He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. John 21:6
John 21 captures an amazing account of Jesus’s divinity and wonder-working power. At the beginning of the chapter, we are told that the disciples had gone out to fish on the Sea of Galilee. After spending the entire night without catching any fish, they discouragingly went back to shore. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore but the disciples did not recognize him. Suddenly this stranger told these tired fishermen to cast their net on the right side of the boat.
This suggestion must have sound nonsensical to these seasoned fishermen for many reasons. First, it was the wrong time for fishing. Experienced fishermen like Peter knew that deep-water fishing took place at night and early morning. Which is precisely what they tried to do as they are returning from a wasted night of fishing. Therefore, asking them to drop their net on the right side demonstrated Jesus’ lack of knowledge about fishing. One can surmise that some of the men on the boat might have said to themselves, why is Peter, a seasoned fisherman, listening to a carpenter.
Secondly, the shore was the wrong place to cast the net. The shore is shallow, dirty, filled with fishing boats. Fishes do not necessarily stay on the shore line. They need more space to move. Here again, this request highlights Jesus’ lack of understanding of fishing—so it seems. But Peter’s response is impressive and intriguing. He did not try to give Jesus a lesson in the art of fishing. Instead, he reverently and respectfully said, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:5).
Peter demonstrates more confidence in the Lordship of Christ than his experience as a seasoned fisherman. Many believers struggle to trust the leading of the Lord in areas of their strength. We seldom surrender to the will of God when we feel confident in our abilities. When God asks us to do something contrary to conventional wisdom we tend not to obey, especially if we feel confident in our knowledge or ability. Peter obeyed Jesus despite his apprehension of throwing his net where he knew there would be no fish.
God often asks us to throw our nets where there is seemingly no fish (no potential for personal gain). Perhaps you are asked to throw your net in a corporation that is on the verge of bankruptcy or mass layoffs. Or maybe, God is asking you to throw your net in a small church with limited financial resources. God may ask us to throw our net in a non-profit organization to feed the hungry or help the homeless. Some people are asked to throw their net in working with released felons.
Peter did not necessarily want to throw his net in a “dead zone.” Nevertheless, he said, “because you say so.” That’s an attitude of submission we all need to adopt. Most of us struggle to submit to God’s command when we don’t see any potential for success or fruitfulness. Some of us walk away from our God-given assignments because we do not think it will work. Peter teachers us to drop our net even when there is no fish. That may mean counseling or mentoring a troubled teen.
Peter’s obedience was rewarded with a net full of fish. Many of us are forfeiting our blessings because we do not trust God to do what experience tells us cannot be done. We should not stop praying for God to heal a disease no matter how critical it is. Nor should we give up on a marriage because of irreconcilable differences. No matter how many times marital counseling has failed, God can still fix the marriage.
Let us continue to throw our nets on the shores where there is no fish because God says so. That may mean continue to evangelize family, friends, neighbors, or colleagues even though they are professed atheists or followers of other religions. Missionaries are to continue going to non-Christian nations to share the gospel knowing that people may or may not respond positively. Because Jesus says so, we present ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God even when the world begrudges our holiness and scorn our spirituality.
Prayer- Blessed Lord, please give us a spirit of “because you say so,” as we live our lives as ambassadors of Christ. May we have the willingness to cast our nets where there is seemingly no fish.