Simon Peter Goes Fishing Again

Mark 1:16-18
     Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
     And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
     And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.

The Sea of Galilee
The Lake of Gennesaret
The Sea of Tiberias

     It would appear that Simon Peter forsook the fishing business and followed Jesus to become a fisher of men.  Forsaking their nets does not mean that they should never fish again.  But, to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and catch men required Peter to change what was most important in his life and heart.  Instead of LIVING to catch fish, LIVE to catch men.  Put God and His Word first. 
     Following this record Jesus Christ healed Peter's wife's mother in Mark 1:30 - Luke records this healing in Chapter 4:38.  You would think that having heard the Lord Jesus Christ teach the Word and having seen his wife's mother healed by Jesus would have been enough to convince Peter that forsaking the fishing business and catching men was the right decision.  Yet in Chapter 5 of Luke we find Peter's heart focused back in the fishing business.

Luke 5:1-3
     And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret [Sea of Galilee again].
     And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.
     And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land.  And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.

     Jesus Christ taught God's Word to the people on the shoreline from Peter's ship.  In gratitude for the use of the ship, and to help Peter see that he should be fishing for men, Jesus took Peter on a little fishing trip.

Luke 5:4
     Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.

      Jesus said let out your nets (plural).  Put out everything you have in the boat and see how God will bless you.  Now Jesus Christ may have known the Word of God, but Peter knew the fishing business and he just knew they would not catch any fish.  But because it was Jesus Christ who asked, he agreed to try it just a little and he let out one net.

Luke 5:5
     And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.

     Once you have heard the Word of God and made the decision to walk for God, going back to your old way of life catches you nothing.    Peter knew the fishing business.  He knew where to fish and what bait to use.  He had toiled all night; but CAUGHT NOTHING!  Many people, after being taught the accuracy of God's Word, rather than staying put, move back into the same old problems they were in before.  They go back to the same old dead churches and denominations, same old dead religious groups and practices, same old dead theology that they were entrenched in before hearing God's accurate Word.

     Peter went back fishing, but that night he caught nothing.  Now, Jesus is giving him another chance to believe the whole Word of God and let down all of his nets for a tremendous blessing.  But Peter's response is: "I know this fishing business; but just so you can see for yourself (and just in case there is something to this Word of God stuff) I'll try God out a little and let down one net."

Luke 5:6-11
    And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. [What would have happened if Peter had believed the whole Word and let down his nets?  He would probably still be pulling in the fish today.]
     And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them.  And they came, and filled both the ships, 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.
     For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:
     And so was also James and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon.  And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.
     And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all and followed him.

     Until much later in his life (after being born again on the day of Pentecost) Peter was very impetuous, rushing into decisions and actions like going back to the fishing business as the main focus of his life.  Peter rushed to tell Jesus Christ in Mark 14:28-30 that he would never be offended at him yet he denied Jesus six times. When the Word of God is to act immediately, immediate action is a plus.  However, there are times when we must wait on God.  Peter was always quick to act as we see on another visit to the Sea of Galilee.

Matthew 14:25-29
     And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
     And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit: and they cried out for fear.
     But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
     And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
     And he said, Come.  And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

     Peter acted on the Word of God delivered by Jesus and he walked on the water.  As long as he followed the Word and kept his eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ he walked on the water and experienced the great abundance that is available when we let down our nets and believe the whole Word.

Matthew 14:30-32
     But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
     And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith [believing], wherefore didst thou doubt?
     And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.

     Peter took his eyes off the Lord Jesus Christ and looked at the troubled world around him and he began to sink.  Once we have that Word of God we must stay put on that Word.  God will not fail.  God is faithful to His Word.  Sometimes we must simply wait for God to tell us to move ahead.  We cannot afford to go back to the old fishing business of religious theology and the powerless systems of the world.  We must keep our eyes fixed upon God and the Lord Jesus Christ and live in the abundance of the Word we have been taught.

     Jesus Christ was crucified and God raised him from the dead.  Following his resurrection, he appeared to his disciples several times during the forty days between his resurrection and his ascension.  Peter was present with other disciples and saw Jesus at least twice soon after the resurrection.  Between his appearances to them were times when Jesus Christ was not present. 
     During the time between his second appearance and his third one, impetuous Peter once again decides to focus his heart back on the fishing business.  He could have waited on God and continued to catch men.  It seems difficult to understand how a man who lived and worked so closely with the Lord Jesus Christ and who saw him in his resurrected body could forsake his calling to catch men and go back to fishing as his way of life.  But he did.

John 21:1-3a
    After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias [Sea of Galilee again]; and on this wise shewed he himself.
     There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
     Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing.  they say unto him, We also go with thee.

     When a leader like Peter goes back to his old way of life, others follow.  He should have waited and continued to follow his calling to catch men, but he didn't.  And what is the result of going back?

John 21:3b
     They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.

John 21:4-5a
     But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
     Then Jesus saith unto them, Children [Sirs], have ye any meat? [Did you catch anything?]

     Who says humor is not godly?  God uses humor to bring attention to truth.  Jesus Christ needled the disciples a little.  "Sirs, did you catch any fish?"

John 21:5b-6
     They answered him, No.
     And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.  They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.

     Once again, the abundance of God is available when we believe God's Word.  And what is there when we go back to our old way of life? NOTHING!

John 21:7
     Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord.  Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.

     That was impetuous Peter all right.  Dive in the water and rush to shore.  When Peter went back fishing that night he caught nothing and he was naked.  What a statement about going back to our old theologies and ineffective churches.  Once you have the truth of God's Word stay put.  God has demonstrated over and over the abundance available when we walk on the accuracy of His wonderful Word.  Trust Him and continue in what you have been taught.

John 21:8-14
     And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.
     As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread, [Wonder where Jesus got the fish?]
     Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.
     Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.
     Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine.  And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.
     Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.
     This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.

     Now, one final time before he ascends to sit on the right hand of God, Jesus Christ is going to remind Peter of this calling to catch men, follow the Lord Jesus Christ, and feed God's people His wonderful matchless Word.

John 21:15a
     So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest [agapao] thou me more than these?

     These what?  (Not the other disciples.)  The 153 large fish laying on the shore.  Do you love me more than these things?  Do you love me more than the fishing business?  The question is: "What is most important in your life?"

John 21:15b
     He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love [phileo] thee.  He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. [male lambs]

     In the Bible lands and times, only the shepherd himself would feed and care for the young male lambs.  Jesus Christ was putting great love and trust in Peter when he asked him to feed the young male lambs.  Not only catch men but feed them God's Word.  What a great calling.   What love!

John 21:16
     He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest [agapao] thou me?  He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love [phileo] thee.  He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. [female lambs]

     The young females also deserve special attention Peter, feed them also.
     Notice the use of the Greek words for
"Agapao" love is unconditional giving.  It is unselfish.  When we get committed to something, we put it first.  The love that God demonstrates is agapao love.   Phileo is brotherly love.  It is conditional.  When the conditions are favorable and there is an obvious benefit to loving, then you love.  It is the positive side of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  You love to be loved.   While phileo is good and is a demonstration of that which by nature all men should understand regarding God and how He wants mankind to live, it is not unconditional, agapao love.

     You cannot love with agapao love and continue to mess up on God's Word.  Peter would not commit to loving with agapao love at this time.  He was still only able to commit to brotherly love.  So each time that Jesus asked if Peter agapao loved him, Peter responded, you know I phileo love you.  Finally, Jesus meets him on his level and says OK, lets love with brotherly phileo love, catch men, and move God's Word.

John 21:17
     He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest [phileo] thou me?  Peter was grieved [upset; saddened] because he said unto him the third time, Lovest [phileo] thou me?  And he said unto him, Lord thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love [phileo] thee.  Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. [adult sheep]

     Peter, feed the young boys, feed the young girls, and feed the adults.  If you love me more than the fishing business then catch men and care for the believers.

John 21:18-19
     Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
     This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. [text reads: signifying by what means he should glorify God before death - death is never a glory to God] And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

     Peter was born again on the day of Pentecost and did glorify God as he walked faithfully on God's Word until the day he died.  That does not mean that Peter never messed up again.  But as far as the Word of God reveals, he never went back to the fishing business again - from this point on he faithfully caught men and fed them with God's Word.
     Part of the spiritual package received when you get born again is "the love of God (agapao) shed abroad in our hearts by the holy spirit given to us - Romans 5:5"   Holy spirit includes the unconditional love on the inside that Peter was not able to commit to days earlier when Jesus asked him to care for the believers.  God gives us His kind of love on the inside so that we can commit to loving unconditionally.  We still have to manifest that love.  We still have to decided to love.  But we have spiritual help.  We can commit to loving God first and loving others unconditionally.  We don't have to go back to our fishing business way of life.  We can love God first and catch men.

April, 1998 - Updated April 2006
Michael Cortright