Luke 5:8-11 (CEV)
8 When Simon Peter saw this happen, he knelt down in front of Jesus and said, “Lord, don’t come near me! I am a sinner.”9 Peter and everyone with him were completely surprised at all the fish they had caught. 10 His partners James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were surprised too.
Jesus told Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you will bring in people instead of fish.” 11 The men pulled their boats up on the shore. Then they left everything and went with Jesus.
When I was eight years old we moved to a new, bigger city, from a very small town. And I arrived at school for the first day, and, let’s just say first impressions weren’t great in either direction. That day marked the beginning of six long years of being left out, side-lined and frequently bullied.
As a child, I always assumed this was someone else’s fault. The other kids were bullies. The other kids were mean. The other kids wouldn’t let me play with them.
But then I had kids myself. As I stood on school playgrounds and watched children interacting with each other, my eyes naturally gravitated to kids who reminded me of myself at those ages. And this doesn’t necessarily apply to anyone else who was bullied, but I suddenly found myself able to see the situation from a different perspective. Now, instead of seeing things through my limited childhood lens, I started to see that certain behaviours, actions and choices I had made had made it much more difficult for the other students to know how to include me. Furthermore, I could see that much of the behaviour of the other children actually had very little to do with me, and much more to do with their relationship with themselves.
Simon has a similar epiphany when he looks at this massive catch of fish that is rapidly sinking his boat and the boat of his friends. All of a sudden he is able to see that maybe the things he thought of about himself and his situation aren’t quite right. Maybe he doesn’t have it all together after all. And more to the point maybe Jesus does.
See, one of the things about meeting Jesus is that he starts to show us a more accurate picture of ourselves. Just like I could see my experiences as a child more clearly from the perspective of an adult, when I start to ask Jesus to show me more clearly who I am and who he made me to be, I start to understand things in a way I never did before.
That fight I’ve had with my husband three times a week for 17 years? It turns out it’s not just his fault!
That idea I have in my head that I have to be responsible for “everything” at our family’s Thanksgiving dinner? Turns out that’s not actually what anybody else thinks – in fact, maybe at least some of them would really rather I sat down and just relaxed!
That feeling that we don’t have enough? It turns out even that’s not an accurate perspective on reality!
The more time I spend with Jesus, the more I start to see myself revealed. Like Simon, it’s tempting to say “don’t come near me, Jesus – I’m a mess!” But I love Jesus’ response to Simon, and it’s the same response he offers you and me, “don’t be afraid! From now on …”
That fight I’ve been having with my husband? “Don’t be afraid! But from now on, why not take this different approach?”
That idea about having to be responsible for “everything”? “Don’t be afraid! But from now on, why not be clear about what you’re going to be responsible for and what you can’t possibly be responsible for, and just stick to doing the things that are for you to do in the first place?”
That feeling that we don’t have enough? “Don’t be afraid! But from now on, why not remember that I (Jesus) have provision covered, and you can just go ahead and be generous with the resources of time and money I’ve given you for the people and things I place in front of you to be generous with?”
Because the point of Simon seeing himself revealed – the point of us seeing ourselves revealed – isn’t so that we’ll feel afraid, or guilty or ashamed. The point is so that we will see the truth, and then follow Jesus into the freedom – the better way of living – that he came to offer us.
- Has Jesus been revealing a truth about yourself recently? What truth is that?
- When you think about that truth do you feel afraid, guilty, ashamed, or free?
- How do you think Simon moved from a place of fear to a willingness to drop everything and follow Jesus? What changed?
- What would have to change for you to choose freedom instead of fear?