the lake on their boat, sent the crowds away, and went up on a mountainside to pray. He was alone there. Jesus stayed on the mountain late into the night. During this time the disciples had traveled a long way from shore. Their boat was going against the wind, and they were being pounded by the waves.
Sometime between three o’clock in the morning and six o’clock in the morning, Jesus decided to go to the other side of the lake. But he did it in a miraculous way. He didn’t swim. He didn’t take a boat. He walked on top of the water! When the disciples saw him, they were scared! These grown men cried out in fear. They screamed, “It’s a ghost! It’s a ghost!”
But it wasn’t a ghost; it was Jesus. He tried to calm them down. He called out to them, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” He told them not to be afraid. But that was asking a lot. Can you imagine seeing someone walking on the waves?
Peter wanted to be sure it was really Jesus. He said, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus told Peter to come on. Peter actually got out of the boat in the middle of the lake with the wind howling and the waves pounding all around him. And Peter walked on water too. He walked right toward Jesus. Then Peter got distracted by the wind and was afraid again. That is when Peter began to sink.
Peter could still see Jesus standing on top of the water. He called out, “Lord! Save me!” Jesus didn’t waste any time. Right away he reached out his hand and caught Peter before he went under. Then Jesus said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Maybe Peter doubted because he stopped focusing on Jesus’ power and started focusing on his impossible situation.
Then Peter and Jesus climbed into the boat. When they did, the wind died down. Then everyone in the boat worshiped Jesus. They said, “Truly you are the Son of God!”
When you are in a scary situation, do you focus your attention more on Jesus’ power or on your problem?