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So as I sit down right now to organize my thoughts on what I read in the Scriptures earlier today I realized that blind spots (a nicer way to say, “stupid”) happen to all of us.
In Luke 5:1-11, the crowds have gathered to hear Jesus speak. Because there are so many of them and everyone is pressing for a front row seat, Jesus steps into a boat—specifically one belonging to Simon. When He is finished speaking, Jesus tells Simon to go fishing. Now Simon and his friends have been up all night fishing and haven’t caught a minnow. Broad daylight wouldn’t normally increase their chances of catching anything. But Simon is not so dull that he doesn’t recognize that the One who is asking him has a reason for giving him these instructions. “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:5)
If you are familiar with the story you know what happened—a catch to beat all catches!
Obviously Simon must have had a pretty good clue that Jesus was Someone special, that He was the Messiah that everyone had been waiting for. Otherwise he would not have become a follower of Jesus, though to this point it was not a full-time commitment. Certainly Simon would not have followed the fishing instructions of a carpenter turned teacher unless he believed that this was no ordinary carpenter—or teacher.
But for some reason—divine enlightenment—this fishing expedition and the miracle that came with it revealed a blind spot to Simon that took him from a mere follower of Jesus to a true believer, one ready to make a full-time commitment. But it is this “aha” moment that includes an unexpected statement.
Simon and the others have heard Jesus speak. They have witnessed this miracle. They have had on-again-off-again contact with the Lord and been with Him to hear and see other wonderful things. We would think that they, (and Simon in particular since he is a chief character in this story) would be absolutely eager to tighten their relationship with this Man. But the Scripture says: “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’” (Luke 5:8).
Odd! What was there about a boatload of fish that brought on this kind of response? Like my splitter problem, I have no idea how one thing affects the other. Alfred Edersheim may be right when he comments that Simon Peter may have suddenly realized that if the Lord could see to the bottom of the sea and know that there were fish down there, then He could see a man's heart and know exactly what was down there too! But perhaps it was that until this moment, Peter might not have seen the importance of the first part of Jesus’ message, the one that said, “Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15). He “saw” it now. This is Simon Peter on his knees repenting. He acknowledged what he was before God and knew he was not worthy of a relationship with God.
But the wonderful thing about genuine repentance is that, though we don’t deserve a relationship with God because of our sin, God doesn’t “go away.” It was then that Simon knew forgiveness, the solution to the problem that he hadn’t quite seen before, the first and most important step. Now he and the others were ready for full-time commitment. It was at this moment that Peter acknowledged that even an expert fisherman knew nothing, and could do nothing, without the Lord. This total dependance on God for salvation and for every aspect of life was a prerequisite for service. Jesus would remind His disciples in that famous last teaching before the cross: “…apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)
“Then Jesus said to Simon, ‘Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.’ So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him” (Luke 5:10b, 11).
Now they were ready.