February 25 – Luke 5:1-11


Main Focus: Peter the fisherman encounters the life-transforming Jesus and leaves his nets to follow him.

This Sunday we kicked off a new sermon series, Jesus & People. This series looks at narrative examples of our 2024 theme A Lived Amen: seeing the surpassing worth of Jesus and, in response, offering ourselves as a living sacrifice. Over 11 weeks we’ll look at the stories and responses of 11 people who encountered Jesus. We will spend most of our time in the gospels, with a sprinkle of Acts, and then finish in Revelation with all of creation’s response to the Lord of All Creation.

In community groups we’ll be discussing these encounters specifically with an eye towards what we learn about Jesus through them. We’ll draw some parallels between our own experiences and each story, but we don’t want to overdo this because our primary objective isn’t to find ourselves in the story but to find Jesus. Any similarities we see between our life and these stories are downstream from the character and nature of Jesus; the starting point isn’t “how does Jesus make me feel?” but instead “who is this Jesus?”

We’re starting the series in Luke 5:1-11 right at the beginning of Jesus’s ministry when he called Peter to leave everything and follow him. Importantly, this is not the first time Peter has met Jesus; back in Luke 4:38-39, Jesus came to visit Peter’s family and healed his mother-in-law (which is an often-overlooked detail of Peter’s discipleship—he didn’t just leave his boat but his family cause dude was married!). That’s a crucial detail and it makes this encounter far more approachable, as in, if it took Peter a couple times before he realized who this Jesus was then maybe it’s okay if it takes us a while too.

So while Jesus has met Peter before, in this specific story he reveals himself in a new, powerful way before officially calling Peter to be his disciple. The whole ordeal with the fish was a big deal for a Jewish audience because God alone has power over the natural world; immediately Peter perceived this not as some magic trick but a revelation of Jesus’s messianic, perhaps even divine, power.

And in discussion we’ll focus on this curious turn in Peter’s experience with Jesus. Once Peter sees the fish pouring in, he falls down at Jesus’s feet and confesses his sin. Why is that? Again, this shows us Peter’s awareness of the situation, since his response is so remarkably similar to the way people often responded to God’s presence in the Old Testament. Like Isaiah when he saw the Lord in the temple (Isa 6:1-7), truly encountering God reliably exposes the ill-fitting nature of a sinful human stepping into the presence of a holy God. We rightly feel the incongruity, our need for mercy just to be in his presence, and awe over being granted a moment with a holy God—“Who am I, O Lord?” (2 Sam 7:18)

Interestingly, the first thing Jesus says back to him is what angels often say to the terrified people they visit: “Do not be afraid” (cf. Luke 1:13; 1:30; 2:10; etc.). Jesus doesn’t dispute Peter’s sinfulness, but of the many things Jesus could have addressed, whether Peter’s sin or his ignorance over who Jesus really was (ex. Matt 16:22), Jesus speaks a word of peace to a troubled heart. “Don’t be afraid Peter. Yes, you have no business being in my presence. But you’re safe with me, and I have some business I want to do with you.”

We’ll use this experience of Peter feeling exposed and Jesus dealing gently with him to reflect on the ways we’ve experienced Jesus, whether that’s in moments of awe, or when we’ve also felt exposed, or being welcomed with tenderness by him. The goal here is for us to remember together how it feels to be in Jesus’s presence, and to remind ourselves of Jesus’s gentle, trustworthy nature (Matt 11:29). We’ll also finish by discussing how we can grow in relating to Jesus, particularly if we tend to think that Jesus is something other than gentle, kind, or trustworthy (or if we simply don’t encounter him often). Back to similarities with Peter’s story, hopefully we can arrive at a similar posture of surrender, one in which we can hear a word of reassurance from Jesus and, despite our sinfulness, receive his call to follow him.

Discussion questions

– Could someone read Luke 5:1-11 for us?

– What stood out to you from the passage?

– What do you think this experience was like for Peter?

– Why do you think Peter immediately thought about his sin?

– What can Jesus’s actions here tell us about him?

– What similarities do you see between Peter’s experience with Jesus here and your own experience with Jesus?

– What is this passage teaching you about how to relate to Jesus?