10 February 2019

Luke 5:1-11

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, 'Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.' Simon answered, 'Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.' (vs. 4-5)

Psalm: Psalm 138


The calling of the disciples is recorded is perfunctory terms in Mark’s gospel; the point of the narrative being that the correct response to the kingdom of God is to follow Jesus, whatever the cost.

Luke’s version is far more detailed about the scenario that the early disciples were faced with. On the southern shores of Lake Galilee, near to Capernaum, Jesus took advantage of a wayside pulpit and preached from the boats owned by Simon’s family of fisherfolk. Having spent the evening at sea, Simon and the rest of his firm were tired and were packing up their nets for their next sailing.

There is the sense that these fisherfolk, minding their own business fixing up their nets, were merely earwigging into what Jesus was teaching. It came as something of a surprise, then, to be asked to set sail again so soon. The instructions were naïve. During daylight hours, fisherfolk don’t fish in deep water – therein lies a futile excursion. However, there must have been something compelling about Jesus at this stage because, despite the protests, Simon casts off and sets out on a daylight fishing trip.

In Mark’s account, it is assumed that the disciples respond to Jesus because of his compelling charisma. In Luke’s gospel, there is the opportunity to hear Jesus’ teaching, there is a shared experience, and there is a miracle.

In the deep water, where there is little chance of a catch, in a boat steered by exhausted entrepreneurs, Jesus watches as the enormous haul of fish are dragged into the straining nets.

Brilliantly, Jesus uses this miracle as the vehicle to speak about the vocation of the early disciples. Although they had made their living fishing on the lake, Jesus uses the same imagery to call them into their new lives in the kingdom of God. Fisherfolk are to become fishers of people. So often we assume that our calling to follow Jesus means that we have to leave everything of our past life behind. The genius of this passage is that these early followers did leave everything – in terms of their business – but Jesus is clear that their calling comes from their experience and identity as fisherfolk.

Discipleship isn’t a reprogramming of our identity and experience, it is a reframing of it in light of our experience of the kingdom of God in our midst.


To Ponder:

  • How important are miracles and experiences in enabling people to meet Jesus in this passage?
  • What does that say to us about our missional methods today?
  • What parts of your vocation has Jesus built on in your own life?
  • Look at the resources for Racial Justice Sunday on the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland website. How might you be able to use these in your worship through the rest of this week?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Joanne Cox-Darling

Joanne Cox-Darling is a minister in South Staffordshire; a county proud of its creativity and regeneration opportunities. Joanne is chair of the Christian Enquiries Agency – a charity of Churches Together which seeks to enable people to discover faith and faithfulness through the website Joanne is the author of the forthcoming book 'Finding God in a Culture of Fear' due for publication in late Spring this year.

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