I was reading the story of Peter and the disciples when they went back to fishing after the crucifixion and resurrection (found in John 21). In the story they fish all night and catch absolutely nothing. In the early morning light the Lord appears on the beach and asks them how it is going. They answer that they have caught absolutely nothing. He then tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat and there they will find some. Without a question they do as He said – instant obedience – and they catch a “multitude” so large it stretches the nets to beyond capacity. Soon afterwards, they launch out on their public ministry as they step out to lead the new Church spreading a new kind of fishing net to catch the attention of the world and to bring individuals into the Kingdom and the Church. It worked for the Church grew at an enormous rate.
In a similar story early in His ministry – before the disciples began to follow Him (Luke 5) – a parallel story launches their ministry together as they leave things and follow Him for three years of training on how to fish for men. However, this story has one difference.
In this earlier story Peter and some of the other disciples who are professional fishermen have a different initial reaction to the words of Jesus. When Jesus tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat – they know that the difference of a few feet (the width of the boat they were in) would not make a difference. They also knew that you don’t catch fish once the sun was up as the fish then move towards the bottom of the sea to avoid the sun and the heat – thus the reason for them fishing at night. So, there is not the instant obedience we find in the second “no fish caught” story. There is explanation, excuses, questioning, reasoning, logic, common sense, and a general feeling of tiredness as, after all, they have just worked the night shift.
Instead of instant obedience to the Word of the Lord, Peter answers or even argues with the Lord telling Him about their night’s labour. Then Peter says, “but because You said so (but at Your Word ) I will let down the net”. And, they catch a huge number of fish and need the help of other fishing boats to bring them all to shore. At the end of this event Jesus said “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men” (Luke 5:10). And so begins the fulfillment of the Lord’s comment: “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.”
So, twice the Lord performs this miracle for them. Once when they were deciding to follow Him and learn how to fish for men. And, the second time, when they are about to set out to fish in earnest as the Church is in its initial founding stages and as the Holy Spirit is about to be poured out to empower their witness (fishing) as promised in Acts 1:8 and seen in Acts 2:1-5..
At this point the Lord spoke to my spirit and said: “Don’t weigh – Obey!”
“Like Peter when the Church was about to begin what it was called to do – go into all the world sharing the Good News – Don’t weigh – obey! Don’t weigh all the options and think of all the possibilities as the disciples did the first time My Son told them to fish on the other side. Do not consider the past when you went fishing and caught nothing. Don’t let the circumstances or opinions of others around you affect your actions and response to My command. Let down your nets for it is time to fish, time to become true fishers of men. Don’t weigh – obey! This is the day of demonstration. I desire to minister and to manifest My power. But first you must hear My voice and then immediately act upon what I have spoken. If you hear My voice and act upon it – My Word will be fruitful. You will be fruitful. For this is the beginning of a great harvest of souls, many being caught up in the net of the Good News that My Son is the Way, the Truth, and the Life – the only way to the Father and the gate into Heaven for all those who believe. I will give you instructions on where to fish and when to fish. As you hear and obey My voice – the revelation you receive from My heart – many will be caught up in the net, multitudes will come into eternal life. As you hear and obey – YOU will catch them and present them to Me. For this is the day of demonstration – when I will demonstrate that the Gospel is My power unto salvation. So, listen, hear, respond in obedience and celebrate the fruit of our labour together. You will be fruitful.”
Simply – on a daily basis – listen for His voice and then do what He tells you to do. “Don’t weigh – Obey!”
My sense as I heard the Lord speak to me was that, like the first story in Luke 5, we will be needing to work together to bring in this massive harvest of souls – of new believers. My sense was that one boat or church will not be able to handle what the Lord is about to do as we obey His Word and become fishers of men. As we fish for men in all the regular activities of daily life; as fishing for men becomes as normal or natural as breathing – we will see a tremendous multitude saved and so will need the help of other boats or churches to land the catch and then disciple them into maturity.
We must not hesitate for the day is now and the season is already upon us. Join hands with others who are fishing and together watch the Lord confirm His Word with miracles, signs and wonders.