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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 5:1–11

Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him. (NRSV)

Simon (who becomes Peter) is one of my very favorite characters in scripture. He always says exactly what he thinks and seems to be missing a mental filter. In the beginning of this passage, he reminds me a bit of a surly teenager who gets irritated that Jesus just comes along and acts like he knows it all. In my imagination, in response to Jesus telling Peter to try again to catch some fish, I see Simon rolling his eyes, pushing his hair to the side and responding with a salty tone, “We have been doing this basically all night long and have had no luck but, whatever. If you say to try again, we will try again.” Can’t you just hear the attitude dripping from his words?

Yet as soon as he does it and the fish fill the nets beyond capacity, Simon is also the very first one to recognize his doubt in Jesus and to repent of it. That is the other thing I love about Simon. Rather than get defensive or make excuses, each time he comes face-to-face with being wrong, he repents. He admits how he messed up, and he turns to God once again.

Simon Peter will engage this routine of messing up, seeing that he messed up, repenting of the ways he messed up, and trying to turn back to faithfulness over and over again in the Gospels. It is a beautiful picture of discipleship, for God never asks if we are there yet, if we have arrived at perfect faithfulness. God simply asks if we are headed in the right direction.

God, help me to head in the right direction—in your direction of goodness and mercy. I thank you for Simon Peter this day and pray I might learn from him about how to be honest and how to have the courage to start again. Amen.

Written by Shannon J. Kershner, Pastor

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