And Simon answering said to him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing…
These fishermen are not the men who could be charged with originating the gospel. Yet let us not suppose that there was no fitness in them for the work they had to do. Their very occupation was one which bred and nourished those very qualities which would stand them in good stead as the apostles of Christ. Their calling was one which demanded observation, that they might discern the times most favourable. They had to scan narrowly the sky, and discern whether there were signs of a coming tempest, for the Sea of Galilee was treacherous, and would often rise into fury in a few moments. Hence they needed both prudence and courage. And they needed both patience and perseverance too. The previous night had been one of no new experience to them. The new day was to be the greatest in their lives. They were to be clothed with a new mission, and strengthened for it by a new experience. The secret of their success was to be revealed to them by a miracle, the memory of which would nerve and strengthen them in the days to come. The command, "Launch out," &c., was a strange one, but still it was the command of the Lord.
I. OBEDIENCE TO THE WORD OF CHRIST. Wise to have authority for every work we undertake. Enough for the soldier that he has the authority of his officer, for the officer that he has the authority of his general, for the ambassador that he has the authority of his king, and for the Christian labourer that he has the authority of Christ. "Nevertheless," said Peter — that is, not because of success, but in spite of failure — "at Thy word I will let down the net." And still the word "nevertheless" is on the lips of the Church. Difficulties in the way of missionary enterprise. Arguments of those who hold that heathen races should be allowed to remain undisturbed in their religions. The slow progress we are making. "Nevertheless, at Thy word," &c. We must walk by faith, not by sight, not only in our own personal life, but in looking at the progress of the kingdom of Christ. " It is not given to you to know." These are the Saviour's words. It is enough for us to feel assured that patient labour cannot, will not, fail, and to say, amid all discouragement and delay, "Nevertheless," &c.
II. THE RESULT OF THIS OBEDIENCE. It had in it not much of cheerfulness, nor perhaps, any faith, but it was obedience under trying circumstanses, and as such it was crowned with success. The failure of the previous night was not unforeseen or unarranged. Christ was in that failure as much as in the success that followed it. The lesson was — empty nets without His blessing and full nets with it. And this lesson they were to remember henceforth when they should become fishers of men. Be sure that Peter would remember that morning on the day of Pentecost, when at the first casting of the gospel-net he enclosed 3,000 souls; and a few days after, when, on casting the net again, there were added to the Church 5,000 souls. The night of failure was not without its lesson and benefit. We can do worse than fail — we can succeed and be proud of our success, and burn incense to our net, and despise those who fail, and forget the Hand whose it is to give or to withhold.
(E. Mellor, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.