The Gospels are full of stories about Peter: impetuous, impatient, hyper-vigilant, passionate Peter. In Luke chapter five we see that Peter had already agreed to follow this guy named Jesus. He had already made that huge, monumental, life-altering, anti-establishment decision. Peter had even gone so far as to open his home to the community for healing and teaching. So, why was Peter so scared of Jesus in this story?
I can see myself in Peter as he was routinely doing the mundane task of cleaning his nets, pre-occupied with the no-catch night and no-income day. Inevitably, Peter was making a mental to-do list for the coming day which probably included, “how the heck am I supposed to feed this leeching crowd when I didn’t even have a catch today?”
Had Peter even asked Jesus what he needed of him, or had he merely assumed and then waited for a stamp of approval on his to-do list plans?
Peter was enough into Jesus that he did have the where-with-all to obey and grudgingly put his nets back out again. He didn’t think he’d catch anything, because after all, Peter was the expert in these matters! Nevertheless, he obliged Jesus, but not without voicing his doubts.
The consequence of his obedience, the miracle of an abundant, overflowing catch in Peter’s boat, jarred him into abject confessional humility! Peter couldn’t adequately articulate the explosion of realizations and emotions erupting in his very core, but Jesus knew and said to Peter, “don’t be afraid!”
Sometimes, when we look into the mirror of Jesus’ heart and really see what He expects of us, it’s quite frightening. Nevertheless, when we are known so completely, as Jesus knew Peter, and totally accepted for who we are, the debilitating fear is transformed. Those scary epiphanies of unworthiness become the very cornerstone on which Jesus can build His kingdom of love and mercy. How else can we be of service to all those hovering needy crowds unless we can first identify the same dire needs within ourselves?
Am I so busy implementing my to-do list in service to Jesus that I forget to ask Him first what He needs of me?
When He had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing! But at your word, I will lower the nets.”