Some days I can’t imagine what a pain Jesus must have seemed for his disciples.
Here’s Peter and his co-workers after fishing all night with no return. They’re sorting out their nets and just want to get home.
The sun is starting to blaze in the sky, adding to the misery of having to tell their wives and children that they wouldn’t have a catch of fish to sell. In the midst of this disappointment and hard labor walks Jesus.
He’d like to teach a crowd of people who have been crowding along the shoreline. This is the shoreline where Peter and his co-workers are trying to get their nets sorted out. Commercial fishing doesn’t work great as a spectator sport, but Jesus doesn’t just bring along a growing crowd. Jesus asks a favor of Peter.
Jesus wants to teach the people from Peter’s boat.
We could hardly blame Peter for saying, “Nope, the shop’s closed. Can you give us a little room here to wrap things up?”
While we can’t imagine a reason why Peter would say no because we’re used to Peter playing along in this story, anyone who has worked at demanding physical labor all day can hopefully imagine that lending his boat as a preaching platform was hardly a sure bet. Of course with his boat sitting in the shallows as Jesus teaches, Peter sticks around to hear Jesus teach.
Who knows what Peter’s family is thinking about at this point. Why is he taking so long? Is he safe?
At the end of the talk, Jesus has yet ANOTHER request for Peter. We may imagine Peter trying to pull his boat onto the shore so he can get home.
No so fast.
Jesus wants Peter and his crew to take the boat out AGAIN. They had to haul the boats back out in the light of day, a bad time to fish, after failing so spectacularly just a few hours before.
Let’s not forget that they had just cleaned up and repaired their nets. They would have to do that all over again. We may well imagine Peter’s co-workers nearly staging a mutiny or at the very least grumbling among themselves.
Who does this Jesus guy think he is, anyway?
By the time their nets were filled with fish, they realized that they certainly didn’t know who they were dealing with.
Peter knew enough to tell Jesus to leave. He wasn’t a holy man. He saw his sins stacked up, making a case against him.
Of course all of those sins were of no consequence to Jesus. He wasn’t looking for a perfect group of followers. Peter had the one thing that Jesus needed in a follower.
Peter allowed Jesus to interrupt his life. He made himself available, setting aside his plans and goals. He took a small risk and allowed Jesus to change his plans for the morning.
Jesus had a bigger interruption planned for Peter: a whole new career where he would interrupt others as he too had been interrupted.
On his last day as a fisherman, Peter learned that presence trumps perfection.