Let down the nets... you will be catching men.
Luke 4:31-5:11 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
And He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and He was teaching them on the Sabbath; 32 and they were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority. 33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Let us alone! What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst of the people, he came out of him without doing him any harm. 36 And amazement came upon them all, and they began talking with one another saying, “What is this message? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits and they come out.” 37 And the report about Him was spreading into every locality in the surrounding district.
38 Then He got up and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Him to help her. 39 And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately got up and waited on them.
40 While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them. 41 Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ.
42 When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them. 43 But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.”
44 So He kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.
5 Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; 2 and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. 3 And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat. 4 When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” 6 When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; 7 so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9 For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which 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 fear, from now on you will be catching men.” 11 When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.
In today’s text it says: all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them. Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ. It seems odd that Jesus would rebuke the demons, not allowing them to speak and identify Him as the Son of God. It is not only the demons though that Jesus did not allow to speak about who He was. Frequently, when Jesus healed people He instructed them to tell no one. In Matthew 16:20, after telling the disciples the authority that they would have, knowing that Jesus is the Christ, it says: Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.
Perhaps it is understandable that Jesus would not want the demons to testify about Him. In today’s text we see what it is that the demons said: “Let us alone! What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” The demons recognized who Jesus was and the authority that He had over them. But their testimony was a testimony of fear, knowing they, being evil, could not coexist with Jesus. Unlike the demons, fallen man can be redeemed. So the testimony based on fear and separation from Jesus, the Son of God is not what Jesus wanted people to hear.
In the case of Jesus instructing those who He healed and delivered not to tell others, it really is a matter of what is the heart motivation for coming to Christ. If people only come to Jesus to receive healing or deliverance from physical or spiritual bondage, they miss what Jesus really came for. Jesus came to set people free from the bondage of sin. Sickness, disease and physical handicaps can only affect our bodies for the limited time we are here, while the consequences of sin can affect us for eternity. It is a great testimony about the power of God when someone is healed of a sickness, disease or deformity. But if their body is healed and their spiritual state, the condition of their heart remains unchanged what good has really happened. In Matthew 16:26 and Mark 8:36 Jesus says: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” The true testimony of the power of God is how He changes hearts, how unrighteous sinners become redeemed saints, freed from the bondage of sin. Jesus desires that those who come to Him would come repentant, seeking a change of heart, not simply a change of the natural, physical circumstances.
In today’s text it says: When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.” When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him. Here we see the difference. Like the demons, Peter recognized that he was not able to coexist with Jesus. He though recognized that it was his sinfulness which caused the separation. In Matthew 16, when Peter testifies of who Jesus is we see: Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” The revelation of who Jesus is comes from the Father. Having received that revelation, the disciples who had just seen the marvelous blessing of the kingdom in this realm, left everything to follow Jesus.
It is interesting that Jesus said that the disciples would no longer catch fish but rather would be catching men. To understand how we are to be like these disciples, catching men, we should look at the method they used as fishermen. They did not fish using lines and bait, trying to attract or deceive the fish. They took Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah with them in their boat and they let down their nets. We too, should be those who take Jesus, the Messiah with us. We should take His presence and the goodness of the kingdom of heaven to the places we go. We should not try to bait, lure or trick people into the kingdom. We should not promote fear that they cannot coexist with Jesus. Instead we should simply take the presence of Christ and let down our nets. In Matthew 13:47 Jesus says: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind.” We should let the Father and the Holy Spirit reveal who Christ is. The revelation of Christ will change the hearts of people. When the natural and physical align with the kingdom then we will also see changes in this realm. What Jesus said will come to pass.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Help me each day to walk in and with Your presence, letting down the net of the kingdom of heaven that You may bring in those who are ready in this time. Amen.