SIM0N PETER’S MELTDOWN
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord: I am a sinful man!” …Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” Luke 5:8,10b.
While Jesus was preaching from Peter’s boat, some fishermen were a short distance away, cleaning their nets. Perhaps Jesus noticed the dejected expression on the men’s faces. They were tired and disappointed because a whole night’s fishing had brought them nothing. That meant no income for that night’s work.
When He had finished preaching, Jesus turned to the men and gave them an unusual instruction. “Push your boats out again and let down your nets for a catch.” They looked at Him in astonishment. Didn’t He know that no-one fishes in daylight? They would be wasting their time. But something in His voice brought a response from Peter. “We’ll do it because you say so.” And they did. The result was so overwhelmingly abundant that both fishing boats were filled with fish, and they battled to keep them afloat.
In that moment, Peter saw something in Jesus’ authority, His words and His action that caused him to fall on his knees before Jesus. How did Jesus know that the fish were there? He didn’t and they weren’t. But Jesus spoke and the fish obeyed His word. By the time the fishermen threw in their nets again, fish had come from all over the lake to the place where the nets had been cast.
Peter saw Jesus as a totally whole person, acting just as God had created man to act, ruling over nature and showing infinite kindness towards a bunch of weary and frustrated businessmen whose labour had brought them nothing. He saw himself not so much as morally corrupt as a fractured and fragmented man who was self-centred and selfish.
The wholeness of Jesus contrasted with his own brokenness, frightened him. He could not bear to be in the company of one who showed him up for what he was. Peter might have been an ordinary fisherman with not much spiritual understanding, but the presence of Jesus awakened in him feelings of inadequacy. He wanted to go far away from this man who made him feel so uncomfortable.
How comforting is Jesus’ response to Peter’s fear! Instead of confirming Peter’s sense of worthlessness, He spoke words which we can take hold of and apply to ourselves. “Peter, I am not here to show you up and make you afraid of me. I am here to go with you on your journey to wholeness.”
Jesus has no interest in making people feel worthless. When we stand next to Him, we feel His perfection and our imperfection, His love, and our lovelessness, but He sees us as already complete because He sees the end from the beginning. Like the disciples, He is calling us to follow Him so that we can become like Him as the Holy Spirit reshapes us to be like Jesus.