An unlikely person was down by the shore that morning. What was a carpenter doing down by the fishing boats? Perhaps that was what drew their interest. Or maybe they heard about the miracles.
At any rate the crowds were growing and pressing in upon him. Jesus needed a pulpit, he commandeers an empty boat and asked – well, not exactly asked, more like “voluntold”– Peter to start rowing.
Simon thought for a moment. He and Jesus were friends and besides he owed the man one. Jesus had healed Simon’s mother-in-law just a few days before. Even though he was tired from another night of fruitless fishing and a morning picking out the seaweed from his nets, he said sure. What was a lost hour of sleep to help out a friend?
Jesus didn’t want him to take him too far – just far enough where you could still see the bottom and if by chance the boat tipped over, well you could just walk to shore. Who knew how to swim anyway?
Jesus finished his sermon. Peter picked up the oar to row back to shore, back to his home, back to his bed when Jesus said, “go out into the deep water and drop your nets.”
What? Everything’s cleaned up, we’re all clocked out and ready to go home and he wants us to do what? In water where you can’t see the bottom? Where, if you fall out of the boat, you’re sunk because you didn’t know how to swim?
Jesus was telling Peter to do something that was absolutely pointless. The fish were not in the deep, dark part of the lake. It was morning and you never catch fish in the daylight. And this carpenter – a CARPENTER — is telling him to drop their nets – his just-cleaned nets – into deep water where no fish are found. Peter was tired and all he wanted to was go home.
Have you been where Peter is? I know I have.
Discouraged? Disillusioned? Exhausted? Just need to go home and recharge? And then someone tells you to do on more thing? One more ridiculous thing. To. Do.
Hear the edge in Peter’s voice – sure, whatever you say, Boss! Maybe he rolled his eyes, even muttered under his breath, “Carpenters thinking that they know how to fish. Whatever!”
Drop the nets.
We all know what happens next – a miraculous catch! Forget about the nets. Drop the mic!
The boat begins to tip…into the deep water…where you can’t see or touch the bottom. The nets begin to break – they are going to lose everything! They call for help. The boats are sinking.
Peter panics. He can’t swim. He’s an unclean man in an unclean world expecting the wrath of God to come down upon his head. Isn’t that what God does to sinners? Punish them? He saw his life pass before his, imagined himself sinking into the deep abyss.
“Go away from me Lord…” He collapses at Jesus’ knees.
“Do not be afraid.”
The perfect reversal – no condemnation. No “go get your act together and try again tomorrow.” No “have a great swim”. No “you deserve this…”
Do not be afraid. Bible-speak for God is doing a new thing beyond your wildest dreams. It will blow your mind. You get to be a part of it. This is a merciful God, forgiving God, loving God.
Jesus calls Simon to his side to be a part of the 12 disciples. No condemnation but rather friendship and trust. From SALT* project: “it’s saying to someone who’d done you wrong, Come. Let’s work together. I trust you. Follow me.”
The reversals continue. In the old testament, fishing for people referred to God’s judgment as the sinful are pulled up by nets. Jesus takes this image of divine wrath and turns it around.
That new thing that going to blow your mind that you get to be a part of? Catching people. Alive. So that life may be restored, and people can live.
Simon believes that he is not enough. How could Jesus possibly use a fisherman and not a very good one at that to accomplish God’s mission.
Jesus calls us to be caught in God’s mission – life giving mission of sharing God’s radical act of love and grace and word of promise that salvation is for everyone. All means all.
Do we resist dropping the net because what Jesus is call us to seems just too impractical? We avoid putting out into the deep waters of following Jesus and being his witnesses.
Have we convinced ourselves that we are not enough? Is it too much to believe that God has, dose and will work through people just like us? Are we too afraid to drop the nets into the chaos of this world, fearful of what we just may pull up?
Jesus doesn’t wait until we think we’re ready to invite us into his mission to the world. He doesn’t care how frail we think we are, how many failures we’ve had, how many doubts we carry in our hearts, how busy we are, how ordinary we are, how complicated our lives are.
In our baptisms we are encountered by the one who changes everything. We are encountered by Jesus. He’s not going to let us drown, but we will get really wet. But then, haven’t we already gotten wet in our baptisms? Hasn’t Jesus caught us and works through us to catch others in his deep, wide net of God’s mercy and love?
This catching people stuff is not about we can or cannot do. This call may seem crazy and impossible. It takes guts to venture out into deep waters. Remember that it’s all about what God has done is doing and will do. This miraculous catch was done in Jesus’ presence and they didn’t have to haul in the net all by themselves.
When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed Jesus. Boats filled to the brim with fish. And the regions poor enjoyed an unexpected feast.
Yes, the year of the Lord’s favor has indeed begun.
Forget the mic…it’s time to drop the nets!