Did Simon Peter, James, and John know who Jesus was at this point in the Gospel? As I read back through the previous chapter I think there is ample evidence that they probably knew who He was but didn't know Him intimately. He had been healing the sick and casting out demons before He met the fishermen. He even healed Peter's mother-in-law but we aren't told if Peter is around for that, or even asked for it ;-)
So it appears that when Jesus arrives seaside Peter is intrigued to finally meet this man that he has heard so much about. He and his partners haven't had the opportunity to hear Jesus because they work at fishing all night and sleep most of the day. It isn't surprising then that Peter agrees to allow Jesus to preach from his boat.
As is the case so often in Scripture, here too I would love to know what Jesus said from that boat on the water. Too often we are told that Jesus preached to the crowds but not what He preached. Whatever the words, they must have had an impact on Simon Peter. He agrees to follow the suggestion of this "carpenter's son" to lower his nets, once more. This in itself is remarkable because by the time Jesus finished His teaching, the other men probably had the nets cleaned, repaired, folded, and stored for the next evening's work. Perhaps too, that is another reason they left everything...
The catch is huge, they call others for help in bringing it in. Peter realizes that he is witnessing a miracle. Maybe there really is something to this itinerant preacher who supposedly has healed the sick and cast out demons. Those things Jesus did for others, true or not in Peter's eyes. However, this load of fish speaks to Peter. The Lord meets him where he's at, in his work, in his day to day. He does the same for us, if we listen, if we cast out into the deep and trust.
Rather than abandon our boat, nets, and livelihood, I think most of us would try to use Jesus as a fish-finder. You know, take Him out on the boat and have Him tell us where to throw our nets. After all, Peter and his partners were facing a financial difficulty that morning and now they have one of the biggest hauls of their lives! The won the fisherman lottery. This Jesus could be their secret weapon to destroy the competition. They could get a fleet of boats together and create a multi-billion shekel business! Peter could be the CEO! Peter would in fact be the "CEO" but Jesus had other ideas for the type of fishing they would do.
One final thought, we've often talked about when God says "no" and here we have a great example of that in the calling of Peter. Peter, filled with zeal as he often was, cries out, "Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man." It's a prayer of sorts, one of humility and guilt. He is convicted by his doubt and perhaps his ridicule of others who believed in Jesus' power. Luckily for Peter and us, God says, "no". He knows Peter is sinful but He will not leave. He knows we are sinful but He will not leave. He says, "no" to Peter, James, John, you, and me. I'm glad He does.
So, perhaps we can take a little artistic license with Scripture today and twist some words to make Peter's prayer a little better and maybe touches even more deeply the Sacred Heart. Maybe we can simply change two words to express what our hearts really desire - "Stay with me Lord, for I am a sinful man."
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