When we last met, Jesus had encouraged the disciples to return to open water for some fishing, even though they’d just suffered through a fishless night. So, they begin fishing again, and the nets, once empty, are now filled to the point of breaking! “They came and filled the boats, so that they began to sink.” Something miraculous happens there on the water, right in the middle of their normal, sort of everyday lives.
Jesus changed the fruitlessness of their lives with his presence. We see that in this story, and we see that as Jesus connects to our lives. He changes our lives, our everyday, regular lives, with his presence. Our response, of course, is simply faith. We simply must follow.
power and authority
Jesus appears teaching the word of God in power and authority, and he performs a great miracle – not healing the blind, stilling a storm, or raising the dead, just an everyday sort of provision with nets full of fish (cf. Eduard Schweizer, The Good News According to Luke, p. 102). We see that powerful connection between the teaching of Jesus and the miracles of Jesus in this moment. Even though we don’t really hear what Jesus preaches, Luke tells us several times of the powerful call of God’s word. And that power is connected to this miracle on the water of the overflowing nets.
So, Peter doesn’t challenge the word of Jesus, but he obeys. He follows on the water, and then follows on the road. Would we do the same? In Peter’s response to Jesus, he witnesses this amazing miracle. All this happens – the power of God’s word and the miraculous catch – right in the middle of their regular lives.
Now we know that Peter obeyed that initial word from Jesus, but how does Peter respond after the miracle?
responding to the miraculous
When confronted with the presence and power of God in Jesus, he responds by falling before the Lord and confessing his unworthiness as a sinner.
It’s very much like Isaiah 6.1-13 as Isaiah sees the King of Heaven in the Temple: “Woe is me!I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts!” When confronted with the presence and power of the divine, Peter falls at the feet of Jesus.
Jesus responds to Peter, though, in a very interesting way: “Do not be afraid,” (which is typical when people are confronted with the divine presence); “from now on you will be catching people, (which is surprising in its connection to their normal, sort of everyday lives). Jesus calls, the people respond, and then Jesus moves, again.
they left everything
The story that is drawn for us includes the regular lives of these fisherman; it includes the presence and power of Jesus; and it includes the word of God in the call to follow and the teaching of Jesus. All those elements, when drawn together, bring us to the most important part: they brought their boats to the shore, left everything, and followed Jesus.
What’s most important is not the work the disciples do, as in fishing, but what we see in their lives, particularly their response to Jesus. What we discover about Peter is that this is his life lived in the presence of God; and he left everything and followed Jesus.
In the end, Peter’s response is one of faith, and it, with the other disciples, represents a real change – a total turning around – in their lives because of the presence and call of Jesus. They are no longer the same.
the divine interplay
Once upon a time, Jesus appeared. He still appears in the regularity of our lives, just day-to-day. Jesus moves in power, and, just like Peter and the disciples, we can have a response to him – one of faith. We can follow him. Like this story, there is the divine interplay between the word of God and miracle in our lives, and there really is only one response: faith — following him.
How is Jesus calling you? Remember the response of the disciples: they brought their boats to the shore, and they followed him.
Explore the texts for this post: Luke 5.1-11, 27-32.