Simon Peter was a fisherman. I imagine he was like a lot of us. We get up everyday and go to work and hope for a good day at work. In our minds some of us may aspire to be really successful at what we are doing, be given more responsibility and make more money. Sometimes though work can like drudgery. I friend of mine would say, “Just another day in the salt mines.” We wonder if we are making headway.
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. Luke 5:1-7
Peter knew how to fish, and he supported himself with his trade, yet after a long night of fishing he caught nothing. That must have been extremely frustrating. Then Jesus comes along, and they go back out. He must have been tired, but he was willing to take the advice of that guy on the shore who probably didn’t look much like a fisherman, but he was willing to try anything. Peter then had a bountiful harvest. More than he could haul in, in fact another boat couldn’t do it either. Peter didn’t dream of becoming rich at that moment, and receiving the praise from his fellow fisherman or town people.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Luke 5:8-10
Peter got down on his knees in a boat, probably on top of smelly greasy fish at Jesus’ feet. He humbled himself in front of all of his friends. Later on after Jesus was crucified, and Peter was in a state of depression most likely, again Jesus came to Peter at work.
“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. John 21:3-10
These two stories I think have all sorts of links. One is regarding our work. Everyday we go to work and do a great job, and it is easy in our minds to compartmentalized and separate our faith and our work lives. Yet Jesus cares about our labors, and is with us at work. Sometimes we don’t remember it maybe until we are under a lot of pressure. In both of these examples, it didn’t seem like Peter was mindful of Jesus, until Jesus nudged him to work some overtime, after he was tired to try once more. Jesus is telling us today the same thing I think, to not quit, continue to work, to risk more and try, even though at times our efforts don’t seem successful. He may bless us in really cool ways at work and possibly in many other ways too. We just need to remember Christ at work, that he cares for us and is with us wherever we are. Lord help me to be mindful of you all day, to serve you at work, and to seek your success, not for my own good but yours.