View print-optimized version

Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, February 6, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Luke 5:1–11

Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him. (NRSV)

As I read today’s verses, I was quickly drawn to the calling of those first disciples, the fishermen on the shores of Lake Gennesaret (Sea of Galilee). This formative act in Jesus’ ministry stays with me in a blended form of the accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Yet when I compared the three versions, Luke’s story is longer and contains many additional details.

One of these specifics grabbed my attention. Simon becomes the focal character in the narrative. When he experiences the amazing catch of fish, at Jesus’ direction, we read that he fell down at Jesus’ knees in awe and self-judgment. In language familiar in my household, I frequently view Peter as “swift, sure, but wrong.” Yet here he senses a more-than-human power. He prostrates himself in the boat before the fully human, fully divine Jesus, complicating my view of Peter.

Years ago I had my own complicating experience. As a ministry student at the Divinity School (University of Chicago) I would attend special worship services at Rockefeller Chapel. One day I bumped into my doctoral advisor as I entered the narthex. He was a widely respected theological ethicist. When he invited me to join him for worship, I felt honored.

We were seated in a pew as the prelude continued. I was startled by what happened next. Suddenly this profound professor dropped to his knees (not a posture I often experience). My understanding of this mentor was stretched. He was also a deeply devout believer.

May we always remain open to the complicating dimensions of biblical characters and personal mentors.

Surprising God, thank you for startling, complicating moments. May your Spirit continue to be at work in my experience, stretching my often-settled senses. May I, may we, continue to grow in our faithful understandings, through Jesus the Christ. Amen.

Written by Jeffrey Doane, Parish Associate for Older Adults

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

Devotion index by date | Id like to receive daily devotions by email