4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” (ESV)
We learn from this narrative the necessity of human activity. The catch of fish was miraculous, but neither the fisherman nor his boat nor his fishing tackle were ignored; they were all were used to take the fish. So in the saving of souls, God works by means; and while the present economy of grace shall stand, God will be pleased by the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe. When God works without instruments, He is glorified; but He has selected this plan of human involvement as being that by which He is most magnified in the earth.
The means themselves can accomplish nothing. “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!” What was the reason for this? Were they not experienced fishermen going about their business? They were not novices; they understood the work. Was the problem that they lacked skill? No. Were they lazy? No; they had worked. Did they lack perseverance? No; they had worked all night. Was there a lack of fish in the sea? Certainly not, for as soon as the Master came, they swam to the net in large numbers. What, then, is the reason? It is because there is no power in the means themselves apart from the presence of Jesus. Without Him we can do nothing. But with Christ we can do all things.
Christ’s presence confers success. Jesus sat in Peter’s boat, and His will, by a mysterious influence, drew the fish to the net. When Jesus is lifted up in His Church, His presence is the church’s power-the shout of a king is in the midst of her. “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”1 Let us go out this morning on our work of soul-fishing, looking up in faith, and around us at the great opportunity. Let us work until the night comes, and we will not labor in vain, for He who tells us to let down the net will fill it with fish.