Read Luke 5:4-11
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”
5 “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” 6 And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! 7 A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.
8 When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” 9 For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. 10 His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.
Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” 11 And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus. (NLT)
One sure way to get unpopular is for an amateur to tell an expert what they are doing wrong and how they can do it right. Jesus may have been a capable carpenter but he was not a professional fisherman. So when he tells Peter to try something different to catch fish, he was in dangerous territory. But Peter and his colleagues trust the amateur on the shore and end up with more fish than they can handle.
What we can overlook in this episode is Peter’s reaction to Jesus. He doesn’t just scratch his head in wonder at all the fish. Nor does he ask Jesus how he became an expert so suddenly. He falls on his knees and admits just how sinful he is. He wants Jesus to keep clear of him, not come alongside to help the fishing business.
While we need to approach Jesus as a loving and gracious companion in life, we also need to recognise him as utterly holy and perfect. The grace he offers us is so wonderful because we are so utterly undeserving of it. To admit our imperfections and inadequacy is not a prescription for misery, but a necessary prerequisite for receiving mercy.
We may rightly fall to our knees before Jesus. But he doesn’t make us grovel. Instead, he offers grace and gives us work to do. Like doing a bit of people fishing.