"Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell to his knees before Jesus, 'Master, leave. I'm a sinner and can't handle this holiness. Leave me to myself.' When they pulled in that catch of fish, awe overwhelmed Simon and everyone with him. It was the same with James and John, Zebedee's sons. co-workers with Simon. Jesus said to Simon, 'There is nothing to fear. From now on you'll be fishing for men and women.' They pulled their boats up on the beach, left them, nets and all, and followed Him." Luke 5:8-11 (The Message).
It was all about fishing! The fishermen caught nothing, at first. Jesus caught the fishermen, in the end!
Peter was repelled, and drawn, all at the same time. Why did he say, 'Leave me alone? Get away from me, Jesus,' when he wanted so badly to be with Him? If Jesus knew all about fishing when He had never learnt to fish, what else did He know that left Peter feeling stripped and naked? Was there something about Him that made him feel so vulnerable that he wanted to hide and yet so fascinated that he wanted to stay?
Peter had a big lesson to learn, and so do we. Yes, Jesus' eyes pierced Peter's darkness and bored into the very core of his soul, but never to condemn or consume. Peter needed that reassurance, 'Don't be afraid!' How many times, in the pages of Scripture, does God have to say that to people? We have this idea that God is out to get us. Just let him find out what I am like and He will squash me like a bug.
In Psalm 139, David expressed his vulnerability just like Peter felt. God knew him through and through. Even his thoughts were emblazoned in His sight like neon signs. Trying to hide was futile because God was there, wherever he went. Instead of cringing, however, David celebrated because he had become aware that His presence was reassuring, never threatening. "I look behind me and you're there, then up ahead and you're there, too, your reassuring presence, coming and going." Psalm 139:6 (The Message).
"If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." Psalm 139:9,10 (NIV). David tried to think of the most impossible places to hide but God was always there, waiting to hold and guide him back to safety and sense.
Peter was not alone in this experience. Although he was the central figure, the other fishermen were just as moved as he was. Almost like men in a trance, they abandoned their old, familiar, humdrum lives to follow the rabbi at His invitation without a backward look. They had no idea what they were in for, but it didn't matter. If they were so safe with someone who could read their hearts and still embrace them, then their lives were secure in His hands.
Never in their wildest dreams did the brothers ever imagine that they would become disciples. Their schooling had come to an abrupt end when they failed to qualify for tertiary training at the Beth Talmud. They were bundled off home to learn their dads' fishing skills and make their living off the lake.
What lay ahead was unknown but it was better than the hard work they had to put in to scrape together a living for their families. They didn't even stop to sell off the massive catch of fish that lay entangled in their nets on the beach. They left them for the lucky ones who came by to claim their find.
So magnetic was the person of Jesus that they never gave it another thought. Just imagine -- they didn't even wait to pack up and store their equipment in case it didn't work out for them. Their decision was final. They left everything to follow Him.
Discipleship is like that. It's all or nothing!
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