Once when he was standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, the crowd was pushing in on him to better hear the Word of God. He noticed two boats tied up. The fishermen had just left them and were out scrubbing their nets. He climbed into the boat that was Simon’s and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Sitting there, using the boat for a pulpit, he taught the crowd. When he finished teaching, he said to Simon, “Push out into deep water and let your nets out for a catch.” Simon said, “Master, we’ve been fishing hard all night and haven’t caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I’ll let out the nets.” It was no sooner said than done—a huge haul of fish, straining the nets past capacity. They waved to their partners in the other boat to come help them. They filled both boats, nearly swamping them with the catch. Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell to his knees before Jesus. “Master, leave. I’m a sinner and can’t handle this holiness. Leave me to myself.” When they pulled in that catch of fish, awe overwhelmed Simon and everyone with him. It was the same with James and John, Zebedee’s sons, coworkers with Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “There is nothing to fear. From now on you’ll be fishing for men and women.” They pulled their boats up on the beach, left them, nets and all, and followed him. Luke 5: 1-11 (The Message)
Do you remember the moment you first decided to follow Jesus? For me, it seemed pretty simple. Maybe like Peter. Jesus really didn’t tell Peter much. Just that he would be a fisher of men. When I decided to follow Jesus, I didn’t really know a lot either. And looking back, and even reflecting on Peter, I have to wonder that if Jesus had told me, if He had told Peter everything that would happen, would we have still decided to follow?
If Jesus would have said to Peter when He first met him, You are going to see all of these amazing things! Way more amazing than your nets filled with fish! You will witness a crowd of 1000’s being fed with not enough food to feed my disciples, you will walk on water! You are going to be one of my closest friends, and you will be the first to proclaim that I am the Son of God, and boast that you would never forsake me even if everyone else did, but then you will deny me 3 times, as I am about to be crucified. And you will weep bitterly out of the grief of those moments… would Peter still have followed?
“I am a sinner, and I can not handle this holiness”
Peter’s fear was almost as deep as his faith. Almost. You have a man who wanted to walk to Jesus on water, but then starts wave watching and begins to sink. He then calls out to Jesus to save him, and Jesus immediately reaches out His hand to save Him. You have a man who says I am a sinner, and I can not handle this holiness, and No Jesus, You will never wash my feet… but when Jesus tells him that unless He washes him he has no part with Him, he says Then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.
And then you have Peter who vows to Jesus that he would never forsake Him even if everyone else did, and then denies Him 3 times as He is being questioned by the high priest. Peter quickly remembers Jesus’ words You will deny me 3 times… and goes to weep bitterly.
I have to wonder where Peter was while Jesus was crucified?
Was he hiding, in the agony of his denial? Again afraid of what would happen if people associated him with Jesus? Yet knowing Jesus was about to die, and the last encounter he had with Him was locking eyes with His Lord after he denied Him, knowing he completely blew it, and that he would never get the chance to say I’m sorry?
Where was Peter?
We don’t know.
But I know where I would want to be. I would want to be running to the cross knowing this may be the last chance I get, and throwing my self face down to the ground, before Him as He is taking His last breathes, saying My Lord, I am so sorry for the ways that I deny you, and that I am too often more focused on the way I look to the world, instead of living out the truth that Your ways are higher than mine. I am so sorry for the ways that I cower down in fear, instead of just trusting You. I am so sorry for worrying about how I look to the person standing next to me, instead of knowing who I am in Your eyes. Forgive me for the ways that my commitment to You is sometimes backed with more doubt than it is faith.
Where are you?
So my question to you is where are you at the cross? Where are you when things get hard? Are you running out the door in the denial of your King, or standing on His firm foundation?
I said before that I wonder that if Jesus had told Peter everything that was ahead of him, if Peter would have still followed. I wonder if Peter was looking back as Jesus was looking to the cross, wondering if following Jesus had even been worth it.
And so I ask you, knowing what you know now, if you were to go back to when you decided to follow Jesus, would you do it again? And I leave you with that… because I think that how we all answer that, effects how we live today.