Wednesday, May 4
Reader: “Oh, Lord, please leave me—”
Response: “I’m such a sinful man.”
Scripture: Luke 5:1-11
One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”
“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.
When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.
Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.
Those of you who went to Sunday School as little kids years ago may remember the little song, “I Will Make You Fishers of Men,” which often followed the telling of this story. You may even remember the hand motions that go with it! All three of the Synoptics relate this event, but Luke gives the most detailed account.
At this point in Jesus’ ministry, large crowds followed him everywhere. People were pushing so close, he needed to give himself a little space from them in order to address the whole crowd. So he asked to borrow a boat. Speaking from a boat with his voice carrying over the water would actually help the acoustics. (The human voice has been heard for a distance of 10 miles at night over still water.) Jesus borrowed one of Peter’s boats and sat in it as he taught the crowd. Rabbis usually sat when they taught.
During the day fish often go to the deeper water where it is cooler and come more to the surface to feed at night when the surface water is not as warm. There is some irony in Jesus’ directive as a Jewish rabbi tells professional fishermen how to fish! There are some oddities in his request. First, he told them to go to deep water to fish during the day. Second, their nets are not deep water nets. Third, they had been fishing all night and caught nothing, why would they catch something at this time in the day? Fourth, fish have more trouble seeing the nets at night in reduced light. In other words, fish have better luck seeing and avoiding the nets in daylight.
After reminding Jesus of their fishing frustration during the previous night, Peter gave a kind of reluctant, “OK, we’ll do it if you say so!” And you know what happened. The miracle put Peter on his knees before the Lord repenting of his sin. The other gospels record Jesus’ words, “Come, follow me.” Immediately, Peter and Andrew and James and John left everything on the spot and followed Jesus the rest of their lives.
So what is here for us? When the Lord asks you to do something, do it right away, don’t wait. Following Jesus is for life. Don’t be afraid, he knows what’s coming. Jesus still does miracles. The morning of each new day begins with his words, “Come, follow me”―including today. “I will make you fishers of men, fishers of men, fishers of men . . .”
Music: “Lift High the Cross” Chris Rupp
O Lord, let me not henceforth desire health or life except to spend them for you, with you and in you. You alone know what is good for me; do therefore what seems best to you. Give to me or take from me; conform my will to yours; and grant that with humble and perfect submission and in holy confidence I may receive the orders of your eternal providence, and may equally adore all that comes to me from you as I follow you the rest of my days on earth. This I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen. ―Blaise Pascal, 1623-1662 from Eerdmans’ Book of Famous Prayers, p.56, adapted Daniel Sharp
Bonus Clip: from “The Chosen” Jesus calls Peter 9:35https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z49zw1jMPo4