Galilean Grace (Part 2) When You Let God Down
by Max Lucado
This wasn’t the first night that Peter had spent on the Sea of Galilee. After all, he was a fisherman. He, like the others, worked at night. He knew the fish would feed near the surface during the cool of the night and return to the deep during the day. No, this wasn’t the first night Peter had spent on the Sea of Galilee. Nor was it the first night he had caught nothing.
There was that time years before …
Most mornings Peter and his partners would sell their fish, repair their nets, and head home to rest with a bag of money and a feeling of satisfaction. This particular morning there was no money. There was no satisfaction. They had worked all through the night but had nothing to show for it except weary backs and worn nets.
And, what’s worse, everyone knew it. Every morning the shore would become a market as the villagers came to buy their fish, but that day there were no fish.
Jesus was there that morning, teaching. As the people pressed there was little room for him to stand, so he asked Peter if his boat could be a platform. Peter agreed, maybe thinking the boat might as well be put to some good use.
Peter listens as Jesus teaches. It’s good to hear something other than the slapping of waves. When Jesus finishes with the crowd, he turns to Peter. He has another request. He wants to go fishing. “Take the boat into deep water, and put your nets in the water to catch some fish” (Luke 5:4).
Peter groans. The last thing he wants to do is fish. The boat is clean. The nets are ready to dry. The sun is up and he is tired. It’s time to go home. Besides, everyone is watching. They’ve already seen him come back empty-handed once. And, what’s more, what does Jesus know about fishing?
So Peter speaks, “Master, we worked hard all night trying to catch fish” (v. 5).
Mark the weariness in the words.
“We worked hard.” Scraping the hull. Carrying the nets. Pulling the oars. Throwing the nets high into the moonlit sky. Listening as they slap on the surface of the water.
“All night.” The sky had gone from burnt orange to midnight black to morning gold. The hours had passed as slowly as the fleets of clouds before the moon. The fishermen’s conversation had stilled and their shoulders ached. While the village slept, the men worked. All … night … long.
“Trying to catch fish.” The night’s events had been rhythmic: net swung and tossed high till it spread itself against the sky. Then wait. Let it sink. Pull it in. Do it again. Throw. Pull. Throw. Pull. Throw. Pull. Every toss had been a prayer. But every drag of the empty net had come back unanswered. Even the net sighed as the men pulled it out and prepared to throw it again.
For twelve hours they’d fished. And now … now Jesus is wanting to fish some more? And not just off the shore, but in the deep?
Peter sees his friends shrug their shoulders. He looks at the people on the beach watching him. He doesn’t know what to do. Jesus may know a lot about a lot, but Peter knows about fishing. Peter knows when to work and when to quit. He knows there is a time to go on and a time to get out.
Common sense said it was time to get out. Logic said cut your losses and go home. Experience said pack it up and get some rest. But Jesus said, “We can try again if you want.”
The most difficult journey is back to the place where you failed.
Jesus knows that. That’s why he volunteers to go along. “The first outing was solo; this time I’ll be with you. Try it again, this time with me on board.”
And Peter reluctantly agrees to try again. “But you say to put the nets in the water, so I will” (Luke 5:5). It didn’t make any sense, but he’d been around this Nazarene enough to know that his presence made a difference. That wedding in Cana? That sick child of the royal ruler? It’s as if Jesus carried his own deck to the table.
So the oars dip again and the boat goes out. The anchor is set and the nets fly once more.
Peter watches as the net sinks, and he waits. He waits until the net spreads as far as his rope allows. The fishermen are quiet. Peter is quiet. Jesus is quiet. Suddenly the rope yanks. The net, heavy with fish, almost pulls Peter overboard.
“John, James!” he yells. “Come quick!”
Soon the boats are so full of fish that the port side rim dips close to the surface. Peter, ankle deep in flopping silver, turns to look at Jesus, only to find that Jesus is looking at him.
That’s when he realizes who Jesus is.
What an odd place to meet God—on a fishing boat on a small sea in a remote country! But such is the practice of the God who comes into our world. Such is the encounter experienced by those who are willing to try again … with him.
Peter’s life was never again the same after that catch.
From He Still Moves Stones: Everyone Needs a Miracle
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1999) Max Lucado