Fishing—Jesus Style

Failure doesn’t feel good—ever. We expected a raise—and we got laid off. We prayed for healing—and we went in for radical surgery. We studied hard—and failed!

Failure is a sometimes a necessary step toward success. Problem—failure takes courage out. That’s why Peter’s fishing incident can en-courage us who feel like failures.

Peter had spent a night fishing—with nothing to show for it. That’s the time not to ask, “How was fishing?” Peter and the others were “washing their nets” (Luke 5:2). From him we learn three truths about reversing defeats.


When Jesus finished teaching, “he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’ And Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing’” (v.5a). He could have said, “It wasn’t that bad—could have been better.”

Because we’re fragile, we hedge. Peter laid it out straight: “We toiled all night (the reality) and took nothing” (the result). Nothing is not much. The word “nothing” could get stuck in the throat of a veteran fisherman. Nothing like honesty to prepare us for God’s new work. No excuses.


Peter was remarkable in his honesty—and obedient: “But at your word (remati) I will let down the nets” (v.5b). Jesus had been teaching the crowd the “word of God” (logos, v.1).

Then He decided to teach Peter, so He gave him a specific word. It wasn’t a teaching; it was a word. Peter had to make a decision about obeying. He could have said, “You don’t understand; the best time is at night.” He could have resented Christ, thinking “He should stick with preaching—I’ll stick with fishing.”

No delay—just instant obedience. Fishing was an area of strength for Peter, but he was willing to lay down his area of expertise before the real Master. The nets that had been retired were called into duty.

The experience of yesterday sometimes paralyzes faith today. We have a good memory for failure. Experience can teach us, but it can also terrify us. Then the word of Christ comes to challenge our experience.

We desperately need to hear from Christ. We have too often seen the success of another fisherman and copied it, only to discover that what worked somewhere else didn’t work with us. Why not? Because it wasn’t a word to us. The success of Peter can be attributed to one thing—obedience to Christ’s word. Nor could Peter assume that he could do it again the next time Jesus used his boat.

Peter’s response shows that he knows that he can take no credit for what just happened. He realizes he is dealing with someone who is on an altogether different level than he. He says, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (v.8). His words reflect the dreadful awareness that he and Jesus are different.


Other fishermen would not have recommended what Peter did. It didn’t make good sense. God makes obedient children look good. Moving by revelation is safer than moving by reason. Catching the wind of the Spirit beats working for God.

Religion does funny things for people. It makes them strive, struggle, and work for a God who is not easy to please. Jesus is. He said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Stay close.

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