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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Thursday, February 11

When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!"
—Luke 5:8

These are the words of a stunned Simon Peter, watching his fishing nets nearly burst from their load of swarming fish. Earlier in the story, Jesus climbs into Peter’s boat and tells him to take the boat into deeper water where the fish are biting. Peter doesn’t much believe Jesus (after all, Peter is the fisherman; Jesus is a carpenter), but he follows Jesus’ instructions. He lets down the nets, and fish fill them to the breaking point.

Peter’s reaction is amazing: "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!" My reaction to such a bonanza would probably have been excitement and celebration; Peter, on the other hand, is filled with humility. He has glimpsed the power and knowledge of Jesus and is overwhelmed by his own sinfulness; he even feels unworthy to be in Jesus’ presence.

Peter’s humility is not false modesty. He knows he is a good fisherman, but this is not about fishing. This is about the presence of the Holy One, the Lord. When we draw near to God, the only appropriate response is awe, silence, and wonder.

One of my favorite preachers is a Presbyterian minister named Joanna Adams. I still remember a sermon she preached once: "When God told Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM, ' God meant, ‘and you are not.’" Stories like this one about Peter remind us of that truth. They also remind us that as flawed and fractured as we are, God chooses people like us to share God’s love and mercy and abundant blessings with others.

Peter was shocked and awed by the power of Jesus; imagine his reaction when Jesus chose him to be the rock upon which the church would be grounded. With God, all things are possible.

O God, we are not worthy to stand before you, but only say the word and we shall be healed. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2007.