It would seem natural to start a series about becoming a disciple with how Simon Peter decided to follow Jesus. Ironically, this series starts with how Peter tries to shoo Jesus away.
Jesus grows up in Galilee, not all that far from Simon. Jesus works as a carpenter, does a regular trade, then leaves the household business to wander the countryside. He finds his cousin John the Baptist. The shaggy cricket eating prophet tells his followers that this carpenter is the Messiah. One of those followers is Simon’s brother Andrew, who hurries home to tell Simon the news. Simon comes to investigate and finds a rabbi that gives him an impromptu name change. Simon – uhm Peter – then returns to work.
In Chapter 4, Luke writes that “news about [Jesus] spread through the whole countryside.” So Simon had heard about Jesus – had even seen Jesus. He had heard that the people of Jesus’ hometown had tried to throw the rabbi off a cliff for what He had said in the synagogue. Then, in his own synagogue, Simon heard Him speak and saw Him talk sternly to a demon-possessed man. The man hadn’t been the same since the demon had left. He met Jesus again. Jesus actually came to his house and healed his mother-in-law. That evening, the whole community brought the sick and Jesus healed them too. That evening, Simon goes back to work.
Then Jesus shows up at his work.
So Jesus came down to the beach where the men were working and asked Simon to put his boat into the water. Jesus wanted to talk to the people on shore without being crowded. Simon was glad to oblige, he was grateful after all. He pulled his nets onto the boat (couldn’t be too careful with all those people around) and set out. Jesus taught for a while.
After a while Jesus stops, and asks Simon to put in the nets.
For Jesus he would put down the nets, for this rabbi who healed his wife’s mum. As the net hits the water he felt the boat lurch. The net was being pulled like it had never been pulled before. And then a sound he had never heard, the sound of nets starting to rip. The biggest fish catch ever.
The excitement would swell in him. They were set! It was like winning the jackpot at the lottery. I can imagine the giddiness and jumpiness. He would yell at the top of his lungs to have his partners hurry up with their boat. With amazing excitement, they would fill their boats, fish flapping everywhere, bouncing up and down. An unending supply of slimy scales. What a catch! Eventually they were stuck, they couldn’t shovel any more on deck because the boats started sinking. And still there were precious fish in that net. What an amazing thing. With this catch the debts could be paid, a second boat could be bought, he could get ahead. Finally get ahead. With Jesus on board life will be different. This Jesus guy… this Jesus guy…
Then the mood changed. The giddiness dropped. In all the excitement he had almost forgot about Jesus. He remembered all he knew about Jesus. The whole magnitude and glory of the event struck him at once. Jesus had chased demons out of his synagogue, He came into his house and healed his mother-in-law. Now Jesus had sent fish into his nets. Who was this man? More importantly, why was He following him? The Bible doesn’t say exactly what is going through Simon’s mind. But the fisherman’s next words tell us a lot.
When Simon Peter saw this crazy, inexplicable catch he fell at Jesus’ feet … among the fish and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man.” He wants Jesus to leave. Because he is a sinful man. He’s starting to feel chased, pursued by Jesus.
That’s where discipleship begins. When Jesus starts to get uncomfortable. In Cégep, I read a great book called “Your God Is Too Safe” – to which I owe a lot of this blog post. It’s while reading it that I first started to realize that Jesus was never interested in following me — I was to follow Him. That’s an uncomfortable feeling – to realize that our original life plans, aspirations and goals are to take the back seat to whatever Jesus decides. Like Simon, our tendency when that happens is to say, “Back away, Lord!” And we will quickly try to shush Jesus up before our Creator, Saviour and King even tells us what He wants from us.
What does He want for Simon? Well, He wants him to fish – exactly what Simon wanted to do in the first place.
But only someone becoming a disciple will discover that.
Jesus is not going to follow us. We are called to follow Him. What obstacles are holding you back from following Jesus? Write to us – privately or publicly – we will pray for you.
- Simon Peter: Becoming A Disciple – Intro (westislandinteraction.net)