Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.
And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.
Before we look at the details of these two verses, I want to take a look at a similar situation recorded in Luke 5:1-11. In that story, Jesus had needed some respite from the crowds that followed Him. He saw two boats, one of which belonged to Simon Peter. He got into the boat and finished teaching the people from there; then He asked Peter to push off into deeper water where the people would not follow. He also instructed Peter to let down his nets, perhaps wanting to catch some fish for supper. Peter responded that they had fished all night but caught nothing. Nevertheless, at Jesus’ request they would cast their nets again, and this time there were so many fish that the nets began to break. Peter called for help from the men in the other boat, and together they were able to haul the huge catch to shore. Peter knelt at Jesus’ feet, confessing his unworthiness, along with his partners. And this was the time and place at which Jesus said, “Don’t worry, Peter. I will make you to be fishers of men!”
Don’t you think that this incident was in the minds of Peter and the others when John spoke up and said, “It is the Lord!” Our impulsive Peter couldn’t wait for the boats to reach the shore. He’d been stripped down for work, so he quickly pulled on his outer garment and jumped into the water. I wonder if he hoped, once again, to experience the thrill of walking on top of the water! He ran to Jesus, excited and apparently surprised to see Him. The others continued to row to shore, hauling the full net behind them.
The rest of what I have to say this morning is strictly my own observation on these two separate incidents. To me, the most outstanding feature in both is that when God is directing the work, which He has established, He will also abundantly bless the efforts of the workers. Those blessings may not be immediately evident. There are, for instance, missionaries who have labored for years with very little fruit. However, sometimes after the death of the missionary, others have turned to faith in God and the work has grown and expanded in remarkable ways.
We may not always see the fruits of our labors. The five men who were killed by the Auca Indians in 1956 did not get to see nearly everyone in the tribe come to Christ, but one of the wives, Elisabeth Elliot, went on to continue the work there and saw wonderful miracles of the saving grace of God.
I am reminded of Paul’s words in I Corinthians 3:6-8:
6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
The work of evangelism had not yet begun when Peter jumped out of the boat to meet Jesus on the shore. Peter had no idea, yet, of what his life’s work would be. But God was preparing him, as well as the other disciples, to trust Him and obey His directions. He was getting them ready to start the work that has never stopped, and will not stop until God says so.