Monday, February 1, 2010

Just Good Enough?

You can hear Simon Peter's grudging reluctance in Luke 5:1-11 Peter and his fellow fishermen have already been working all night without any reward for their labor. They are tired and disappointed and want to go home to get some rest. But Jesus had started teaching while they were washing their nets and a crowd had gathered to hear him speak. It was such a crowd, in fact, that Jesus had commandeered a boat, Peter's boat, so that he could teach from a few feet off shore, providing enough space between himself and the crowd so that everyone could hear. Peter must have been eager for Jesus to finish speaking so that he could haul in his boat for the day and head home. Instead, when Jesus is finished speaking, he makes yet another request of Peter. Jesus asks Peter to put the boat out into deeper water and to cast his nets again. That must have been the last thing Peter wanted to do. "Lord, we worked had all night and caught nothing but I will do as you say and let down the nets." Maybe Peter felt obligated to do as Jesus said because Jesus had healed his mother in law. Maybe Peter was tired but obedient because he knew that Jesus could do the miraculous. Or maybe Peter thought Jesus should stick to his area of expertise, religious teaching, and leave Peter to his, catching fish. What could Jesus possibly know about these waters, that Peter, the professional fisherman, did not? Whatever was going through Peter's mind, he reluctantly forced his tired body to follow Jesus' command and the result was a catch of fish so large that it nearly broke his nets and sunk his boats.

Of course, the real catch here was not the fish but Peter himself. The real miracle was not a quantity of fish so large that it resulted in broken nets but that Peter recognized his own brokenness. Somehow a net full of fish caused Peter to say to Jesus "Go away from me Lord for I am sinful man, O Lord!" Somewhere in the midst of hauling in that once in a lifetime catch, Peter moved from reluctant recipient to genuine disciple. Any other day, I have to imagine Peter's first thought would have been to rush this massive catch of fish to market or to whoever his regular buyer was so that he could profit from this enormous good fortune. But Luke says "When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him". Peter left behind what must have been the largest, most profitable catch of his life as a fisherman, as well as all he had ever invested in, his nets and his boats, to follow Jesus.

We often have a tendency to think of life in terms of good or bad. We think that as long as we fill our lives with good things and avoid bad things then we are on the right track. But sometimes the biggest distractions in our lives aren't bad things but good things that we give too much importance. Peter's catch of fish was a good thing, a very good thing, probably the highlight of his career. But Peter could see enough to know that it wasn't the best thing in front of him. So Peter left everything and followed Jesus.

1 comment:

Christy Gunter said...

Thanks for this Dave. I needed to hear that this morning. -- Christy Gunter