When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:
Jesus hadn’t said anything about sin. All He’d done was ask some weary fishermen to go back out and try one more time, to let down their nets and see if they wouldn’t be able to catch something this time. It was something they’d done hundreds, if not thousands, of times before. But they’d never fished with Jesus before, and somehow that made this one time different. And as the net fills with fish and the boat is weighed down by their abundance, Peter sees something in himself he might not have paid that much attention to before.
How did a boatful of fish reveal Peter’s sin and open his heart to a Lord and master, a teacher, and an eventual Savior? First of all, he saw. The difference between his empty boat without Jesus and his full boat with Him was an astonishing sight, indeed. Jesus brought abundance where there was once nothing. Jesus sent fish with ease when they had once toiled all night with no results. And when we allow Jesus into our lives to be our Lord and Savior, He brings with Him a fullness that we can’t get anywhere else, and He gives us this gift freely without any need for us to work for it.
Secondly, Jesus met Peter where he was. Peter was a fisherman, used to being on the water and casting out nets. And somehow in those places where we feel most comfortable and sure of ourselves, we can also see more clearly the truth of ourselves. At home, with the people closest to us, in the things we do every day, we see who we are, how we act, the habits we stick to. And sometimes we start to see that the faults and failures we once thought were acceptable are out of place. Sometimes we see things in ourselves that we are ashamed to find there, and we realize we’re not as okay as we thought.
And, of course, where Jesus is, His Spirit is also present, moving and working unseen in the hearts of men in often unexplainable ways. We never know what kinds of moments and experiences will be just what it takes to open someone’s heart to the Lord, to show them the sinfulness of their own hearts and the grace that flows from His heart. In our ordinary tasks, Jesus can work in extraordinary ways to a point where our lives will never be the same as we realize the fact of our sinfulness, confess it before the Lord, and enter into a new life with Him.