On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
Contrast with Christ
When we know very little about him, Jesus seems like an ordinary man. Gandhi did remarkable things for India and the cause of peace in the world, but he was an ordinary man. The book of James tells us that Elijah was an ordinary man like us, but when he asked his extraordinary God to keep the rains from falling, or to come once more, his prayers were powerfully effective. However, when Jesus commands the fisherman to fish in ways that are miraculous, Jesus’ power over nature causes them to fall down and worship. Peter knows that something about Jesus is exceptional, other, or holy.
Sometimes I treat Jesus like he is a mere idea to be thought about. At other times I think of Jesus as I would think of a wise teacher among other wise men. However, Jesus transcends all our expectations. In fact he brings new expectations to our lives and takes us to unanticipated locations to perform deeds we would not have dreamed of. The times when I have been most alive are the times when I have been most aware that Jesus is not just a man, but that he is both man and God. Modern scholars often laugh at the idea of the Christ. They feel that the idea of the God-Man is an idea for simpletons. When one intellectually grows up, one puts away myths and fables to embrace the historical Jesus. This Jesus is merely a zealot, a revolutionary, or a primitive physician. However many people reinterpret the gospels to make them palatable to our cynical minds, the eye-witness accounts point beyond a social reformer to a cosmic reality that transcends time. God was working a plan in time that was born in eternity.
How do we respond? Do we grow beyond faith to rational indifference? Is faith a sign of immaturity? Kierkegaard took issue with Hegel’s worship of reason and retold the story of Abraham and Isaac at Mount Moriah to illustrate his point. The greatness of Abraham was his capacity to trust and to have faith. The greatness of Peter is not to rationalize how an itinerant preacher knows more about fishing than he does. The greatness of Peter is his immediate humility and submission to a power that he knows to be infinitely greater than himself.
Jesus, I see that you are no mere man, but you are a man. I see that you worked miracles, but you are more than a miracle worker. You are the one who calls us. Equips us. Sends us. May our response be more like Peter.
- Where is Jesus preaching?
- What is the fisherman’s role to begin with?
- Why does Jesus perform a miracle in their own line of work?
- If Jesus performed a miracle in your line of work, what would he do?
- If he walked away from the results of the miracle and asked you to follow, would you go?