FROM NOW ON YOU WILL CATCH MEN
Key Verse 5:10b
Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men."
First, "Put out into deep water" (1-7). Look at verse 1. It reads: "One day as Jesus was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God," It was early in the morning when fishermen were washing their nets after night fishing. Jesus showed up at the beach, probably, to meditate on the word of God or to pray. He walked along the shore, enjoying the waves splashing on his sandals. But when people noticed him, they got up, and ran to him. Soon, Jesus was surrounded by the crowd, and he taught them the word of God. About 7 centuries before Christ, God said through the prophet Amos, "The days are coming when I will send a famine through the land-- not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD. Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the LORD, but they will not find it." (Amos 8:11-12) Israel was a religious country; everyone had been studying the Bible, attending the synagogue worship service regularly, but what they were thirsty for was the word of God. They were suffering because of the famine of hearing the word of God. Despite their religious life, many were wandering without knowing what to do with their life and how to live, suffering from the deep sense of meaninglessness and emptiness, because, in the true sense, no one taught them the word of God. Many families were broken, and children were scattered and young men were tortured by demons because of the famine of hearing the word of God. When these suffering and thirsty people came to him, Jesus taught them the word of God.
While teaching the crowd, Jesus saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. Jesus got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Simon said, "Sure!"Jesus sat down and taught the people from the boat. Jesusstepped into his boat!! That was the beginning of real change in the life of Simon. In Acts 10, when God told Simon Peter to get up and eat unclean reptiles and other unclean birds and animals, he said to God, "Surely not, Lord! I have never eat anything impure or unclean." This showed what kind of life he had lived. He was a Jew, and he had struggled to live according to God's laws, attending the synagogue worship service every Saturday, studying the Bible and keeping the laws. But even if he believed in God and kept laws, there was no change in his life - always the same routine. But when Jesus stepped into his boat, that was the beginning of all good things in his life; real changes occurred and his life never became the same. Simon did not ask Jesus for this, but Jesus chose Simon and stepped into his boat; that was the grace of Jesus in his life.
Some of us believed in God, living as Christians. But still there was no real change, even if we attended worship service every Sunday. But when God sent us his servant who taught us the Bible, that was the beginning of real change in our life; since then, all kinds of good things occurred in our life, and our life changed completely and now we are living as God's servants. How come such changes and such blessings? It is because God stepped into our life by sending his servant to us. When we think about this carefully, we see that God's grace is overflowing in our life. God has done a marvelous thing for us.
Look at verse 4. Let’s read this verse together:
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch."
Simon washing his nets in the morning meant that he had been working hard all night long. But then, where were the fish? There was no fish! Despite his hard work all night long, he had caught nothing. How was Simon doing? He looked depressed and tired, sighing deeply. While teaching the people, Jesus noticed it; he had pity on him and wanted to help him in regard to catching fish. So, after finishing his teaching, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch."
His instruction to catch fish in deep water was challenging to Simon, a fisherman, because in the morning, fish come out to the shallow water to find something to eat, while during night time, fish go to deep water. Jesus’ instruction did not make a sense. Also, Simon had tried all night long in the middle of the sea, but caught nothing; why should he try again, even after so many failures, and also after having washed his net?!! Jesus instructed Simon to do what he could not understand; Jesus challenged him to go beyond his own understanding and experience; it was Jesus' invitation to a different world that went beyond his own logic and knowledge.
In shallow water, you can see through, and thereby, things are predictable. Figuratively speaking, thus far, Simon had lived in shallow water, relying on his own understanding and experience as a fisherman. To him, what he had known as a fisherman was everything there to learn. Now relying on his own understanding, common sense, and experience, he was living his life – he was living in shallow water. He was living in his own human territory, and he had never been beyond his human territory. What was the result of living in shallow water? The empty nets! It seemed that in shallow water, he would succeed, because he could see through and understand things, but strangely, he was empty; in the end, he had nothing; it was like chasing after the wind or trying to grab water with his hand. Now Jesus invited him to go beyond his human territory, to go beyond his own understanding, logic and experience. What would he see when he went into deep water? What would he see when he went beyond the human territory? He didn’t know. It was an unknown world to him. It was a challenge.
What was Simon’s response? Look at verse 5. Let’s read this verse together:
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."
His response, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything," meant that he had many understandable reasons to turn down Jesus' invitation - he had already tried in deep water all night long, maybe, throwing the nets in deep water for more than 50 or 100 times, but all his attempts failed; he had tried that "one more time" many times also; he had no reason to try one more time, even after having washed his nets. Also, he had already set plan - go home, take a hot shower, eat some soup and sleep; maybe, he had been waiting for Jesus to finish his message; he was already home. Simply, he had tons of understandable reasons to reject Jesus' suggestion and excuse himself.
But despite all understandable excuses, he changed his position and decided to try, because of only one reason, saying, "But because you say so…" If his partner, John or James suggested him to do so, he would not do it; if his mother-in-law told him to do so, he wouldn't do that. But because Jesus said so, Simon decided to defy all his logic and common sense, change his plan, and obey his instruction. In this way, he respected Jesus as a servant of God very highly, and by holding onto his words, he decided to go beyond his logic and knowledge.
So, Simon rowed the boat to the middle of the lake and threw the nets. What was the result? A miraculous catch of fish! They caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. It was unbelievable. When Simon Peter went beyond his logic and experience, by obeying Jesus’ words, he experienced the power and possibility of God. The catch of fishhe made was so great that both boats were sinking. How did it work? How come, such a large number of fish in deep water in the morning? Were these fish crazy? Simon did not know. Simply, it was beyond comprehension, but surely, it was far greater and more glorious than his wildest dreams. In shallow water this would never happen. When he went beyond hishuman territory by obeying Jesus’ words, he experienced a new world, the deep world, the world of God where God's power was working beyond natural laws, common sense, and human logic, and it was powerful, wonderful, and glorious, far greater and marvelous than the world he had known-it was an eye opening moment.
Here, now we can understand what Jesus meant when he said, "Put out into deep water." Deep water is the deep world where we can experience the power and possibility of God. Deep water is the world of God where God’s power is real and practical. It is God’s dimension. No one can come to this deep water on their own, no one comes into God’s dimension on their own, because simply it is beyond their capacity, beyond their human territory. When Jesus said to Simon, "Put out into deep water," it was his invitation for Simon Peter into the world of God where he would experience God’s power. This is God's invitation for all of us - "Put out into deep water." When people live in shallow water, relying on their logic, knowledge, experiences and common sense, the end result is always the same - empty nets. This is what all people in the world testify, even generation after generation. God never wants us to spend our whole life in shallow water playing around small waves, but he wants us to go beyond this human territory and tap into His world. Jesus invites us, "Put out into deep water." This is a must for all peoples on earth. This is a must for all of us, Christians as well. Think about our Christian life of just doing church activities and developing the knowledge of the Bible without really tapping into God's world - how is it? It is so boring, eventually, we will be tired of doing all these things. That's how so many Christians live their life, dragging their body to the church worship service for maybe, 40 or 50 years as an obligation, without real joy and happiness. It's painful. What about those who are zealous for God and thereby, do a lot of things for God, but not really tapping into God's world? They eventually become Pharisees, so self-righteous, judgmental and demanding. We must tap into God's world where we can experience God's power and God's person so that we may have life together with God really. Once we go beyond our territory and experience God's Person, God's power really, there, we begin to see everything differently; our perspectives change, our desires and hope change, and our direction changes, and our whole life changes; our life never becomes the same. Then, in everything we do in the church is what we do before God alone - our service to the Lord alone.
Then, how can we tap into God's world? On our own, we cannot go beyond our own territory - we just do everything based on our logic, knowledge, experiences and common sense. On our own, it is impossible. Then, how? By holding onto God's words, by doing what God commands us. God invites us into his world, saying, "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." "Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." "Leave your country, your people and your father’s household, and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation,… and you will be a blessing… All peoples on earth will be blessed through you." By obeying these commands, we can go beyond our own human territory, and tap into God's world. It requires absolute faith in God. Those who really trust in God go beyond their understanding by doing what God wants them to do, entrusting themselves in God's hands. But those who do not have real faith in God, back out, making excuses. Don't be scared of some big waves that bother you as you try to go into deep water. God is not dead, but living; He knows what's going on, and He is in control. By faith in God, go into deep water, going beyond your human territory, and there, you will see a new world, the world of God, and your life will never be the same.
Second, "From now on you will catch men" (8-11). Look at verse 8. When he just tried Jesus’ words, at the first try, he made a great success right at the place where he had failed so miserably. So, he should have been overjoyed and shouted, "Hurray!" But he did not give Jesus a high-five. Instead, he fell at Jesus’ feet and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" Something really amazing happened in his heart. Through this miraculous catch of fish, his eyes were opened to see who Jesus was, the Holy Son of God; he realized that he was standing before God. At the same time his eyes were opened to see who he was, a sinful man, not worthy of God's presence. When Simon Peter went beyond his own understanding and logic, and went into deep water, there, he experienced the power of God, and his eyes were opened to see who God is, and who he was. When he lived in the shallow water, probably, he thought that he was okay because he was a Jew, read the Bible and attended worship service. Also, he was not a lazy bum, but a diligent and faithful man as a fisherman and husband struggling hard to support his family. Before people, and outwardly, he was a good man. But when he stood before God, he was found as a sinful man. His life was a sinful life, because fundamentally, he had lived for himself, struggling to build up his career and to support his own family, instead of living for God and struggling to build God's kingdom. Despite his religious life, still it was nothing but a self-seeking life – a sinful life.
Many people think of themselves good, saying, "I am okay." It is not because they are really good, but because they see themselves before people, not before God. What is important in God's eyes is not whether people have a form of religiosity or Bible knowledge, but what they live for, what kind of fruit they bear, and what kind of people they become. It is far better for people to find themselves before God while they are living here on earth. Otherwise, they will find themselves as terrible sinners on the judgment day. What a terrible time it will be for them! Those who find themselves as sinners before God are really blessed; they are the poor in spirit; they are those who mourn; the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Look at verse 10b. Let’s read this verse together:
Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men."
"Don’t be afraid; from now on…" This expression shows that Jesus forgave his sins and he would not hold him accountable for his past life. What is important is not the past, but the present and the future. What grace it is that Jesus, the Judge of all, does not hold us accountable for our past life. Even if our sins are so obvious like crimson tide, Jesus considers us as white as snow, as if we have done nothing wrong. Now, Jesus is more concerned about how we must live our life from now on.
Jesus said to Simon Peter, "From now on you will catch men." Simon had lived the life of catching fish, but now Jesus told him, "No more the life of catching fish, but the life of catching men." When he lived the life of catching fish, and when he was loyal to it, he was able to support his family, and enjoy some pleasures and luxury. That’s what he had so far lived for by living the life of catching fish – some sense of security, being able to pay the bills, and enjoy some luxury and pleasure. But the end result of the life of catching fish was empty like his empty nets after a whole night of labor. And now he realized that it was a sinful life; so he must not live that kind of sinful life any longer. Jesus showed him that he must live a different way of life, that is, the life of catching men.
Here we see that Jesus divides all people’s life struggles into two categories – the life of catching fish and the life of catching men. All people are living the life of catching fish.They catch fish to kill and sell for money. Catching fish is the means of their security and success – some people in getting a job, while others in running their business, but no matter what, all their purpose is that through those activities, they might survive and secure their life in the world. This is an empty way of life. When people have to leave this world, they realize that they have not done anything meaningful, fulfilling and lasting. They are full of regret and sense of emptiness. They have lived a sinful life. That's why people at their death bed, are so fearful.
On the contrary, the life of catching men is the life that lives for God by taking care of God’s flock. You struggle to catch men as shepherds. Why? Not so that you can kill them and sell them for money; instead, you struggle to catch men so that they may not be killed and destroyed; you catch them to heal their wounds and scars, make them healthy and sound so that they may have eternal life, a truly wonderful, happy and fulfilling life in Jesus Christ. So you do it for their happiness and their life; you live for them, and eventually, you even will die for them. This is the very life God wants us to live - a holy and righteous life, and this life of catching men brings glory to God.
When you live the life of catching men, you will have many friends whom you have rescued, and thereby, who love you and honor you greatly; you will spend eternity together with them. Moreover, since you work for God, God will love you and bless you – He will reward you greatly on that day. When you catch many people, on the day when you see Jesus, he will say to you, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" (Matt 25:21) Daniel 12:3 says that those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever in the kingdom of heaven. The life of catching men is the life that bears the fruit of life with eternal reward. Jesus says to us, "From now on you will catch men." This new life direction is not an option, but a must for all Christians, for all who experience Jesus' sin-forgiving grace; all other ways of life are sinful. "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." How will you respond to this calling? How will you respond to this invitation?
Look at verse 11. Let’s read this verse together:
So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
At once, Simon Peter, Andrew, John and James all accepted Jesus’ calling to live the life of catching men. They left everything – their career, their family, and their family business, and followed Jesus. When they lived in shallow water, these things were important to them; they lived for them – career, business and family. But once they tapped into God's world, once their eyes were opened to God, in deep water, these things didn't carry any value; so they left all these things behind and followed Jesus; now Jesus was the most important figure in their life. That was the beginning of their new life, the life of catching men. Since then, their life would never be the same. Now today, Jesus invites us to this glorious life of catching men. Friends, how would you respond?
One Word:From Now On You Will Catch Men
Current Message >