“Master, we toiled all night and took nothing. But at your word I will let down the nets.”
This was Simon’s forte. He fished. He knew what he was doing. He knew that there should be no fish now after trying all night. This was his everyday event. He knew the ropes. He’d done it a million times. One more attempt should make no difference. However, he’d never been told to do it by Him.
I may do something every day of my life, in the same way each time. It is right for me to do it, in fact. I have no idea what is in store, but for this moment, I tend my nets. I cannot multiply fish in a lake. I cannot make my task miraculously productive. I need not, either. All I need do, all that is on my shoulders, is to tend my nets as I know how until the day I am approached and asked to do it again, this time by my “Master.”
My crux lies at that moment. All the weight and gravity rests there. Jesus did not ask Simon to do a new thing. He did not require a unique, controversial move. He did not ask him to be the Pope (yet). He simply asked Simon to do the same thing he’d done a million times, something he knew how to do in his own power, but which seemed futile given the circumstances. Something with an outcome which Simon could not affect, in his own power.
This seems to be the progression of the call. Simon was simply a hard worker, tending to his business. Then he was “simply” asked to carry out a normal task one more time, even in apparent futility. Then, when that job was finished, “when they had brought their boats to land”(vs.11), the new level, the greater phase, began. “…they left everything and followed him”(vs.11) with the quickly deepening conviction that their next task, “catching men”(vs. 10), would be just as successful as dropping their empty nets one more time.
(Bear in mind, this was all done by Simon, not Peter; a regular Joe, not the Rock. It begs the question whether he would have ever done the great things he did as Peter, the first Pope, had he not merely dropped his net one last time as Simon)