Luke 4: 1-30 and Luke 5:1-11:
The whole section from McLaren dealt with Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, His entrance into ministry, His preaching in Nazareth and then his message beside the sea sitting in Peter’s boat. What followed this sermon, was Jesus’ request to Peter to push off into the deeper water let down your net. Peter objected, simply saying, that he and his partners had been fishing all night, but Peter simply did what Jesus asked instead of refusing. Peter said, “because you say so,” and let down the net.
To let down those nets meant going against everything Peter knew about fish and fishing. Everyone would have told him to let down his nets in the morning, or midday was foolhardy. No fish would be there at that point in the day. Peter could have leaned into his years of experience on the Sea of Galilee and explained to Jesus why this was a bad idea. But Peter chose beyond saying, “Master we have been fishing all night,” doesn’t raise an objection. He just says, “because you say so,” and let’s down his net.
What followed shocked the sandals off Peter. That net filled with fish, indeed, filled and began to tear. Pete called to his partners and their nets and boat too was filled with flopping fish at which sight Peter fell before Jesus and said an interesting thing, “Depart from me Master, for I am a sinful man…”
Why this statement? What might we learn about the impact Jesus’ miracle had had upon Peter to cause Peter to recognize his own sinfulness?
At noon under a blazing sun, even the shadows are lighter. Everything stands out in bold relief. And in the blazing light of this unnecessary, extravagant, miraculous gift into Peter’s life and that of his partners -- a bounty, a boon, a bonus -- Peter saw himself clearly. He didn’t deserve this. He couldn’t earn it. He would never be able to repay it. It was grace, unmerited, and impossible to comprehend, and in comparison, Peter knew himself well enough to know, he could never measure up. No wonder he fell on his face asking Jesus to depart. His only understanding of God was that he needed to do something to earn this, and couldn’t.
Jesus doesn’t respond as we might expect. He doesn’t say, “Stop groveling!” He doesn’t reprimand Peter. He gets the real issue here, and says, “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will be catching men.” And upon reaching shore, they all abandoned their boats, the amazing catch, and their gear and follow Jesus.
They went from experts to apprentices of this radical, unusual, amazing Rabbi. They followed in order to become like Him. That was the whole idea, to become like the Rabbi, to do what the Rabbi did. As apprentices we too have the same goal, and as the Spirit works within us as we practice following Jesus, He will achieve this goal in us as well.
Come on! Join the adventure! Follow the Savior into church -- let’s worship!