As I read Luke 5 this week where it discusses Peter taking Jesus out on his boat in order for Jesus to teach the masses gathered along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, a particular thought hit me that I have not been able to shake.
Do you remember the old hymn by John H. Sammis (1887), Trust and Obey? The chorus reads, “Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” I grew up singing it in church and on occasion still do. To be honest, it is one of my favorite hymns because of its simplicity, and it serves as a great reminder on many days to put one foot in front of another with perseverance and endurance.
This song and the story go together here for an incredible reminder. Let me explain.
Jesus Teaches Peter About Fishing … Kind Of
Recall that Jesus asked Peter to take him out away from the shore so that He could teach. When he was finished teaching, Luke tells the story this way:
When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:5-8)
Jesus asked Peter to launch out deeper in the water to fish.
Who was the professional fisherman? Not Jesus. Jesus grew up and learned how to be a carpenter. Peter, a resident of the fishing town Capernaum, boasted of his fishing prowess. In fact, Peter, James, and John had just fished all night and caught absolutely nothing.
Yet, Jesus the carpenter from Nazareth asked Peter to throw another net.
Against his better judgment, against his experience, and against his instinct, Peter threw the net again. Luke tells us that he caught so many fish in the net that James and John had to bring their boat over as well to get them in the boats—and it filled both boats such that they both began to sink.
Further, Jesus’ faithfulness to bless Peter’s obedience led Peter to confession.
Lessons for Today
What can we learn from this?
First, Peter obeyed. Before he saw the benefits of obedience, he had to throw the net. He would have never experienced that kind of catch had he not first obeyed. In order to place himself in a position to receive the benefits of the Lord, he first needed to obey the Lord. Friends, that is true for us as well.
Second, obedience in this situation went against Peter’s instinct. Peter had just toiled all night. He knew fishing. The fish were simply not there that night. The two boats had worked (“toiled”) all night and caught nothing. They were not pulling lures. These fishermen would throw a net to catch the fish that were in the area. Throughout the night, the fish were simply not there. Why would that be different just a few minutes later?
Third, Peter did not control the outcome. He obeyed. He threw the net. The result? An overwhelming catch—probably more than he had ever caught at one time before. So many fish that it took two boats and four fishermen (assuming Jesus helped), and still the catch was so great that the boats began to sink. Incredible. Did Peter catch these because he was a good fishermen? No. He caught them because Jesus intervened. Jesus blessed his obedience.
Fourth, Peter trusted and obeyed Jesus. In turn, Jesus blessed him and used him to at this point now teach millions and millions since then.
We are no different. Our responsibility is simple—trust and obey. God handles the rest.
You may need to do something that seems especially difficult, or useless, or silly. As you contemplate what you need to do, you may doubt God’s faithfulness, your ability, or the outcome. In many ways, similar to Peter, you object to obedience.
Let me encourage you today to simply “Trust and obey, for there is no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
Until you obey, you have no idea what God will do with your obedience. And even when God does not do what you specifically want, still trust that you have placed yourself in the strongest and best place for Him to bless your obedience overall.