Luke 5: 1-11
This story of Jesus calling his disciples appears later in Luke’s Gospel than the other Gospels. The setting is the Sea of Galilee which Luke calls the lake of Gennesaret. It parallels two stories in Mark: Mark 1:16–20, the story of Jesus calling his disciples; and Mark 4:1–2, the story of Jesus beginning his teaching ministry.
The passage is divided into three parts. In the first part of the text, Luke introduces the setting. Jesus is being pressed by the crowds. He asks a fisherman to lend his boat as a rostrum from which Jesus can address and teach the crowd. Then Luke describes a miracle. The fishermen obey Jesus’ command to caste their nets into the water even though they had been unable to catch any fish that day. The nets become full of fish. They call their friends in other boats to share in the bounty. Finally we see a relationship develop between Jesus and the fishermen. The fishermen drop their nets and follow Jesus with his encouraging words that they will similarly catch people. They are “caught” by Jesus and given a new vocation in this wonderful metaphor.
As we reflect on this text, we can compare Peter’s calling to the other main character in Luke’s second account (Acts), Paul. Both Peter and Paul were called out of their normal lives and occupations by what can only be described as a miracle. This was so intense that following Jesus was a natural response, even by these men who did not feel worthy to be called. Features of both calls can be found in testimonies of many to this day.
Thinking of this text as proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah, a central theme in Luke, we see Jesus anointed by the Spirit, performing acts similar to Moses (manna), Elijah (meat and oil), and Elisha (loaves) in miraculous ways. Luke was saying the work of kingdom was accompanied by acts of abundant grace and generosity. It was a promise of more blessings to come to those who followed Christ in his mission of compassion, invitation, and justice and mercy.