I’m not sure we understand the practicalities of what Peter was experiencing when Jesus asked him to go back out into the waters. For one thing discouragement was significantly low. Peter had been following Jesus for the last 9 months, meeting him at the baptism down in Judean, watching him overturn the money changers and watched him as he ministered to that Samaritan woman thing. Finances were probably a little dry. And he did have a wife and perhaps a mother-in-law to support. Fishing out in the open waters was so bad that in Matthew we read that one of them was throwing the amphiblestron, the small circular nets that were thrown into shallow waters. Anything to get some fish.
Meanwhile the others were doing the work that was tedious, the cleaning of the nets. The nets were big and heavy. Rocks and weeds had to be cleaned out. Tears in the net had to be repaired. It was slow work.
They were a good way through all this when Jesus asked them to go out into the deep and cast again. It meant gathering the hired hands (Mt), going out in the middle of the day when there were no fish, going out into the deep waters where the fish were not, and then getting the nets all mucked up again. When you’re tired, frustrated, running low on the finances, this does not set well. And Peter makes it known. But he says he’s willing to give it a shot because it’s Jesus, his master. And lo and behold, Peter makes the catch of a lifetime. It’s unbelievable.
But I think this moment has so many layers. It indeed is the moment where Peter sees Jesus for who really is–a righteous and holy man. And he could’ve gone the way of greed and seen Jesus as a way to improve his business. But instead he asks Jesus to leave him. And when Jesus says to follow him and he will make him a fisher of men, I wonder if he looked at all the fish in the boat and realized how much Jesus would provide for him. He didn’t need to worry about provision because when he was at his lowest and everything looked impossible, the Lord provided.
And He would do it again. After Peter had denied his best friend and Jesus was crucified in the middle of the mess, all Peter and his friends could think to do was go back home. Sitting by the lake of Galilee, Peter decided to go fishing. A half dozen of the other disciples joined him. Again Peter found himself in a situation where he wasn’t catching any fish. Then someone on the shore tells him to thrown on the other side of the boat. They do and the haul was huge. Peter had a flashback and immediately realized who it was. He swam to shore like a wildman.
Jesus had provided again. But this time it was much more than just fish. It was restoration of the soul. Something Peter needed more than a boatload of food and finances. Peter had come far. So far that he knew the Lord’s care for him even at the end of his life, when he himself was also crucified upside down on a cross. But He would deny the Christ no more. Because finally he knew. Jehoveh Jireh.