Jesus was very fond of the outdoors. The Gospels have a woodsy smell. He taught in the synagogues, but He seemed to prefer the open air. He would go out on a country road, or down by the beach of the Galilean lake, and the people would eagerly gather around Him, and He would talk to them. One morning He had gone down to the lake shore. The people crowded in about Him and He commenced as usual to talk to them.
But so eager were they not to miss a word that they pressed in about Him very close. He was standing with His back to the water likely, and the people seemed likely to crowd Him over into the water. So He looked around for something to do. He was ever practical to the point of being matter-of-fact. A practical idealist was Jesus, the practical Idealist. Peter was down there, just a short distance off, with his partners and crew in their fishing boats, cleaning up after the night's haul. Lifting His voice a little, Jesus called out, |Peter, will you pull around here, please.|
And Peter did. And Jesus, stepping into the boat, sat down, and went on talking to the people. Interruptions never seemed to disturb Him. He seemed to regard them in the light of possible index fingers pointing out the next thing to be done. Every missionary, foreign and home, has to get practised in just that, while holding steady to his underlying purpose.
When He had finished talking, He turned to Peter and said quietly, |Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.| And Peter smiled at the very idea, as he said, |Master, we've been out the whole night, and haven't caught a thing, nothing but a water haul, but| -- with a thoughtful earnestness taking the place of the critical smile -- |if you say so, of course we will.| And the Master said so. And now they can't handle the haul.
I want to bring to you anew this old word of command from Jesus' lips: |Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.| These men in the story had failed. They had gone out the evening before intending and expecting to bring home a fine haul of fish for the Capernaum or the Bethsaida market. They came back with nothing for the night's work but tired muscles and torn nets. This message is for men who have failed, or who have seemed to fail. There is no failure to an earnest man. A man cannot fail without his own consent. Every seeming failure is the seed of a coming success to earnest men.
If any of us have seemed to fail, our boots have lead in them, and our hearts are heavy too, for lack of success -- this message is for us, |Launch out, and let down.| Failure is very apt to breed discouragement. Your clothing seems damp and heavy with the dew of a fruitless night. Oftentimes the best thing for that is action. Mix yourself with the action of boats and nets and men. That's the Master's word here.