Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11
Jesus had ministered between the regions of Judea and Galilee for some time now, though we don’t know how long. We know that Jesus’ ministry lasted roughly three years. He had some men following him throughout this time but seemingly on a, well, “part-time” basis. (We already met them in the Gospel of John 1-2.) Four of the men whom we know that followed him from the beginning were two pairs of brothers: Peter and Andrew, and James and John. In today’s passage, they finally made their once-for-all break from their regular daily pastimes to follow him.
Matthew and Mark give an abbreviated version of Luke’s account. After preaching to the people from Simon’s boat, who had been “pressing in on him to hear the word of God” (I love that), Jesus asks Simon to go out to “let down your nets for a catch.” Simon responds that they had toiled all night but at Jesus’ word he would do so. As we indicated above, notice that Simon already knew Jesus and trusted him. You know the story, when they obeyed Jesus, the catch was so large their nets were breaking. James and John were called over to help. At this, Simon Peter falls down at Jesus’ knees saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” And as all were astonished at the miracle, Simon really expressed what all were thinking. When they returned to land, all four left their business and families and followed Jesus – now full-time.
The first thing to note is this: that when we are in the presence of the Lord, confession and repentance will follow (or a hardening of heart). Peter had seen and heard enough over the last several months; he knew who this man was: the Lord. And he knew who he was: a sinful man. He knew that the two could not co-exist. He loathes himself and asks the Lord to go away from him (though he really wants him to stay). But the good news is that when we in humility confess our sins and hate them for His sake, Jesus’ response is “fear not.” There is forgiveness. The second thing to note is that Jesus’ response requires that we leave all and follow him. This “all” is any and every thing that gets between us and him. God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5) and Jesus is a jealous Lord. But in giving up our lives, we find them (Matthew 10:39). And third, this following will include a call to ministry and service. What that might entail is personal to each individual. Not all are called to be preachers or missionaries, and that’s okay. But all are called to some service or task. The Lord will show this to you as you seek him. His is to call, yours is to humbly present yourself, as Simon did.