Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
There are a few elements we should especially notice, even in this well-known Gospel passage from Luke 5:1-11. First, Luke portrays this as essentially the first time Jesus had met Simon Peter. There are no signs of previous familiarity, though somehow Jesus knows enough about Simon and Simon enough about Jesus that they can end up in Simon’s boat.
Simon Peter is clearly tired, and reports having worked hard all night with very disappointing results. He doesn’t seem to like being told by a rabbi what he should do, and with good reason. He is a professional fisherman, and a successful one.
Most of us don’t like it much when Jesus tells us what to do. Yet what can we observe about this encounter between Simon and Jesus? First, Jesus apparently does know what he is talking about. Even when he says something counter-intuitive or that goes against our experience and training, we should take him at his word. Second, Jesus’ command is for the good of those who hear it and obey it. The large catch of fish represents not only food for Simon Peter and his co-workers, but also for the crowd of people who have gathered that morning to hear Jesus. It also represents economic stability. I find it hard to imagine that Simon and company would give all the fish away. They were professional fishermen and their livelihood came from selling fish. The crowd likewise probably had nothing against paying for the fish they would consume. It certainly was fresh! Finally, Jesus often redirects us in order to do some greater good in our lives and, through us, to others. Here he took the fishermen and redirected them into lives which would bring the food of eternal life to those they met. When we are confronted with Jesus’ commands, we should ask what he is going to do with us.
Jesus comes to each of us in His Word. He guides our lives, he puts us in contact with people, and he shows us how to be his servants in our world. This is always a good thing, even at the end of a long night’s work.
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