From Pastor Kenny's Desk
February 10, 2019
One day, Jesus was standing by Lake Gennesaret, and the crowd pressed in on him to hear the word of God. He saw two boats moored by the side of the lake; the fishers had disembarked and were washing their nets. Jesus stepped into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to pull out a short distance from the shore; then, remaining seated, he continued to teach the crowds from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Pull out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Rabbi, we’ve been working hard all night long and have caught nothing; but if you say so, I’ll lower the nets.”
Upon doing so, they caught such a great number of fish that their nets were at the breaking point. They signaled to their mates in the other boat to come and help them, and together they filled the two boats until they both nearly sank.
After Simon saw what happened, he was filled with awe and fell down before Jesus, saying, “Leave me, Rabbi, for I’m a sinner.” For Simon and his shipmates were astonished at the size of the catch they had made, as were James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were Simon’s partners.
Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you’ll fish among humankind.” And when they brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
~ Luke 5:1-11
I love this story.
I love the idea of Jesus … desperate for a little space from which to speak to the crowds pressing upon him … just commandeering Simon’s boat.
And I love that Simon just lets him. I mean, he’d been fishing all night and probably wanted to finish cleaning up and get home to bed. But he takes Jesus out anyway. We don’t know why. Maybe it’s that he knew Jesus and was used to this kind of thing. Or maybe he’s so grateful that Jesus healed his mother-in-law that there’s not much he wouldn’t do for Jesus. Or maybe he was just that kind of a guy, the kind of guy who would push out from shore even though he was dead tired just because you asked. We don’t know. He just does it. And I love that.
And I love that when he’s all done teaching, Jesus isn’t actually all done. And that Simon again does something that doesn’t make sense, letting down his nets after he’d been fishing all night and caught nothing.
And I love to imagine the expression on the fishermen’s faces as they struggle to haul in this catch, call their friends to help, and barely get their nets to shore.
And I have to say I even love the idea that however much Simon thinks he knows Jesus, he only now realizes that he really doesn’t know him, that he’s only just beginning to realize who and what Jesus is, and that it scares him a little.
And I love what Jesus says to him: Do not be afraid. It’s the emphasis of Luke’s story; maybe the emphasis of the gospel. Jesus comes so that we don’t have to be afraid anymore. I love that. And then Jesus gives Simon something to do, something bigger and larger than anything he’d ever imagined. And I love that, too.
Of course, the story’s not quite done. Because after these words, the fishermen give everything up … their professions, their livelihood, their family and friends, everything … in order to follow Jesus. Quite frankly, I can’t say I love that. To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about that. What would I give up everything … my possessions, my fears, my disappointments, my pain and brokenness, my hopes and dreams … for? Would I do it for this? … To care for others, to help those who are hungry, those who suffer from the effects of racism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, those who are effected by bigotry of race and gender not to mention trusting and surrendering to God’s love and grace by working on the dysfunctions of life that cause me pain, doubt and fear? Would I do it for Jesus? Can I believe that God’s love is sufficient and embrace all of who I am as the Beloved of God and affirm this same truth for others? What about you?