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Jesus Sought Me (and Peter and You)

1B Lent

18 Feb 2024

Based on Luke 5 and the hymn "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing"


He was born and raised in Galilee, most likely from a family of fisherman.  It would have been rugged, subsistence living, with what little profit you made going to the local tax man and on to the emperor.  There would have likely been a garden and the home would have had an extended family.  Peter likely was just making it in the family fishing business, or perhaps he did have a bit set aside.  He lived with his wife, possibly children, though none are mentioned, and his mother in law either lived with him or close by.  At least in that part of Galilee, things were a bit quieter and there was less presence by the Romans.  How did this fisherman become the one we call St. Peter?  He certainly would not have been voted most likely to succeed by his hypothetical high school class.

Peter’s journey very much parallels the words of the hymn Come Thou Fount.  I would also hazard a guess that our own journey of faith is echoed in the hymn.

Our story today comes early in Luke’s Gospel.  Jesus has started his ministry, but has not yet called any disciples.  However he did stay at the home of Peter.  Peter must have been curious, intrigued, and feeling drawn to this man, Jesus. As he is teaching, Jesus realizes he needs to go out on the lake a ways so that everyone can hear him.  He asks Simon, who has been fishing unsuccessfully all night, to row him out from shore, which he does.  After he is done, he tells Simon to row out further and cast his net.  Simon scoffs, but already has an attachment to Jesus and must like him, so he rows out and casts the net.  The rest is history as they say.  All those fish, so many that Simon has to call for help and, even then, the nets almost break and the boats almost sink from the weight. I wonder if the people on the shore, who had been hanging on Jesus’ every word, saw what happened.   And how does Peter respond? For someone who had seen his mother-in-law instantly made well only a few days earlier, it was not the response I expected.  I would have anticipated that he would want to give great thanks to Jesus and be filled with gladness, but Peter, as always, does something unexpected:  he confesses his own weakness and sinfulness.  This was his second miracle in a very short time span.  Was he comprehending something of who Jesus could be?  Was he afraid of Jesus or simply afraid of what was happening?  He was thinking of himself in comparison to Jesus and coming up short. Yet from that moment he drops everything and follows Jesus, one of many. He gave up everything for this man, this one man. Jesus sought me….

When have you felt Jesus sought you? Have you ever felt that way.  I can tell you Jesus sought me! He sought me through the lives and words of other people.  The people who were role models, who inspired me, were not people who made a lot of money or who were great athletes or even great artists and writers, although art and literature led me down right paths!  The people who inspired me were people who, in some fashion were modeling the life that Jesus taught us to live. They were people like my parents, who lived simply and honestly and who always showed compassion. They were my teachers and my friends, who sometimes knowingly, and often unknowingly, gave me a word that turned me in the right direction.  Sometimes it was an action or event that led me to reflect on the direction my life was taking and to make a turn.  And sometimes it was words uttered by a friend that I heard as a message. 

We all have our stories; if we did not we would not be sitting here. We could be sleeping in or watching TV, but we are here and it is not just to get out of the house. We are here because we are still searching for God, searching for Jesus, and he is searching for us.

I was reading a thread on Facebook, which I normally avoid, as two people argued, rather fruitlessly, about what it meant to follow Jesus.  One person said it means stepping out of your comfort zone more than you would like and living into the meaning of the beatitudes.  The other person was caught in a vision of scarcity, where everyone was either a terrorist or out to get whatever it was he had. I felt very sad for him.  I don’t want to live my live with that kind of fear and hatred.

Blessed Peter; we are with him in that boat in the deep water, with no life jackets. It is a risky place to be; I do not like to swim and I do not do it well. Yet that is where the abundance of fish is to be found.  Perhaps his whole life Peter had never known abundance and was scared of this unexpected gift.  Perhaps that is why we, too, reject the gifts offered by Jesus.   We do not feel we are deserving, and we do not want to assume the responsibility that following Jesus will entail.

So I dare you to row out to the deep, deep water, for only by taking the risk will you find the abundant grace that you seek.


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