When they did this, they caught a great number of fish, and their nets began to tear. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them; they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink (5:6-7 CSB).
As already said, in this passage we see a supernatural act of the Lord Jesus. He had taught the people about the kingdom (reign) of God (Jesus constantly taught this truth), and after the teaching he gave a select few a miraculous sign to demonstrate the reality of God’s reign among them. God used signs and wonders to confirm the truth. This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will (Hebrews 2:3b-4 NIV).
So then, what do we see in this miraculous sign? It was an act outside of normal human experience. Peter and his friends had seen empty nets (the preceding night) and since they were professional fishermen, they had doubtless seen their nets relatively full. But this event was far beyond any other fishing trips they had been on. Their nets became so full of fish that they started to tear. Can you picture the scene? When I was young and used to go fishing with my dad, he would tell me to be quiet so the fish wouldn’t be frightened away. Be that as it may, I know that when fishermen catch fish, they can be a rather noisy lot. Many exclamations would have filled the air as the fish filled their nets. They had to call for another boat to handle the catch.
It was an act that showed Christ’s all-ability. Jesus could have given them a few fish in their nets, and they could easily have dismissed that. He could have given them many, and they could have chalked that up to an unusual but fortunate catch. However, he did something amazing. Their nets were filled with fish, so many that their nets began to break. But even more, because as they brought the fish into their boats and their partners, both boats began to sink. This demonstrated that he had power to do far more than they could imagine, much beyond what any mere human could do. Jesus’ words about the kingdom of God having arrived were matched by this proof of visible kingdom power.
It was an act that produced a humble confession of sinfulness (5:8-10a). Peter became aware of Jesus’ holiness and his own sinful condition. While Peter still had much to learn, he knew that Jesus is Lord. This is an essential part of conversion (cf. Romans 10:9-10).
Finally, it was an act that produced a call to service (5:10b-11). More on this later.
Grace and peace,