The Sea of Galilee (or Gennesaret) is the scene for this narrative. It is possible that the fishermen, in answer to Jesus' call (cf. Mark 1:16-20), drew their boats together to the point where He stood upon the shore. Then, as Jesus stood teaching, they occupied themselves in the shallow water behind Him by washing their nets while listening to Him.
Jesus then entered Simon Peter's boat and asked him to "put out a little from the land" (Luke 5:3). This was done that He might have a better place to teach the multitudes that were pressing upon Him. The boat, being pushed out from the shore and anchored, would give Him a good position from which to preach to the multitude without being pressed upon and disturbed. Jesus then sat down and taught from the boat. Sitting was the usual position of teaching for Jewish rabbis (cf. Matt. 5:1; John 8:2).
After Jesus finished teaching, he began a conversation with Peter. His command was a test of Peter's faith - "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch" (Luke 5:4). Peter explained why it was illogical for him to do so; namely, they, as experienced fishermen, had worked hard all night and not caught a thing. Yet, in spite of these facts, Peter said: "nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net" (5:5). Peter here shows a willingness to honor Jesus, but his words show that he has no hope for the "catch" Jesus spoke of. After all, in that region night was the best time for fishing, and the proper place to cast nets was not in the deep water. However, if Jesus wished to fish by daylight far away from the shore, Simon was not too weary to humor Him.
After the net was let down, there were so many fish trapped that the net began breaking as they tried to lift it out of the water!
Peter obeyed the Lord even though he didn't fully believe in what he was doing. Friends, there may be times in our lives when we struggle to trust the Lord and His word. In those cases, may we find the strength to imitate Peter and obey God even with our little faith. A small faith is certainly better than none at all, and obedience with reservations is better than disobedience. Had Peter refused to obey, how would his small faith have ever grown? May we endeavor to obey the Lord to the best of our ability--even if, at the moment, our heart is not completely in it. If we fail to do such, our faith will never be anything but small.
This incident should also be a reminder to us that the Lord's way is always the best--regardless of whether we comprehend the reasoning behind His commands or tend to think that our own way is better.
We will consider the conclusion to this narrative tomorrow.