Luke 5:1-11 (NRSV)
Chapter 5Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, Verse 2he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Verse 3He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. Verse 4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." Verse 5Simon answered, "Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets." Verse 6When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. Verse 7So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. Verse 8But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!" Verse 9For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; Verse 10and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people." Verse 11When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
Simon Peter’s own expertise advised against Jesus’ recommendation to put out the nets yet again. It was hopeless; they had fished all night. Maybe it was simple respect that caused Simon to obey, but our gospel story hints that something more is at stake in the presence of this strange preacher by the sea. And when hopelessness was denied; when the impossible was revealed as possible, Simon Peter knew he was in the presence of Holiness. His first response is telling. Overcome not so much by the amazing catch as with his own faults and failings, he turns away in shame, pleading with Jesus to turn away from his unworthiness.
But God doesn’t leave us mired in our sins. God’s grace in Jesus Christ wants to write a different story about our identity, and calls us like Peter into loving service. All things are possible with God.
O God, fear and doubt intermingle with hope and trust most days, if we are honest. Let us be wise with what we know, and humble with what is beyond our understanding. Help us to believe that we are truly your beloved children—all of us, the whole world over. Amen.