When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”… Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him (Luke 5:8,10,11).
Simon Peter and his friends were fishermen when they first knew Jesus. After a long night of catching nothing, they were ready to call it quits. But Jesus told them to put out their nets in the deep water. It was now the hottest and brightest part of the day. A catch of fish seemed even less likely at this point.
The miraculous catch Jesus gave them ripped their nets and caused their boats to sink! Immediately, Peter realized that this wasn’t just another teacher, but the Son of God. When Peter saw God’s power that day, he was filled with fear. More than ever, he felt the big difference between God and himself. He was a sinner and God was not. He was entirely at God’s mercy.
Maybe it was a huge thunderstorm or the power of crashing waves that first made you realize how big God is and how small you are. When we see the awesome wonders of God in this world, sometimes we feel the same way Peter did. Sometimes we conclude that we need to distance ourselves from God because of our sin. He is perfect and we are not. The Bible tells us that God has every right to punish us for all of eternity because of our sin. All of this strikes fear in our hearts. Jesus’ powerful miracles had this same effect on people. But at the same time, his miracles draw our attention to an important fact about our powerful God: he is here to save us. Jesus calms our fears.
Jesus told Peter, “Do not be afraid…” As God’s Son, he wasn’t there to harm Peter. He was there to save him, and that is just what he did when he died on the cross and rose again. Jesus’ words calm our fears as sinners before a holy God. Now, we don’t need to cry, “Away from me, Lord, for I am a sinner!” Instead, in the peace of his forgiveness, we can take the time to set down the nets of our daily work and follow him to something greater in his Word.