“And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.” — Luke 5:6
A Broken Net
There are two accounts of miraculous catches of fish. In the first account in Luke the disciples had fished all night without success (Luke 5:5). When Jesus, therefore, told them to let down the nets, Peter objected, saying it was no use for they had labored all night without success.
Reluctantly, Simon let down the “net” and to his utter surprise the net was so full that it broke and he had to call in help from neighboring boats to land all the fish. How many fish escaped through the tear in the net we are not told, but there were enough left to fill both the little boats of the disciples (Luke 5:7).
Ask yourself, Why did Jesus permit the net to break with its subsequent loss of fish? He had told them to lower the nets; why then the torn net? It was because of Peter’s little faith and disobedience. Jesus had commanded Peter to let down the nets (Luke 5:4). He did not say one net but all the nets. It is in the plural.
Peter felt it was no use (verse 5) and said, “Nevertheless, at your word I will let down the net.” As a result, fish enough for several nets were caught in one net and it tore. Oh, how we limit God by our unbelief!
An Unbroken Net
“Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.” — John 21:11
John, who wrote this account, was amazed and surprised that the net full of fish “held” and did not break. He must have been thinking of the previous experience in Luke 5 where they also enclosed a multitude of fish and the net had broken. And so in surprise he writes, “and although there were so many yet the net was not broken.”
The scene is similar to the scene in Luke 5. After the disciples spent a fruitless night of fishing without Jesus, the Lord said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the ship.” Without Jesus in the boat we are always fishing on the wrong instead of the right side.
At Jesus’ command they cast the net on the right side and the net was full. But the amazing thing was, the net did not break. The reason is evident. In Luke 5 Jesus had commanded to let down several nets. Peter let down only one—and of course it had to break—with the load of fish in a single net intended for several nets.
But in this incident in John 21 Jesus had told them to let down one net (verse 6) and it had to hold. Oh, that we would learn to obey and trust Him! What loss we too sustain when we refuse to believe His words and follow His commands. What joy when we obey!
Let us not limit God by our unbelief! God wants us to expect big things when He works. Let us trust God today for great things for He is a great God!