In Luke 5, verses 1-3, Jesus taught a large multitude gathered to “hear the word of God.” The number was so large that Jesus was pushed closer and closer to the shore. Consequently, he asked Peter to lend his boat so He might teach offshore. Jesus must have had a powerful voice to be able to be heard by the group as He taught.
Luke 5:4-6. When Jesus finished teaching, He told Simon, “‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’ 5 Simon answered, ‘Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’ 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.”
Luke 5:8, “When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’”
Peter recognized he was in the presence of a great and powerful man: one who could even direct the flow of fish. He fell before Jesus as he knew his own sinfulness (just as Mary Magdalene did in Luke 7:38). We should not take Peter’s words literally. He instead desired to have a closer relationship with our Lord.
Luke 5:9-11 (NIV), “9. . . he (Peter) and all his companions were astonished at the catch. . . 10. . . Then Jesus said to Simon, 'Don't be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.’ 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”
This miracle showed Jesus’ authority; it taught Jesus would and could provide for His disciples’ natural needs; it established their faith and gave them the courage to leave their business to follow Jesus.
There is also a symbolic lesson in these verses. The net represents the Gospel of the Kingdom. Peter, James, and John were called to be fishers of men, called to find the true Church of God. We, too, are to launch out, preach the gospel, and catch men’s hearts with the gospel net. The fish represent those who would be called to be part of the true Church, but not all those called would be chosen. Matthew 22:14, “Many are called, but few are chosen." Those chosen would love God supremely.
In the Parable of the Dragnet (Matt. 13:47-48), Jesus brought the net to shore and sorted the fish (that is, men) into good and bad fish (true Christians and tares, respectively).
The question is what kind of fish do we desire to be? As Christians, do we want to be of the greatest value to our Heavenly Father or do we appreciate the Gospel but not give our all in His service? Or are we to be tossed back into the sea for not accepting the call?