This is an interesting story, yet perhaps difficult. Why is this here? Jesus is prepared for public ministry, yet this seems private. Are we establishing more certainly his identity?
Think about what has gone before: John the Baptist, genealogy, baptism, temptation. In 4:14, the beginning of ministry in Galilee. Now he has been touring Galilee, 4:44.
There is here an obvious parallel to other "calling stories" in the gospels, but there is also a difference. Consider parallels in Matt. 4:18-22, Mark 1, John 1. We can observe different kinds of narrative. Here in Luke, there is a symmetry in this and the following section. The call of the leading disciple is followed by two healings which provoke controversy. Then another call (Matthew Levi) is followed by two sabbath controversies.
What lessons might we learn?
GOD BLESSES IN UNEXPECTED WAYS
Luke 5:1-3, this is unique to Luke, but reflects an expected activity. It is morning, there is a blessing in the the word of God, and Jesus is teaching.
Then it is time to go fish. Why did Peter heed Jesus' words? What was there about Jesus? What it his teaching? Perhaps the previous miracles were Peter's clue (4:31-44). How did Jesus know of the night of fruitless fishing? Night was the best time, morning with the glistening sun the worst. At any rate, Jesus already knew Simon, and Simon had seen a miracle with his mother-in-law. Perhaps this is why it is so easy for Jesus to commandeer Peter's boat. The movement here is from synagogue to open spaces. People pressed to hear him, not to see more miracles or signs. This is the Word of God in reference to kingdom proclamation, 4:43. Notice the blessings of the occasion.
GOD'S HOLINESS EITHER DRAWS US OR DRIVES US AWAY
Luke 5:8. Go away from me Lord. The nearer one comes to God, the more he feels his own sinfulness and unworthiness. What is this?
Did Peter become so painfully aware of his depravity in the very presence of holiness? He even fell down into the boatful of slithering fish. At any rate, this new insight into Jesus' nature made a deep impression on him.
Peter chose to attempt to distance himself, but Jesus would not let him go. He rather reassured him, commissioned him. This is how Jesus will respond to Peter's awareness of sin. Not to condemn but to commission, not to uselessness but to usefulness.
If Peter did not understand what catching men was all about, if he was uncertain about his ability to succeed, he certainly knew what Jesus could do. If catching men were as successful as catching fish, it would be a great success.
GOD'S PRESENCE IS NOT TO BE FEARED
Don't be afraid.
This event results in these following Jesus. All that mattered was left--catch, boats, jobs, livelihood, homes. Ultimate trust is now in Jesus. Lives are now oriented around a new center. Discipline once devoted to worldly success is now available for spiritual ends.
A remarkable trust is here, based on the assumption that Jesus can supply any needs.
Here were people willing to work, obedient to commands, honest in self-assessment, willing to make whatever sacrifice was necessary.
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