Thursday, January 27, 2011

Peter Fell in the Fish at Jesus' Knees

In Luke 5 we read of how Jesus called Peter and his other "inner circle" disciples to follow him. They had already been following him as their Master (John 1:35-42) for some time, but now Jesus is calling them higher (Calvin); He is giving them an assignment in his kingdom that will change their future (they will leave all and follow him from this point).

But Jesus didn't just explain this calling and ask them what they thought. He showed them the humbling power of God!

Jesus had been teaching the crowds from Peter's boat, near the shore. After his teaching he told Peter, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch" (5:4). Here's the first lesson. Jesus' assignments and calling are sometimes inconvenient. Peter had already finished fishing; he had "clocked out." And he had already washed his nets (v2)! This was a hassle. But his respect for Jesus caused him to obey. Sometimes Jesus' call, or his leading, will be inconvenient for us. Think of the lover knocking on his beloved's door in Song of Solomon 5:2-6. She had already gone to bed; she had already washed her feet; it was inconvenient to get back out of bed and open the door for her beloved! But when she finally got up and opened the door, he was gone. She missed him. We can't wait till it's convenient to answer the call!

It also seemed useless to Peter. He had already fished all night and caught nothing! HE was the professionsal fishermen here, after all. He knew when the fish would be biting, right? But though it was inconvenient, and seemed useless, Peter obeyed...and found a blessing! The biggest catch of his career! It's not useless to follow the leading of Christ.

When Peter saw the amazing catch of fish (the nets were breaking and the boats were sinking!) he realized that he had seen the power of God. This was no coincidence. It wasn't just that Jesus was smart, and somehow knew where the fish were; more than this! Peter knew the power of God had caused those fish to come into the nets. The one who was Lord of the sea and everything in it had shown his power over creation. Peter may not have now realized the fullness of who Jesus was, but he knew that God's mighty power was at work. Peter was in the presence of God!

What do you do when you get into the presence of God? We seek God's presence, we want God to reveal himself to us; but when he does... Now we want to get away. We understand that God is holy, and we are sinful. Peter fell down in the fish at Jesus' knees, and said, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (v8). Peter humbled himself before God. When we grasp God's holiness and know our sinfulness, we fall down.

Isaiah did this in his vision of God. He saw the Lord high and lifted up! There was smoke and shaking and glory. Isaiah did not dance and shout. He cried out, "Woe is me! For I am lost! For I am a man of unclean lips.." (Isaiah 6:5). When he saw God he realized his sinfulness, and he humbled himself.

Have you found yourself in the presence of God? Have you been made aware of God's holiness and your sinfulness? Have you humbled yourself before God? Have you fallen in the fish at Jesus' knees?

There's more! When we humble ourself before God, he comforts us. He gives grace. When Isaiah cried out about his sin, God sent the seraphim to touch his lips with the coal. Then God sent Isaiah out with a message. Grace came, the sin was dealt with, and the servant was sent.

In Peter's case, when he fell down in the fish and confessed his sinfulness in the presence of Christ, he said, "Depart from me." But Jesus did not depart. He departs at pride, but he comes to us with tenderness in our humility. Jesus told Peter, "Do not be afraid. From now on you will be catching men" (v11). Grace came in the moment of humility, and the servant was sent. When the boat reached shore, "they left everything and followed him" (v11).

The "inner circle" disciples had been called! Now they would be catching men. And the same God who is Lord of the sea - who powerfully draws the fish into the fishermen's nets - is also Lord of the harvest (Luke 10:2). Through the preaching of these servants he will draw men to Christ (John 6:44)!

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