One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were 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 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.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken. . . .
. . . Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed Him. (Luke 5:1-11)
Simon Peter. One of my favorite people in the Bible. Bold, brash, mouth often painfully full of his own foot . . . but some of the best, most faith-filled phrases in the Bible are uttered by him. Including this one: “Because you say so.”
Can you picture the scene? This ragtag group of men had been fishing all night in these waters, quite unsuccessfully. Tired, hungry, ready to go home and grab a bite of figs and olives, maybe ready to take whatever passed for a shower in those days and then try to get a few winks. But Jesus is about to change the course of their day . . . and the rest of their lives. Simon Peter is taking care of his nets after the long night when Jesus climbs into his boat and asks him to put out a little from shore so he can preach to the crowd of people that has been following him. Instead of complaining, Simon agrees and gets a front-row seat to Jesus’ words. After Jesus is done speaking to the people, he tells Simon to go out a little deeper and let down his now cleaned and organized nets . . . into the same water those men were fishing all night. Basically, what it looks like from the outside is that a carpenter is telling a professional fisherman how to do his job. And Simon answers, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
Because you say so.
Because you say so, I will ignore all my experience as a professional fisherman and drop my nets one more time into the same water I’ve fished all night.
Because you say so, I will unfurl my clean nets and let them fall into the dirty water again instead of heading home to my warm bed and my fig bar.
Because you say so, I will forgo my own thoughts and wishes and listen to a carpenter from Nazareth.
And Simon’s reward for trust and obedience? An abundance. Overflowing blessings, this time in the form of fish enough to break those nets and almost sink those boats. Their failed fishing trip became a resounding success. Because of Jesus. Because he says so.
This struck me, not only because of the extreme miracle but because Simon Peter and the others weren’t even disciples yet. They had maybe been hearing about this guy Jesus and some of the miracles he had been doing. They had not yet witnessed one firsthand. And yet Simon Peter answered, “Because you say so.”
If that phrase rings familiar to you, you might be a parent. Parents everywhere, at some point in their careers as parents, have answered their children with those infamous words, “Because I said so.” When we say this phrase, it is often to assert our authority over our kids. We don’t want them to ask why we are making a certain decision; we just want them to accept it. Simon Peter didn’t question Jesus when Jesus asked him to throw his nets over the side again. Jesus didn’t have to answer, “Because I said so.” Jesus’ authority simply was, and somehow Simon Peter knew it and felt it. His obedience was an expression of his love and trust. Trust in a man he was just starting to know. Which begs the question: how much more can we put our trust and obedience in Jesus? We know of his miracles. We know of the promises he’s kept. We know that when “he says so,” it is for our benefit.
Sometimes God seems to ask a lot of us. Hopefully, because we know him—his authority, his goodness—we can answer like Peter did:
“God, I don’t understand this, but because you say so . . . ”
“I don’t feel like loving my neighbor right now, but because you say so . . .”
“Lord, the world says I can act on these feelings, but because you say so . . .”
“Jesus, I don’t think I could ever be forgiven for this sin, but because you say so . . .”
What a freeing statement that is. Because you say so.
And maybe we can take another cue from Simon Peter and his fishing buddies. Those fishermen who had just had the biggest catch of their lives (no fish tales necessary), stopped being fishermen. They pulled their boats up on shore, left everything, and followed Jesus. What they had just seen and experienced caused them to leave everything behind in pursuit of this life with Jesus. They realized they had just met the guy who had the authority to say the word and give them everything they ever needed, and they were ready to give up everything for him.
Because you say so.