And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net broke.…
1. Through a long weary night four men sat in their boats on the Sea of Galilee. They are not novices in the art of fishing, but old experienced hands. They do not idle away their time. They toil hard. They toil hard — dropping their nets and drawing them up again, empty. The story of that vexatious night of disappointment is told, next day, by one of their number in this one sentence, "Master, we have toiled," &c. It could all have been compressed into the one sad word, FAILURE. And this is the word which many pastors and Christian workers may feel themselves obliged to write underneath many of their undertakings and efforts. But God holds us responsible only for duties, never for results. Not by human might, or power, but by His Spirit, is success to be reached. A Paul may plant, or a Peter may fish, but God only can give the increase.
2. Now let us turn over the leaf, and begin Chapter II. It is no longer midnight, but morning. The early sun sparkles on the blue waves of Gennesareth. Two fishermen are on the beach, washing their nets; two others, John and James, are mending theirs in a boat. Jesus comes in sight, followed by a jostling crowd. He wants elbow-room, and space to address the throng, and so He calls for Peter's boat and makes it His floating pulpit. As soon as His discourse is over, He begins to think of His hungry and disappointed disciples. So He gives the order to Simon. There was a great deal of human nature in Peter. He felt just as you and I have felt a hundred times. He said, "We have been toiling all night, and have taken nothing." Had he stopped short right there he would have got a rebuke for the shameful sin of giving up. He was despondent over the past; but he was not despairing for the future. So out bolts that ringing reply, "Nevertheless," &c. Noble words! There spake out a resolute and a relying FAITH. Faith set the bow of Peter's little smack right towards the deep water, and then laid hold of the oar. This is precisely the same thing which we pastors, and Sunday-school teachers, and parents must do straightway. Invite Jesus into our undertakings, for we cannot fail if He is with us in the boat. Then let us pull out into the deep water of thorough, conscientious, faithful work. The fish are in the deep water, not near the shore.
3. What will be the result sooner or later? Look at those disciples in the boat and you will see. They have lowered their net, just as Jesus told them to do. Lo, a multitude of fishes swarming in! The net is breaking. Peter signals to John to bring his boat alongside and help to save the prodigious haul. Up comes the other smack. The two vessels are soon so overloaded that they begin to sink; and Peter throws himself down in awe-struck wonder, and cries out that he is unworthy of such a miraculous blessing. That was Peter's way of saying just what we pastors have often said when the revival was glorious, and we felt how much more God had done for us than we deserved. How sweet was Christ's answer! "Follow Me, and I will make you a fisher of men." And so the loaded boats are pulled ashore, and the happy day's work ends in a FULNESS of blessings. Here are the three F's. The first is a sad one, and teaches us that when we rely upon an arm of flesh our hardest toils may end in Failure. The second is the watchword of all wise action, and all holy endeavour — it is the golden word Faith. And when we take Jesus with us in obedient trust, we bring back a Fulness of success.
(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.