Luke 5:1-11 “Jesus Calling Peter”


So today we are going to learn about how Jesus Calls Peter to be his first disciple. This is an important moment because we learn that Jesus’ mission is not only about what he does, but what he empowers others to do as well.

  We are going to look at how Jesus calls peter and apply it to how he works with each one of us as we seek to follow Him. 

  Jesus is also calling Peter before peter is a believer in him. So if you are out there and not committed to Jesus, you can read this story as a conversion story, you can understand how to come to Jesus through this. Because Jesus does not just call certain special people to do things but he calls each person to fulfill the work that he has for them. 

You can open your bibles to Luke 5, or just follow along on the screen right over here. 

Luke 5:1-2 On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 

Geographically we are somewhere in the vicinity of Capernaum alongside the sea of Galilee. Luke uses the older term for the lake, Gennesaret. Remember now, that geography is important in Luke so we are going to keep this map handy.

He is once again teaching, remember how Luke 4 ended.

but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.  And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea. 

Luke 4:43-44  

Jesus teaches in Synagogues on the sabbath, but the rest of the time it seems that crowds follow him around as he is teaching.

It says, “the crowd was pressing in on him”

I don’t know about you but I long for the days of crowds pressing in on me, but you can imagine that this would get tiring, and make it difficult to speak to everyone around.

As we see Jesus teaching with the crowd crowding around him, you can imagine off in another frame being two boats, Whoa look at that a boat right there. 

This boat was dug up from the mud of the sea of Galilee. It Dates to about the time of Jesus. Obviously, the sides would be built up a little more but this is the kind of boat that we are talking about. 

It could have a sail but it would be rowed most of the time. There would be a captain and 4 or five rowers.

The fisherman, are sitting on the shore and washing their nets, maybe mending them. They are taking all the little bits of seaweed and junk that can accumulate during the night.

As we read this story we should recognize that it is a living parable, there is something symbolically significant about the futility of these men fishing before they meet Jesus. They are washing their nets, and as we will find out. They have just spent the whole night fishing and have not caught so much as a cold.

Peter is not here listening to Jesus’s teaching. He is just going about his work, but as is the case with Jesus he has other plans.

Luke Continues…

 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 

Luke 5:3

It almost seems to be an accident at first. Jesus just happens to be teaching in this spot where these men finish their work. Jesus just happens to get into Peter’s boat. But none of these things are accidents, Jesus has chosen Peter, he has sought him out to be his premier disciple.

Jesus did not go to Jerusalem to find the man who would be the first of the disciples. He did not go to the schools of the rabbi’s. Jesus went to the poor hard-working peasant fishermen.

 Jesus did not use the wisdom of the world, but what appears to be foolish to accomplish His work.

This brings me to point 1

POINT 1 – Jesus chooses Peter because of everything Jesus is.

 God set’s people apart for service, not based upon there own ability, but on God’s ability, working through the faith that he gives to them. 

God calls the unlikely and outcast to do his most important work.

God chose Moses – who could not speak straight

God chose Gideon who was a coward

God chose Mary, a poor teen girl to bring his Son into the world.

Here, God calls an unlikely set of Fishermen to himself, led by Peter, who’s many character flaws we will see later on. But Jesus purposely goes to this place, to this boat, to call this uneducated man to change the world.

God does not call people based upon all of the things that we would choose. We want a tall attractive person. God calls the person that is of no account.

We live in a beauty-obsessed world. I’m just getting to know this as the father of one teenage girl. 

 In our world, if you are beautiful, you will get more romantic opportunities, a higher paid job, and better tips if you are a waitress. This sort of bias leaks into the Church. I was applying to a bunch of Churches, and there was one thing that almost everyone requested, and it was a photograph. I wonder why.

1 Samuel 16:7  man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 

God does not only ignore outward appearance. But God uses those whom the rest of the world overlooks, it is his specialty.

 God here chooses Peter, Not because Peter is the smartest, Not because peter is the best speaker, but Jesus calls him based on what God is going to do in Peter, not what Peter is in himself. 

Point 1 –  Jesus chooses Peter because of everything Jesus is.

Jesus does not choose Peter because of something special about him, he chooses him because Jesus is going to do something special through him.

 It is the same with us today, Billy Graham was not the slickest orator, he was not a great academic, He was merely a man with the humility and character to be used by God to bring share the simple gospel of Christ.  

Luke continues…

And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” Luke 5:4-5

So I wonder what the facial expressions were in that boat. Like, right at the moment, precisely when Jesus, the son of a carpenter, turns to Peter, the captain of the boat, who has worked all night fishing, and suggests that they go out a little deeper and try one more cast.

I have been fishing with a guide, and if there is one thing they hate is advice from amateurs.

“Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets”

Let’s take this word out right here, “Master”

This is an equivalent of Rabbi, Peter here acknowledges Jesus as a teacher, and gives him quite a bit of respect considering the circumstance and the request. But Peter with his mouth cannot help but register his complaint and you get the impression that Peter might be merely humoring the good teacher.

And yet there is something about the faith that Peter shows here. It might not be much, but it is just enough for him to take Jesus at his word

“at your word I will let down the nets”

 Faith begins when we have just enough inside of us to believe what Jesus says. In this case, it is just a matter of Peter doing what he has done a thousand times, throwing down the already washed nets that will need to be washed again. But the key fact that makes this a faithful act is that Peter does it. He rows out, he takes the net and throws it into the water. (Net cast picture)

Point 2 – Faith begins by believing in Jesus’ word just enough to act on it!

So, simple Peter, in faith throws down the nets, and gets ready to pull up a whole bunch of nothing, but… (Net cast picture again)

  And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.  Luke 5:6-7

When God calls people, he generally gives them a sign. Already in Luke we have seen Zechariah get the sign of muteness, And Mary got the sign of her Cousin being pregnant in old age. Now Jesus, as God, is calling Peter, and as God always gives a sign.

They get so many fish (Fish pic) that they can barely keep the boat afloat. This boat is possibly 30 feet long, this is an unimaginable quantity of fish. They even need extra help to bring in the catch.

The point is that when we step out in faith God proves himself (Point 3)

Peter was not asking for this, he was not seeking a sign, putting God to the test. He was simply responding to Jesus’ word in faith, just enough faith for him to go into the deep water and let down his net.

The lesson for us is that when we listen to God’s word. When we follow in faith. Maybe not great faith but enough faith to do what Jesus says, To love a neighbor. To share the gospel with a friend, when we respond in faith to God’s word He will prove himself. Again and again



But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, Luke 5:8-9  

So I have said that God calls those overlooked by the world. But there is one indispensable quality in a person that is going to be used by God.

And ere it is in Peter.

“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” –

Compare this too – Isaiah 6:5 “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips,


Or Jeremiah 1:6

“Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” 

Or Gideon 

And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” Judges 6:15

This is the one fact about the person that God uses,

 “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  James 4:6 

God will use anyone, the sinner, the coward, the young, the old, the weak, the poor, the outcast, But he will not exalt the proud. God shares his glory with no-one.

So when Peter, falls down before Jesus. The captain of the ship, lay’s prostrate on the mass of fish, and declares “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” He displays the attitude of all these other great men of God. The recognition of supreme unworthiness before a holy God. 

Point 4 – We need to recognize our inability to display God’s ability.

 In the face of the power of God, Peter recognizes his sinfulness. He recognizes that he does not deserve to be in the boat with Jesus. He forgets his oars, he neglects the fact that the boat almost sinking. Forgetting everything else he falls before Jesus. 

 This is the right attitude before God. Before we can understand the glories of being co-heirs with Christ through faith before we can truly understand grace. We need to have a sense of our complete inability to please a Holy God. We need to recognize our inability to display God’s ability

 Because whatever work that Peter does from now on, it is going to be a work of God’s. He was the sinful peasant fisherman by his own strength. But with Jesus working on him, and the Spirit working in Him, he is going to turn the world upside down. 

 If God is calling you to do something amazing, there is one strict qualification. We need to recognize our inability so that we can display God’s ability. So that all the glory and praise will go to God alone.  

  and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” Luke 5:10-11

Jesus says two things to Peter

1) Do not be afraid;

Like the Angel to Zechariah and Mary, Like the Resurrected Jesus would say to Peter and John. Jesus comforts Peter, Peter knows his sin, he knows that he deserves death and hell before a just God. But Jesus shows him God’s grace. The grace that knows Peter’s sin, but in love responds to his repentance and forgives him.

Jesus is coming to Peter in the grace that commands him not to fear.

This is a great paradox of Christianity, we come to God in fear and recognition of our sin. We come as low as possible, but God raises us, not based on our worth, but on the worth of Jesus Christ our Lord.

We come to God in fear of judgment, but he lifts us up and commands us never to fear again.

Second Jesus says to Peter

2) from now on you will be catching men.

The other Gospel’s use “fishers of men”. The imagery of fishing is a violent one. After all, you pull the fish little innocent fish our swimming around peacefully, gliding through the water, and then they are violently yanked out by a net, gutted and eaten. 

   And in fact, the idea of “fishing for men” comes from the Old Testament but always in a sense of God’s judgment.

    The Lord GOD has sworn by his holiness that, behold, the days are coming upon you, when they shall take you away with hooks, even the last of you with fishhooks.  Amos 4:2  

Now it means is that they are going to be “Catching” people, Not in judgment but with the knowledge of the grace of the gospel. 

 The people who are to be “caught” are to be saved out of the waters of judgment (like Noah’s Flood!) into the grace and safety of the gospel (like Noah’s Ark!). They are saved through the water, like we still remeber salvation by baptism

 But all of that would not be clear to Peter at this point. He has a strange teacher explaining a strange mission for his life. But the strangeness of the mission does not matter. Because Peter is all-in on Jesus.


And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him Luke 5:11

They left their boats, they left the largest catch of fish they had ever seen. And they followed Jesus.

The call into Gods’ service starts with humility. Flows through faith in Gods’ word, and results in us leaving everything comfortable behind to follow Jesus where ever he leads us.

Point 5 – God’s call causes us to leave things behind

Peter, James and John, left their business. They left their families. They left everything safe and smart and comfortable. For nothing but a vague mission, and a person. But that person is Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, and he is worth sacrificing everything for.

God still calls us to leave behind the “smart” and comfortable to follow him. Maybe that is your job, maybe it’s your location, maybe that is some sin that you are holding onto. But God calls us forward by faith, to trust his Word alone.

POINT 1 – Jesus chooses Peter because of everything Jesus is.

Point 2 – Faith begins by believing in Jesus’ word just enough to act on it!

POINT 3 – When We step out in faith God proves himself

Point 4 – We need to recognize our inability to display God’s ability.

Point 5 – God’s call causes us to leave things behind

 If I had to boil this down to one idea. Is that God’s work in the world is all about Him. 

It’s about Him choosing unlikely but humble people to do extraordinary things by trusting in his Word

The lesson for us to be a humble person.

and To trust in his word enough to act on it. 


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