Have you ever had the feeling that you want Jesus just to leave you alone? To have nothing to do with you whatsoever? I think that is a natural reaction for anyone who knows that Jesus is looking inside of his life. That look makes us very, very uncomfortable.
Jesus had a growing reputation. Word circulated out from Cana where a wedding feast was graced by an unusual miracle. Six large stone pots filled with water became the purest, sweetest wine to ever touch human lips. And the news spread out.
Along the shores of the Sea of Galilee were located nine small towns. The total population would have been approximately 100,000 people. When they learned that Jesus was in the area, they urged Him to teach them.
Two fishing boats were near the shore. One boat was owned by James and John. The other was owned by Simon Peter. The men were in partnership. Jesus walked over to Peter and said, “Will you take me a little ways out from shore?” From the rear of the boat, Jesus sat down and began to teach.
When he finished, Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Take the boat into deep water, and put your nets in the water to catch some fish.”
Peter looked at Jesus and said, “Master, we worked hard all night trying to catch fish, and we caught nothing. But You say to put the nets in the water, so I will” (Luke 5:4-5; NCV).
Some people say that Peter showed great faith in Jesus. I don't think he showed any faith. I think it was simple obedience.
So many people think they don't have faith to do God's will. So much emphasis has been placed on faith, we miss the point of simple obedience. Many times, all that is necessary to accomplish the will of God is to just obey. It does not take any faith to say, “Lord, I will do it because You said it.”
That is what Peter did. Why shouldn't he listen? He had just heard Jesus speak, using his boat as a pulpit. He had heard Jesus say things no one else has ever said. Jesus said nothing that glorified Himself. Everything He said glorified God. Peter was obeying that Teacher.
Peter had to call his partners to haul in the catch. There were so many fish that the nets were beginning to rip and the boats were beginning to sink. At that moment, Simon Peter let go of his net, dropped to his knees, and said, “Depart from me, Lord. I am a sinner.”
Peter knew there were no fish. He had fished all night. He knew those waters. But the size of the catch so staggered his imagination that he instinctively knew, “This is not of man. This is of God.”
It was a peculiar time for introspection, but standing there in his boat, Peter had a moment of truth. He reviewed his life and begged Jesus to leave. Until there is light, you do not know there is darkness, and Peter had just seen the Light.
Jesus could have said, “This is nothing Peter. I made the lake and I made the fish. Catching them is easy.” Jesus could have said, “Peter, you have no idea just how big a sinner you really are.” Instead Jesus said, “Do not be afraid, Peter. You will be a fisher of men.”
Peter did not see a future in himself. With an honest look at his life, he asked Jesus to leave him alone. Instead of holding up before Peter the man he had been, Jesus showed him the man he could become.
Peter was a sinner. He would later deny ever knowing Jesus. But Jesus deals in futures, not in pasts. He takes the life we can have in Him, lays it out and gives us the power to live it.
We say to Jesus, with all honesty, “I am a failure. Depart from me.”
Jesus says, “You are going to be a fantastic success. My grace will make it so.”
What is the measure of your life? Your past, as you've lived it? Or your future, as Jesus has promised it?
(David Sisler's newspaper column, Not For Sunday Only, is in its 14th year of weekly publication. Not for Sunday Only is based on news events, sports, popular songs, motion pictures and personal glimpses. The message is: the Christian faith is an everyday happening it is not for Sunday only. The columns are thoroughly researched, and never indicate denominational bias. For reprint permission, or to subscribe to Not For Sunday Only, contact Mr. Sisler at firstname.lastname@example.org.)