Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fishers of Men (Paraphrase of Chapter 2 of The Training of the 12 by AB Bruce) - part 4

We get a glimpse into the spiritual state of the twelve through an early interaction of Peter with Jesus. Pressed by the crowds assembled on the shore of the lake, Jesus entered Peter’s boat and asked him to push out a little from the shore. Jesus sat on the boat and taught the people from the vessel. After He finished speaking, Jesus told Peter, “go out where it is deeper and let down your nets, and you will catch many fish.” Their previous efforts to catch fish had been unsuccessful, but Peter and his brother did what Jesus directed and were rewarded by a miraculous catch. Peter, the most demonstrative of the fishermen, fell down at Jesus feet saying, “depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man”.  

This episode opens a window into the spiritual state of Peter. We observe a mixture of good and evil, of grace and nature, which so frequently reappears in his character. Among the good elements we see is the reverential awe in the presence of divine power. Peter also demonstrates a tender conscience and quick repentance.  While these are strong character qualities, they were mixed with a superstitious dread of the power of God. This is what Jesus addressed when he told Peter, “do not fear, from now on you will be catching men”. But this slavish fear is strongly apparent when Peter says, “depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man”. Peter’s state of mind demonstrates just how utterly unfit he was at this time to be an apostle of a gospel which magnifies the grace of God even to the worst of sinners. His view of God at this time was not a Christian one, but was entirely legal, even somewhat pagan in its spirit. 

With all of their many imperfections, these humble fishermen of Galilee had one grand and distinguishing virtue: they were energized by a devotion to Jesus and to the divine kingdom that made them capable of any sacrifice. They believed Him who called them and immediately left their nets and followed Him.

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