IN Luke 5, Jesus had used Simon Peter’s boat as a platform for teaching. Jesus then commanded Simon, after the teaching, to put out and cast the net for some fish. The obviously miraculous catch of fish that followed stirred something visceral in Simon.
Luke 5:8-10 – 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”
Simon was terrified. He was fall-on-your-knees shaken. He recognized something about Jesus and something about himself that, as the old writers may have put it, turned his bowels to water.
Simon saw that Jesus is holy and that he, Simon, was sinful. And when he realized that he, a sinful man, was in proximity to one who is truly holy, he was in great danger. Simon knew that Jesus would be well within his rights to utterly destroy him. Simon knew that he had nothing he could do to make himself good enough to impress Jesus. Simon knew he was helpless and guilty, and he had no reason why Jesus should show him kindness.
In verse 10, Jesus calms Simon’s fears and tells him that his life is about to change. Jesus extended gracious kindness to Simon, and that is how we see Simon following Jesus around for the rest of the book as a disciple.
What grabs my attention here is the difference in Simon’s response to Jesus and the typical modern response to God. Simon understood holiness. Simon was terrified by the concept of being touched by the holy, because Simon understood that such a touch is deadly to sinful men. But today, few people grasp that such an encounter is anything to tremble at or shrink from. Most people believe they have every right to make demands of God. Few people understand that, if God unveiled his holiness, they would be utterly consumed.
Sadly, this lack of understanding is not merely in the lost world. I think I see it in the church. I hear Christians ask questions about the ways of God, and there is no fear of God in their mouths. I hear people ask questions that, if they were honest, would come out something like, “How dare God do things this way?” But we must understand that God is holy and we are not. We must understand him to be the Creator while we are creation. We must understand that God is infinite in his wisdom while we understand so very little. And we must grasp that God is God and we are not. WE have no right to question him or demand from him explanation.
Simon got it right when he trembled before Jesus. Do we?