By Mike Willis
In the last two issues of this paper, I have been reviewing the concept that Jesus did not have inherent power to work miracles. In the first two articles, I examined the passages sometimes cited to prove that Jesus did not have inherent power to show that, rather than affirming that Jesus did not have inherent power to work miracles, they show the oneness of the Godhead. In this last article of this series, I want to examine one miracle which shows that Jesus had omnipotence, omniscience, and holiness while he was on earth. All three of these can be seen from one of his many miracles the miraculous draught of fish when Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John to be his disciples. Here is the text:
And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, and saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, 0 Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him (Lk. 5:1-11).
The miracle occurred while Jesus was preaching beside the Sea of Galilee. The crowd was so great that he needed a pulpit. Jesus requested that Peter allow him to use his boat as a pulpit. Peter quickly agreed to Jesus’ request since this was not his first acquaintance with Jesus (he was one of those introduced to Jesus by John the Baptist [Jn. 1:40-41], and Jesus had previously healed Peter’s mother-in-law [Lk. 4:38-39]).
After completing his preaching, Jesus instructed Peter to move his boat into the deep water and cast down his nets. There were two things uncommon about Jesus’ instructions: (a) The usual time for fishing was night (note the four had worked all night, 5:5) and (b) it was the wrong place (usually the nets would have been cast into shallow water). What did the son of the carpenter from Galilee know about fishing? Nevertheless, Peter responded, “Master… at thy word I will let down the net” (5:5).
How did Jesus know where were the fish in the Sea of Galilee? His way of knowing where were the fish in the Sea of Galilee was not natural, i.e. that he was a superior fisherman. He knew where they were because he was the omniscient God! On another occasion he knew exactly where a fish would be that contained a coin in its mouth and instructed Peter to catch that fish and pay their taxes with the coin (Matt. 17:27). He knew where individuals would be and what they would be doing at this or that particular moment in time (Mk. 14:13; Jn. 1:48-49). He knew the thoughts and hearts of men (Lk. 5:22; In. 2:25). Peter truly was correct when he said about Jesus, ‘Lord, thou knowest all things” (Jn. 21:17). Indeed, Jesus retained his omniscience while he was on earth.
Not only was Jesus omniscient, he was also omnipotent. This is displayed in this miracle by his directing the fish into the net of Peter. He who created the fish of the sea directed them into the nets of Peter. He who had the power to calm the winds and waves, turn five loaves and two fish into enough food to feed a multitude, and walk on water, also manifested his omnipotent power by controlling the fish in the Sea of Galilee on this occasion.
When Peter saw the miracle which Jesus performed, he reacted as men generally act in the presence of God. He said, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man” (Lk. 5:8). Peter is not said to have been more sinful than any of the other apostles. Instead, he recognized that he was in the presence of God. He reacted to being in the presence of God the same as did Isaiah when he was given the vision of the throne of God. Isaiah said, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:5). He reacted like Manoah (Judg. 13:20) and John (Rev. 1:17). Man generally thought that he could not see the face of God and live (Exod. 33:20 and cross references). Not only did Peter recognize the holiness of Christ while on earth, so also did the demons. They referred to him as the “Holy One” (Mk. 1:24; Lk. 4:34; remember that “the Holy One of Israel” was a favorite expression of Isaiah to refer to God).
Nevertheless, some are saying that Jesus laid aside his holiness when he became a man. What proof could one give to show that Jesus laid aside his holiness? The only way that I can think of to show that Jesus laid aside his holiness when he became a man would be to cite an example of sin in his life. This would certainly prove that he was not holy. Will those who deny that Jesus retained his holiness while on earth join the enemies of Christ in citing examples of his “sin”? Of course not! This brethren respect the word of God too much to affirm that there was ever sin in Jesus’ life. In the absence of sin, which all admit never occurred, then Jesus was always holy! He never gave up his absolute holiness!
This simple record of the miraculous draught of fish, a miracle with which we have been familiar since childhood, is enough to show that Jesus retained his omniscience, omnipotence, and holiness while on earth.
We may not understand how Jesus could be truly God and truly man while on earth, even as we cannot under-stand how any miracle is performed, but we can believe and teach what the Bible says. Let us emphasize those passages which show the unity of the Godhead and let us emphasize those passages which affirm that Jesus retained his divine attributes while on earth. May God bless our study of the nature of the incarnate God, Jesus Christ.
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 15, p. 2
August 5, 1993