15 May 2020

Luke 5:1-11: Simon Answers the Call

Luke 5:1-11

The chapter opens near Capernaum, at the Sea of Galilee. It's a beautiful morning without wind, because Jesus is able to teach from God's Word while sitting in a boat (3). At the edge of the shore, fishermen are washing their nets (2). Jesus asks of Simon to "put out into the deep water and let down the nets for a catch" (4). It's morning, Simon worked all night, he's already packed up his nets and is ready to go home, having caught nothing (5). Still he answers Jesus, "because you say so, I will let down the nets" (5).

Why does Simon do this? It's the wrong time of day for fishing and he already spent all night and caught nothing. Jesus is not a fisherman, he's the son of a carpenter; he is not even remotely qualified to know where the best fishing spots are. Simon knows he's going to have to wash these nets out and pack them up again. He's had a long day of work and he's signing himself up for more. He may even have to work into the heat of the day because of this. He will certainly lose sleep.

Still, Simon lets the nets out, because Jesus asked him to. The catch of fish is so large that even with the help of another boat, they can hardly contain it (6-7). Simon and his partners, James and John are astonished. Simon reacts in fear, saying "go away from me for I am a sinful man!" (8-10).

Jesus may not be a qualified fisherman, but Simon knows he is far from a qualified disciple. This passage does not tell us what his sins were, but his reaction tells us he was full of regret. But Jesus does not call Simon, James, and John based on their qualifications, or even upon the goodness of their hearts. When Jesus calls them, they are sinful and they know nothing about the work that is before them. He calls them based on their faith and their willingness to work.

When they get to shore, they leave everything: the boats, the nets, and the largest catch they ever hauled, a fortune in fish, right there on the shore and go to follow Jesus, to become "fishers of men" (10-11). What do they see in Jesus? Certainly he could lead them to success beyond their wildest dreams, but he already did that. They left that on the shore to follow him. What Jesus offers is far more valuable, to restore their relationship with God.

Simon had said, "I am a sinful man" (8). This is who he thinks he is. He thinks he has no value because of the mistakes he has made. He fears to enter the presence of God because he cannot even forgive himself. Jesus shows him that not only is he forgiven, he is called, he is valued. Jesus invites him to embark on a transformation from "sinful man" to spiritual leader. For that promise, he, James, and John abandon everything. From that moment, they live by faith.

Peace be with you.

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