“Away From Me Lord, For I Am A Sinful Man” Luke 5:8
Why was Peter so hard on himself? After going all night without a catch, Jesus had told him to cast his nets once again. The multitude of fish in the nets almost sank his and his friends boats from the weight. The fisherman had just obtained the greatest catch of fish in his life. At this moment he should be jumping up and down with joy. Yet, here he is, on his knees before Jesus asking the Messiah to please go somewhere else. Why?
At that moment Peter did not see a loving God who gives great gifts. Instead Peter saw his own weakness and sin. This was totally understandable. He had fished an entire night and his hard work had produced nothing; his works had been shown to be useless and vain. Then comes Jesus, and after preaching and teaching for a while, he instructs Peter to go fish at the wrong time of day and the wrong place. Everyone would know that what Jesus commanded sounded silly, yet there was a great catch of fish.
At this moment Peter is not seeing the greatness of God, he is seeing his own futility and arrogance. Like Isaiah (Isaiah 6) and John (Revelation 1:17), Peter fell to his knees admitting his absolute unworthiness. Instead of judgment though, Jesus says, “Do not be afraid,” Then he tells Peter he’ll now be catching men, he’ll be a disciple. Did you see how this worked? Peter’s sin and fear completely warps his view of Jesus and the blessings that Jesus had given him. Peter, because of his sin, saw his blessings as curses. But against this, Jesus tells Peter to not be afraid, for Jesus was there for Peter’s own good.
Even today, our low view of ourselves constantly makes us afraid of God. Our twisted priorities see our constant blessings as a curse. But notice what Jesus says: “Peace be with you.” “Do not be afraid.” “I forgive you.” Jesus knows how our guilty feelings bring us down. When we humble ourselves, repent of our sins, and follow him Jesus catches us with this word of forgiveness. This is his great love for us.