Peter the fisherman had listened to Jesus’ oratory, whilst sitting in the boat, along with his brother Andrew. But suddenly, and unexpectedly, the Lord turned to him and asked for the nets to be let down. “Master, we toiled all night and caught nothing.” But Peter was thinking to himself, “I admire this Man for His words and teaching, but He knows nothing about fishing. Night-time is best for that job, when the fish come to the surface. . . . .” However, perhaps grudgingly, he said, “Nevertheless, at Your word I’ll let down the nets.” Peter’s unspoken assessment was his undoing when the catch was so large as to break the nets and swamp, not only his boat, but that if his associates James and John. The effect of the miracle was to bring repentance. “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Luke 5:8
Job’s arguments with his three friends brought neither light nor understanding to his sad situation, but then the Lord appeared to him, and he said, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:5-6. The miracle of the Lord’s presence brought repentance.
Isaiah was granted a magnificent vision of the Lord, seated on His throne, and this was Isaiah’s response. “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 my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts.” Isaiah 6:5.
Our Lord’s ministry was mainly centred at Capernaum, where He performed a vast number of miraculous healings. But near the end of those three and a half years, this was His assessment.
“And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.” Matthew 11:23
“The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and, behold, a greater than Jonah is here.” Mt 12:41
Miracles were (and still are) intended to bring men to the realisation of God’s presence, His power, His holiness, and also their own sinfulness, thereby producing repentance. But this seldom happens. The man with the gift of healing, for example, is sought by all, as a means of obtaining relief from suffering. His elevation may cause him embarrassment. The multitudes treated the Lord in this way. But as we have seen, sometimes the miraculous produces repentance, as the Holy Spirit touches heart and conscience.
Zechariah spoke prophetically about a future time when, as in most times of revival, the greater majority will repent.
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one who is in bitterness for his firstborn. Zech. 12:10
This, of course, was the experience of Saul of Tarsus, and it can happen at any time, to anyone, when the Spirit of the Lord causes that person to become aware of God’s presence, and his own sinfulness.
In the midst of all the distressing scenes that now afflict the world, may it not be a propitious moment for us all to spread our hands before the Lord and ask for His presence to be seen across the world? That “the covering cast over all people, the veil spread over all nations” be destroyed, as prophesied by Isaiah? (25:7) This, rather than sitting back waiting for a rapture to remove us from the scene?