Peter had two experiences with Jesus. The first happened around the FIRST time they met each other physically. The other happened around the LAST time they left each other ‘physically’. Interestingly, both meetings happened when Peter was fishing in a river. Same events, same miracles….different REACTIONS!
At the first time, Peter toiled all night fishing…yet caught NOTHING! Jesus came on the scene and performed a serious miracle for Peter!
‘…Jesus said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught… And when they had this done, they INCLOSED A GREAT MULTITUDE OF FISHES: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink…’ (Luke 5:4,7)
Wow. Such miracles, even other fishers had to come and help! But what was Peter’s REACTION to this manifestation of God in his life?
‘…When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, DEPART FROM ME; FOR I AM A SINFUL MAN, O Lord…’ (Luke 5:8)
Oh! Depart from me? Someone who just dazed you with a GRACIOUS unmerited miracle… should ‘…depart from you’?
Now listen carefully: Peter was totally filled with the consciousness of his ‘sinfulness’….than the Graciousness of the ‘Saviour’ standing before Him! In fact, I love the way the NLT brings out this verse:
‘…When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please LEAVE me–I’m TOO MUCH OF A SINNER TO BE AROUND YOU.” (Luke 5:8 NLT)
Oh oh… Too much of a sinner to be around Jesus? It is pathetic to realize that many believers are still caught in this web of ‘sin-consciousness’ when they are dazed with the Gracious manifestation of God. It is humanly logical to believe that at the manifestation of a Holy God, …sinful man must flee! (Judges 13:22)
I’ll still drive this deeper by showing how the Message Bible renders that verse on Peter’s experience:
‘…Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell to his knees before Jesus. “Master, LEAVE. I’m a sinner and CAN’T HANDLE THIS HOLINESS. Leave me to myself.” (Luke 5:8 MSG)
What was Peter actually doing here? He was GROANING IN HIS GUILT! Though the Bible didn’t outline the sins he recently committed, it’s obvious he had some sins in his life with tremendous guilt following him up. He probably was aware of the verse in the Torah that says:
‘…be sure your sin will find you out…’ (Numbers 32:23)
And while hoping to hide from the judgment of a Holy God, here comes the ‘Thrice Holy’ God standing before Him!
‘…HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God Almighty…’ (Rev 4:8)
Thrice Holy! Yet in His holiness, He would rather perform a miracle for a sinful Peter! What was the response of this Holy God, to this fidgeting sinful Peter?
‘…And Jesus said unto Simon, FEAR NOT…’ (Luke 5:10)
The answer to ‘depart from me a sinful man’…is ‘Fear not’! Oh, this was around the first time Peter encountered Jesus physically…and we can tag this as the ‘beginning’ of his understanding of God’s Grace — GROANING IN GUILT!
Fast forward to the time Peter was to see Jesus for the last time ‘physically’. This time around, the Bible tells us in details the ‘recent sin’ Peter had just committed. HE DENIED THE LORD THREE TIMES! So what will happen if this THRICE sinful man meets with a THRICE Holy God? Follow carefully.
7 disciples including Peter went to fish at the sea of Galilee. But their experience wasn’t far from what Peter earlier experienced in Luke 5.
‘…They went out and got into the boat; AND THAT NIGHT THEY CAUGHT NOTHING…’ (John 21:3)
Recall that at the beginning, Peter also fished ALL NIGHT and caught nothing! (Luke 5:5) Now, Jesus showed up the next morning by this sea of Galilee and performed same miracle for Peter again!
‘…And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they WERE NOT able to haul it in BECAUSE OF THE GREAT NUMBER OF FISH…’ (John 21:6)
Same experience! Recall that they couldn’t draw the net too earlier…that they had to go call other fisher men to assist! Oh how I love Jesus. Now at this stage, Peter wasn’t aware yet that it was Jesus (who he denied three times) that was the man who performed this miracle for them. What will happen if he gets to know that this man standing by the shore was the very CHRIST he just denied! Would he run away with the mindset of “depart from me for I am a sinner”…or will he do the exact opposite?
One of the 7 disciples fishing together got a revelation that the man who just spoke to them was Jesus….and he shouted “IT IS THE LORD” to the hearing of Peter!
‘…Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “IT’S THE LORD!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment…, jumped into the water, and HEADED TO SHORE…’ (John 21:7 NLT)
Wow! Peter headed directly TOWARDS Jesus!!! He wasn’t running from This Thrice Holy God…even though he denied him Thrice! Peter has GROWN! He has moved from GROANING IN GUILT…to…GROWING IN GRACE!
Few days before this, When he was to deny Jesus, the Bible says Peter denied Jesus when he was warming himself at the High Priest’s courtyard around ‘…A FIRE OF COALS…’ (John 18:18) Interestingly, when Peter dived into the water towards Jesus at the shore, Jesus had prepared breakfast for him and the other 6 disciples on ‘…A FIRE OF COALS…’! (John 21:9) Despite the memory game of ‘fire of coals’, Yet no guilt of past sins!
This is the sign of spiritual maturity! This is the proof of GROWING… instead of …GROANING! The ability to exalt the Grace of God…above your Consciousness of Sin is the mark of SONSHIP…while the Consciousness of sin over the Grace of God is the mark of SERVANTHOOD!
‘…So you have NOT received a spirit that makes you FEARFUL SLAVES. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”…’ (Romans 8:15 NLT)
At the beginning, Peter was groaning in guilt. But after few years of walking with Christ, Peter had grown in grace! He could run to Jesus…instead of running away from Jesus.
In the old testament, they lived a very fearful life. They needed to be extremely careful especially when handling things of God’s temple…else they die! (Lev 10:9) But in the new testament,…instead of a threat of death, we are told that the death of Jesus makes coming to God… a threat to LIVE!
‘…By his death, Jesus opened a NEW and LIFE-GIVING WAY through the curtain into the Most Holy Place…’ (Heb 10:20 NLT)
The more you come, the more you live! He will love you so much that those sins will drop off your life miraculously! Your ‘great sins’ are not as real as your ‘greater Saviour’. Your want to overcome those sins? Then begin to exalt His Grace! Sin bows out when Grace abounds! (Romans 5:20) Hallelujah.
I would have concluded here but I thought it worthy of note that you should see the main difference between the two miracles of Jesus with Peter. At the first time, when Peter was laid with guilt…the miracle of the fishes had this clause:
‘…they caught such a large number of fish that THE NET BEGAN TO TEAR…’ (Luke 5:6)
At the time Peter suffered condemnation, the net TORE! But at the time, Peter exalted Grace over Guilt, the miracle had this clause:
‘…Although there are so many fishes, THEIR NET WAS NOT TORN…’ (John 21:11)
Hallelujah! Jesus will hold you INTACT despite your weakness. You won’t end in shame when you exalt his Grace. Your life is SECURED in His hands when you choose to GROW and reject the enemies deception to make you GROAN! And in the words of Max Lucado: ‘…when Grace goes deep, Disciples go stronger…’
So what do you choose? GROWING IN GRACE…or GROANING IN GUILT? My simple advice is found in the epistle of Bro. Peter to you:
‘…but GROW IN GRACE, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…’ (2Peter 3:18)
I hope this blessed you. Amen.