PETER : THE BUSINESSMAN
Allow God to Use Your "Boat"
Traditionally, we have been taught that Peter, when called by Jesus, left his fishing business and his responsibility to his family and his business partners and employees to follow Jesus. Now, based on evidence revealed by close examination of the scripture and the teaching of the Holy Spirit, many are suggesting that it is more likely that Peter continued to manage his business. We believe that Peter continued to manage the fishing business while serving with Jesus. Additionally, we believe that Jesus was involved in Peter's business, yielding miraculous provision for the business, Peter's family and the citizens of Galilee.
Matthew 4:20 says, "...they, [meaning Peter, probably Andrew, James and John and maybe Thomas and Nathanael], left their nets and followed Him." This is taken to mean that Peter left his job, his business, to go into full time ministry with Jesus. On the other hand, John Garfield and Harold R. Elerle, in 'Releasing Kings for Ministry in the Marketplace' make the following argument: "However, Kings don't leave their secular vocations to start their ministry. Those jobs and businesses are a sacred part of a king's destiny. The marketplace is where they are called". In 'Releasing Kings', Garfield and Elerle make the following observations: Peter did not abandon his boat, that is his business, because it is recorded in John 21 that after the crucifixion and the resurrection, Peter decided to go fishing, got into the boat with his partners and they had caught nothing all night, but early the next morning, [the resurrected] Jesus called out to them from the shore and said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some". And when they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish'. Obviously, if Peter had abandoned his business, his boat would not have been available to him. Neither would it have been in good shape for fishing. Additionally, we know from the scripture that Jesus continually had access to boats to move back and forth across the Sea of Galilee. In the gospels there are many records of Jesus using a boat. We are particularly familiar with two of those. One is the record of the storm that Jesus slept through on the boat until his fearful disciples awoke Him and He calmed the seas. The second one is when Jesus came walking on the water and Peter got out of the boat and walked toward Jesus.
Garfield points out that there are many other records of Jesus using a boat during His ministry. He lists following passages from Mathew:
Then He (Jesus) got into the boat and His disciples followed him. (Matt. 8:23)
Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to His own town. (Matt. 9:1)
Such large crowds gathered around Him that He got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. (Matt. 13:2)
When Jesus heard what had happened, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. (Matt. 14:13)
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowd. (Matt. 14:22)
As Garfield says, it is quiet clear that for the boats to be readily available to Jesus, His disciples either had access to them or were well connected with those who did. The fact that these boats were used frequently for extended periods of time is evidence that they were probably under the ownership of one of the disciples, Peter, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, or Nathanael. Therefore, this close examination of the Word reveals that though Peter was with Jesus for extended periods of time, he continued to at least manage his business, though he obviously was not always involved in its day-to-day operation.
With continued study of the scripture, under the power of the Holy Spirit, I have come to believe that not only was Peter involved in his business during three years of ministry with Jesus, but that Jesus, also, was involved in Peter's business.
Let's look at Luke 5:1-7. "One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around Him and listening to the word of God, He saw at the water's edge two boats, left there by the fishermen who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then He sat down and taught the people from the boat. When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, 'Put out into the deep water and let down the nets for a catch.' 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'. When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink."
Jesus asked Simon Peter's permission to use his boat, his business, to teach the people. Christian businessman, Jesus is asking permission to use your boat, your business. He wants to stand in your business and teach the people. When you allow Him, He will teach the people through you from your business, your boat.
Notice that when Peter allowed Him to use the boat, Jesus blessed the business. Simon Peter, an experienced fisherman, knew that they had been fishing all night and had not caught anything and to go fishing in the middle of the day time on the Sea of Galilee made no sense what so ever. But because Jesus said go, he went out and he put down his nets. And he caught so many fish, that he had to signal his partners, probably James and John, to bring their boat over and they were all so filled they almost sank. It was probably the greatest catch of fish ever on the Sea of Galilee. No doubt when they came to shore, they attracted a crowd of people. The rumors, the stories, of this huge success spread everywhere for this meant provision and prosperity for the people who lived in Galilee. It created jobs. This tremendous catch of fish required people to clean the fish, to salt the fish down for preservation, and to distribute and sell the fish. This brought prosperity to the Sea of Galilee. Peter was King of the Sea of Galilee. Knowing the personality of Peter, one might expect that Peter would beat his chest and boast and brag to the gathered crowd of how great a fisherman he was. Today, we would call a news conference and boast of our business success. We would send out press releases with our picture from decades ago to look our best as we would take credit for this tremendous business success. But Peter, it says in verse 8, "...fell at Jesus' knees... for he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken."
I believe that this windfall allowed Peter and his partners to leave their nets temporarily with employees and to follow Jesus. Further, though the scripture does not record it, I believe that there were other miraculous successes in their fishing businesses that allowed them to support their families and to minister with Jesus over the next three years. In the final verse of his gospel, John reminds us that "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written" [John 21:25].
When we allow Jesus to use our business, we too can receive miraculous success in our business. Jesus knows how to manage our business better than we do. If we will allow Him to step into our boat and speak and teach from that boat, then we too can expect such a windfall that we will need help from other businesses to gather all that Jesus has planned for us.