Each of the four gospels tells about the ministry of Jesus, but each comes at the story from a different angle, being aimed at a different audience, and for a different purpose.
Matthew describes the beginning of Jesus’ ministry as Jesus walking along the sea shore encountering a group of fishermen cleaning up after a night of fishing, and shouting, “Follow me!” Peter, Andrew, James, and John immediately abandon their boats and nets and fall in behind Jesus – seemingly without a clue of who Jesus was or why they were going with Him.
Luke goes into much more detail, starting with Jesus going home with Peter (then called Simon) for a meal and healing Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever. In a later incident, Jesus was teaching one morning along the sea shore where these four fishermen were mending and drying their nets. He asks Peter to take Him in his boat out a short distance from shore so He could speak without the crowds pressing in around him. Peter complies. Afterward, Jesus tells Peter to let his nets down for a catch.
Peter and his three partners have just spent a fruitless night fishing. They are, no doubt, tired and discouraged. Now that it is day, the sun has warmed the water and the fish have gone deep, there would be even less available to catch than there was during the night. But Peter, out of respect for Jesus, complies and is rewarded with a catch so huge his net is breaking. He summons his partners and together they bring in a load of fish so large it threatens to sink both boats.
Peter is amazed! He says, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.” The way he addresses Jesus just changed. In the past he used terms like “master” or “teacher”, now he calls him “Lord”.
Luke 5:10-11 says, “And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.’ So when they brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.” (NKJV)
Simon Peter, his brother Andrew and their partners: James and John were the first of the twelve men whom Jesus chose as Apostles: His inner circle. These men would spend the next three years learning from Jesus, so that after His crucifixion and resurrection they could take the Gospel message throughout the region and establish the first century Christian church.
How different things might have been, had Simon Peter said to Jesus, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing. We have just finished cleaning, mending, and drying our nets. We are tired and are going home.” It is possible we would never have heard of Simon Peter. He would not have become the outspoken and impulsive Apostle, and would not have been the pillar of the early church that he was. And certainly there would be no Saint Peter’s Basilica today!
When Peter said, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at your word I will let down the net.” he had no clue what lie ahead of him. He was stepping out on the journey of a lifetime!
And so it is with us. I know no one who has ever had God reveal a path of life like an illuminated roadway, offering a clear vision through the darkness to a destination. In every case I know of, a life’s journey was traveled one stepping stone at a time. A path through the darkness: each stone being lit up one at a time, sometimes swerving off to the side, leading you away from some unseen hazard. If you stay on the path, taking each step as prompted, you will arrive and the intended destination. Stepping off the path to investigate something that caught your eye may find you waist deep in the torrents of life.
Stay on the path, stepping out in faith and patience as each is revealed to you and you will arrive safely on the other side.