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. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.
What does success look like? Surely it looks different to different people. Peter was a fisherman. He may have measured success by the number of fish he caught each night. After all, that was how he made his living, and more fish meant more money to feed his family and to provide for his needs. But his boat was not always brimming with fish. He had just been very unsuccessful, catching nothing after a whole night of fishing.
So when Jesus tells Peter to throw out his clean nets again, maybe he does so reluctantly and with little expectation. So imagine his surprise when he catches so many fish that his nets break and two boats start to sink from the weight of it all. What thoughts must have swirled through his mind? What did this catch mean for him and his family, for his business, for his future? But this fishing excursion wasn’t really about fish at all. Peter didn’t turn to Jesus and thank Him for the fish, rejoice in the blessing of it, and go back to shore eager to get to the market. Instead he had a more introspective response, and what did he see in himself? Just a sinful man unworthy of the touch of God on his life?
But that was the whole point. Peter’s fishing didn’t define him. What Peter caught didn’t define him. That wasn’t the measure Jesus was using. That’s not what success is in His eyes. Jesus wanted Peter to do something for Him, to focus on something more eternal, to have a different kind of catch of the day. After witnessing what Jesus had done in providing these fish, Peter was content to leave it all behind and go forth to a new calling and a new purpose. But what does success look like in your life? What defines you? Is it what you do and what you gain? Or are you living for something more eternal than things that you can gather and accumulate here?