Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, when we see you as you really are, and see ourselves as we really are, we have no choice but to cry out like Simon Peter: “Depart from me for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Because when we see your beauty and your greatness, we are completely captured and completely overwhelmed. All we want to do from that moment on is to become more and more like you, leaving all else behind to follow you and to catch men—that is true discipleship. Amen.
Scripture: Luke 5:1-11
Journal: What words in this passage speak most to your life right now? Can you relate to Simon Peter? How? What does it mean for you to put out into the deep? What response arises in your soul as you watch the scene unfold? What does it mean in your life to catch men?
There are three beautiful movements in this story that give a great picture of true discipleship. First, there is an invitation to put out into the deep. In the life of faith, God is always inviting us to deeper and deeper places with him. His desire is that we move further and further into him. We must leave the shallows where we are the ones in control, where we set the agenda and direction, where we only have to trust in ourselves. And we must venture into the deep, where we can’t reach the bottom, where we can’t control or manage or determine our circumstances, where we are in way over our heads. The deep is a place of total surrender, total trust, and total dependence. It is also the place of genuine encounter.
For in the deep we encounter God in a transforming way. When Peter obeys Jesus’ call to put out into the deep he makes a realization, which is the second movement in the process. When Simon Peter puts out into the deep he encounters Jesus in a way he never would have otherwise. And when he genuinely encounters Jesus it completely changes the way he sees everything. Simon Peter’s eyes are opened and he sees how big and awesome and beautiful Jesus really is. And, as a result, he is completely captured and completely overwhelmed by what he sees. His response tells it all, “Depart from me for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” At this point Peter doesn’t refer to Jesus as Master, the way he did before he ventured to the deep, but now he calls him Lord, for he realizes that one who could do something so amazing and miraculous must be the One to whom all things belong. And when Peter sees how big and awesome and beautiful Jesus is, it immediately causes him to see how small and frail and broken he is himself. As a result, a deep humility is born within him. And humility is some of the best possible soil for the life of the Spirit to grow, because humility breaks us open. Humility totally destroys pride. Pride separates and humility unites. Pride judges and humility loves. Pride breeds condescension and humility breeds acceptance.
This work of humility—this realization of who Jesus is and who we are—gets us ready for the final movement of the passage and that is a vocation. Jesus redefines Peter’s vocation, as well as our own. No longer is he a fisherman; that is not his real job. His real job from now on is to catch men. As a result of our encounter with Jesus in the deep, our whole lives are reoriented according to his kingdom and his purposes. The question is no longer, “Where does Jesus fit into my life?” but, “where do I fit in his kingdom and his purposes, and what he is doing in the world?” Thus we, as these new disciples did, pull our boats up on shore, whatever they may be, leave everything behind, and follow him. That is true discipleship.
Closing Prayer: Give us the courage to follow you, Lord Jesus, wherever you may lead and whatever it may cost. Make us true disciples. Amen.