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February 7, 2016
“You will now net men.” These words of Jesus to Simon are the end result of Simon’s encounter with the Lord and his growth in being a disciple. In the gospel of Luke, the work of Jesus is focused on preaching, that is his mighty work. He does miracles, but the main thing is his teaching. Imagine him on the seashore with people pressing in. He has the need to back up a little so he can teach. So he asks Simon for help. Now Simon has been out all night working with no results. One can imagine him being tired and just wanting to rest. Yet, he is open to Jesus and offers his boat. Jesus then continue his teaching and obviously Simon is listening. When Jesus finishes, he commands Simon to cast his nets again. Simon responds calling Jesus, Master.
The teaching of Jesus has had an effect on Simon, he recognizes Jesus’ authority. Isn’t it odd-Simon is the one who by trade is an expert on fishing. Who is this Jesus, a carpenter and preacher, to tell him how to fish? Yet, Simon has faith enough to respond to Jesus' command without any other reason to believe. The catch had to be the best ever. The nets could hold no more, they were tearing. The boats were loaded to the sinking point.
When human power and expertise fail, which they do, God’s power is more than enough. In fact, the blessing is almost a curse. Think about it; it wouldn’t be good if the nets were destroyed and the boats sunk! Now Simon, recognizing the divine power at work in Jesus responds in fear: depart from me, I am sinful. Simon fears because he knows that he is unworthy before God. His sinfulness makes him fearful, for it deserves punishment. Yet Jesus shows that the mercy of God is greater than human sinfulness. Simon’s faith grows and now he can become fully a disciple.
A disciple is one who not only hears and believes but puts that belief to work by helping others do so. Notice how Jesus invites him. He appeals to Simon’s talent as a fisherman to do the work of discipleship. Jesus asks to use the natural talents Simon has for a new purpose, to work for the Kingdom of God.
There is another important thing to notice. While Jesus doesn’t give the name Peter to Simon, the gospel writer does. Peter is the name of the Christian. It is a person who is absolutely grounded in faith that Jesus is the Son of God. Simon is the only disciple to be given a name by Jesus. That name is not just for him but for all disciples. The coming to discipleship as seen in Simon Peter is what we experience as well. We hear, we experience the presence of Jesus, we pull back in fear because of sin, but we learn to trust that God’s mercy is bigger than our sin so that we will be free to become Peter, the disciple who brings the faith to others and helps build unity among believers. You will now catch men for me, these words to Simon who becomes Peter echo in our ears this day, who are called to become Peter as well.
Father Ken Harder