Up until Jesus entered Peter’s boat, Luke shows us how men failed Jesus. They seemed to want to control him and use him for their own ends, like one would a powerful resource. In Nazareth he was met with unbelief, and when Jesus tried to show them the consequences of their unbelief (Luke 4:23-27), they sought to kill him (Luke 4:28-29). The Lord is not a lifeless commodity or spiritless resource we need to control. Just as we enjoy our freedom, so God enjoys his. He doesn’t force us to choose his way, so we shouldn’t seek to compel God to do our will (viz. “naming it and claiming it”). Our simple trust is all he requires. God must be free to give us a negative reply, if our relationship with him is to go anywhere.
While teaching in a synagogue in Capernaum, Jesus was confronted by a demoniac (Luke 4:33-34). Jesus, who had claimed in Nazareth that the Spirit of God rested on him …to set the captives free (Luke 4:18-19), commanded the man to be silent and freed him of his unclean spirit that had taken away his freedom. This miracle astonished the folks there, and although they wanted to hear the word of God (Luke 5:1), still they were not ready to commit themselves to Jesus as their Messiah. I suspect curiosity and a desire to see more and more great works were more important than their personal commitment to him. What the demoniac had claimed was partially true—while the people and Jesus didn’t have ‘nothing’ in common, they did have very little in common (cf. Luke 4:34). In other words, although they wanted Jesus to stay with them (Luke 4:42), they were unwilling to give up all in order to follow him (cf. Luke 5:11).
It was Peter’s feeble attempt at obedience and his partial but simple trust in Jesus that truly released the power of God. The miracles of healing, exorcisms and the great catch of fish had their place, but it was Peter who first actually trusted himself to Jesus, believing he was indeed the Messiah. Andrew and the unnamed disciple in John 1:37-40 did follow Jesus when John pointed him out, but the first evidence of faith in him as Messiah is recorded in Luke with Peter’s confession that Jesus is Lord (Luke 5:8)!
At this point, Peter had offered the Lord his complete trust. He had no idea where following him might lead, but he trusted the results to Jesus. It wasn’t the people of Nazareth, nor was it the people of Capernaum who offered Jesus the freedom to act as he pleased. It was Peter, and we who do the same when we come to Jesus, trusting he will be enough for us. The Prophets of the Old Testament were called by God, but theirs was not much more than a lonely service. They would complain: “Who has believed our report?” (Isaiah 53:1). Nevertheless, this would not be so for Peter, and those like him who would trust in Jesus. With Jesus’ command “Follow me!”, there also came the promise: “You will catch men!” (Matthew 4:19; cf. Luke 5:10). In other words the loneliness of past ministries would be replaced with an abundance of fruit (cf. Luke 5:6; 10:34; John 4:38). The time of reaping had come.
Although the task before the Apostles and before us today is great, our labor will not be in vain, and the fruit of our labor will far exceed our own ability to produce such things. Therefore, we confidently “launch out” into the world and “let down our nets” (prayers, Sunday school, radio and TV broadcasts, sermons and soup kitchens etc.) in obedience to our Lord (cf. Luke 5:4; Matthew 28:18-20), forsaking all that this world has to offer in order to gain Christ (cf. Luke 5:11; Philippians 3:7-8).