It chafes my teacher-heart just a bit that Luke chooses to leave out of today’s text any details about what Jesus was teaching the crowds from Simon’s fishing boat that fine day. I want a window on His words of instruction, His divine directives, His voice of authority. Instead of hearing them directly, I’m given the opportunity to receive them through the experience unfolding on the waters of Lake Gennesaret, through an intimate and powerful encounter between Jesus and Simon.
For isn’t that the way of Jesus? To desire encounter and experience with us? To come to us in the grittiness of our everyday lives?
That’s certainly how it is for Simon. He has just endured a futile and frustrating night at work, with absolutely no fish to show for his efforts. He’s busy cleaning his nets, probably looking forward to getting off that shore. Just when he’s dreaming of the breakfast he’s going to enjoy before resting his weary body, Jesus calls and Simon responds. Jesus comes to Simon in the middle of his ordinary daily grind and Simon responds with openness to the encounter. He responds with trust. He responds with action.
As Jesus catches Simon by surprise in a net-ripping catch of fish, Simon is awakened. His eyes are opened to Jesus’ identity, to His divine power. His eyes are opened to his own unworthiness, his sinfulness. He is awakened to his own fear. Jesus isn’t interested in his cringing deprecation. He desires more encounter with him, more experience together, more life lived with Jesus’ kingdom purposes in mind.
What do we learn from our observation of this first century day on the lake? We learn that Jesus is not even remotely put off by smelly fishing boats, frustrating or unfruitful past experiences, our unworthiness. We learn that allowing Jesus to come to us as He desires is crucial, that our trust in and acknowledgement of who he is and who we are become clearer as we do life together with Him.
I’ve heard the expression, “More things are caught than taught.” May we be people who are increasingly caught by the Presence and Power of Jesus in our own experience and who from that place of encounter become part of God’s bigger story of bringing all people to life in Jesus.
Lenten Reader 2018
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