Grace September 23, 2013

Almost a year passed betweenthe time Jesus met Simon Peter (Jn 1:42) and the time He called Peter to be Hisdisciple (Lk 5:1-11). Jesus comes along the shore of Galileeteaching, followed by crowds of people. He asks to use Simon’s boat as aplatform for His sermon, and they push out from the shore. While Jesuscontinues preaching, Simon leans back against the side of the ship, weary fromthe long night of fishing. Jesus finishes the sermon and turns to Simon: “Putout into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” You can hear thereluctance in Simon’s voice: “We toiled all night and caught nothing.” But heobeys anyway: “If you say so.” Suddenly the net heaves with fish, and Simon hasto brace himself against the side of the boat. He calls over his partners; andeven with their help, the boats almost sink with the weight of fish. It’s anincredible miracle, but apparently it makes Peter feel scared and ashamed. Hefalls on his knees and says, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.”

Why would Peter be scaredhere? He’s seen lots of fish before. Even if we grant that it’s a miracle topull two boatfuls of fish from the sea in one haul in broad daylight, that’s areason for awe and wonderment, but why fear? Here’s why: Simon fears because heis so deeply aware of his sinfulness, but Jesus has treated him with suchgraciousness. Nothing in his experience could have prepared him for this kindof generosity. Simon knew that he deserved punishment and destruction from God,but instead he received lavish fountains of grace.

Friends, it’s impossible tofeel the wonder of grace until you have felt the horror of sin. Until yourecognize what you deserve, you will never be awed by what you actuallyreceive. You and I are sinful, through and through. The gospel is not the goodnews that God accepts you just as you are. It’s the good news that He acceptsyou just as Jesus is. You deserve God’s curse, but Christ bore it. Christ isfully pleasing to the Father, and He imparts all of His goodness to you. Thatis grace, and when you see it clearly, it drives you to your knees.