One purpose of the gospels is to enlighten us and help us on our journey.
Luke, in verse 5: 1-11 tells one such story of Jesus and a gathering of followers happening upon Peter and some fellow fishermen at the Sea of Galilee. The fishermen have finished washing their nets and Jesus borrows one of the boats and begins to teach the crowd.
After he finishes, Jesus says to Peter, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
Now consider Peter’s dilemma: they had fished all night without catching anything, the boats were cleaned and the nets washed, and they had stayed to listen to Jesus preaching. Undoubtedly they were pretty tired and wanted to get home for some shuteye. Peter says to Jesus: “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets”.
I can’t imagine them all jumping up for joy and hopping happily into the boats again. But after they did they caught such a great number of fish that two boats were filled, the nets were tearing, and the boats were in danger of sinking. When Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man”.
Jesus said to Peter: “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” Luke tells us that “When they brought their boats to the shore; they left everything and followed him.”
I see three miracles in this story. But the one that grabbed me, and which at first I thought was the point of the story, is that they LEFT EVERYTHING and followed him.But Jesus ALSO filled the boats with fish, and then said to them: “from now on you will be catching men”.
What does that tell me about myself, I wondered? What is the lesson for me?
I wasn’t so impressed with the boats filled with fish nor that they would be catching men, but that they left everything and followed him. Everything means everything, no matter how much or how little you have.
My home is full of memorabilia of 35 years living overseas in twelve different countries. I have often looked around wondering what I would take with me were I to move to a retirement community and need to squeeze just a small collection of my “stuff” into much smaller living quarters. Oh my, what could I part with?
There is another gospel story where one man said he would follow Jesus, but later because he had just married a wife. Another said he would follow after he said goodbye to his parents. But Jesus said, that is not enough. Follow me NOW.
I came to wonder; am I capable of leaving everything to follow some preacher with a life changing message like the fishermen did? Am I too attached to my material things? I wonder. “They left everything and followed Him.”
But what if I had known the charismatic god/man Jesus? What if I had listened to his words of a new way of life? What if I had witnessed his miracles?
It would take a great deal of faith, hope, and love. What digs faith out of the bowels of our beings and propels us to “follow”?
Is it any different now than it was in the time of Jesus? I don’t think so. But could I leave everything and follow NOW?