It was my first time in a long time to handle a full length narrative bible study. It was also my first time to lead one without any written notes. Nope, it was not impromptu, I just wasn’t able to organize my thoughts in time. I think it went well though… All praise be to God.
Jesus Calls the First Disciples
5 On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets.3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 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.8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”[a]11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
This was some time after Jesus started his public ministry. He had already done some exorcisms and healings here and there, and was gaining popularity. He is currently preaching “God’s word” to a group of people by the lake, and decided to borrow Simon’s boat to use as his podium. He has been previously acquainted with Simon, but not much else is known.
Jesus – Preacher, exorcist, miracle-worker. He is being followed by various crowds for various reasons, but mainly because they were being amazed and intrigued by what he does and who people say he is (The Messiah).
Simon/Peter – fisherman, soon to be one of the 12 disciples of Jesus. Met Jesus previously through his brother Andrew. Jesus was the one who gave him the name “Peter”
John and James, sons of Zebedee – also fishermen who will soon be part of Jesus’ 12 disciples
Crowd – random collection of those who wanted to know more about Jesus
V1. On this occasion, Jesus was preaching, but the author was not interested in what he had to say. Why do you think this is so? What do you think is the focus of the writer in this passage?
V2-3. The fishermen were already washing their nets when Jesus hopped into one of their boats. What could the fishermen be feeling at that moment? Why do you think did they allow Jesus to hop in?
V4-5. Simon called Jesus “master”, indicating a degree of respect for him. Yet his response to Jesus’ command was obedience mixed with doubt (or explanations).
How would you, as an expert in your field, react to someone who would command something that you know is contrary to logic/reason/your pool of knowledge? (As illustrated by sir Ken, Jesus telling Simon what to do is like having the janitor instruct you on how to teach food science and nutrition classes. No offense to janitors though).
V6-7. This would probably have been a Guinnes-book-of-world-records entry for Simon in terms of number of fish caught from a single net throw. Following Jesus’ command gave them an instant situation: The nets were breaking and the boats were sinking.
How does this event (the result of following Jesus’ command) contrast with the outcome of the fishermen’s all-nighter (V5)?
V8-9. Simon’s reaction to the great catch of fish was fear and a realization of his sinfulness. Why do you think did Simon react in this way? What could have caused him to experience fear and admit his sinfulness?
V10-11. Jesus responds by telling them that henceforth, they will be leaving their day jobs and shall be working for him.
What do you think did Jesus mean when he said that they will be “catching men” instead? How did Simon and his companions respond?
- In this story, we could see that there are many different people, in relation to how they view Jesus:
- Crowd – they were listening to the word of God, but most were perhaps not committed
- Simon 1 – He allowed Jesus to use his boat (and therefore have an influence over his life), but was still unsure about to what extent he should follow him
- Simon 2 – He has experienced firsthand Jesus’ power, reacting in reverent fear and humility (by recognizing he is a sinner)
- Simon 3 – He has decided to follow Jesus into the uncertain, even at the cost of giving up his livelihood, and current way of life.
Which of these characters can you relate with the most at this point in your life?
- Is there a command that you think God is asking you to fulfill? How are you reacting to him? Are you fully obedient, willing but struggling, or are you totally ignoring him?
- The disciples were said to have “left everything” and followed Jesus. What would this phrase mean to you today? What things do you think will Jesus require you to leave behind? How willing are you to comply?
- Have you ever felt that reverent fear of being too ashamed to face someone righteous? What made you feel that way?