Do Not Be Afraid – Luke 5.8-11

“But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For Peter and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so were James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were Simon’s business partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people!” So when they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.”

(NET)

Yesterday we saw Jesus telling these experienced, tired fisherman to “go fishing over there”, essentially. Upon listening and obeying Him in faith, they caught so many fish that their nets started to tear. Today, what was their response and Jesus’ reply?

Simon Peter sees this miraculous catch and is amazed. He falls down at Jesus’ knees and says “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”. Seeing the insight, the Sovereignty, the omniscience, and the Lordship of Jesus over the natural world Simon Peter cannot but exclaim “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”. Seeing Jesus for who He is always helps us to see ourselves for who we are. 

What is the response to this? How would a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord respond?

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people!”

The briefest of looks at the life and ministry of these men confirms that, rather than bringing fish to Jesus at His command, they spent the rest of their lives bringing people to Him for salvation, healing, forgiveness, and acceptance into God’s Kingdom (Acts 2.41, for example). Jesus then, was not lying.

Perhaps this is the statement of a madman?

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people!”

Isn’t this a bit sinister? “Catching people” does sound like something a lunatic might say, right? Given what happened in vv.1-7, we know that Jesus does have the authority to call the men to work with Him and serve Him catching people. But what about that phrase? W. Hall Harris wrote this,

“Jesus’ point may have been one or more of the following: the strenuousness of evangelism, the work ethic that it required, persistence and dedication to the task (often in spite of minimal results), the infinite value of the new “catch” (people), and perhaps an eschatological theme of snatching people from judgment. 

If this last motif is in view, then catching people is the opposite of catching fish: The fish would be caught, killed, cooked, and eaten; people would be caught so as to remove them from eternal destruction and to give them new life. 

With the statement “You will be catching people” Jesus turns the miracle into a metaphor for mission.” 

(emphasis added)

Absolutely not the incoherent babbling of someone not in touch with reality. Rather, the words of the Lord sharing His purpose with His first followers and disciples. The best thing is (and this is where you come in), He said this again in a broader, further reaching context. Think on these words today,

““All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

(Matthew 28.18-20)



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Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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