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Gottesblog

A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Thoughts on Trinity 5: When Fishermen Become Nets

After Peter pulls in the busting nets, having let them down at the Lord's Word, he turns to Jesus and says: "Depart from me for I am a sinful man, O Lord." And Jesus replies: "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men." 

Nevermind the change in words for Lord here (in verse 5 it's ἐπιστάτης, while in verse it's κύριος). It's important, but I'm more concerned with this: how does Jesus' reply really answer or fit Simon Peter's plea? Can you say non sequitur?

Matthew and Mark have the very familiar "Follow me and I will make you fishers (or fisherman, ἁλιεύς) of men" (Matt. 4:18–22; Mark 1:16–20). Luke doesn't say that. He says: "from now on you will be catching (ἔσῃ ζωγρῶν) men.” ζωγρέω is catching, but it's more than that. It means to catch, capture, or net alive. So in Luke, when Jesus says "from now on you will be catching men," He is saying that you will be capturing, catching, netting men alive. 

The picture here is not of the disciples sitting in their boats casting out the net of the Word to catch men. The picture is that Jesus is in the Boat casting out by His Word the disciples as nets to catch men alive. The disciples here are the net. Jesus is the Fisherman. 

And this is the picture that the whole account gives. Jesus is the one giving the directions. The disciples are just instruments for the Lord. They just do what Jesus wants. And even if they're busting under the pressure, the Lord is faithful. He knows what He's doing. 

And so, how does this answer Peter's plea? The Lord is the God of the living not the dead. He is catching men alive. And so He wants us alive not dead. And so do you really want me to depart form the boat? That, I think, is the last thing you want, Peter. Yes you are a sinful man. And, yes, I am the Lord. But let's stay in the boat together. For where I am, there is life even for sinners. And where there is life for sinners, there is forgiveness and salvation.

Come in from the deep and into the boat. The Lord wants to catch you alive. It is the only safe place for sinful men. Either that or be swallowed up by a bigger fish (Jonah 1:1–17) or be caught alive by the dragon from the sea (). May it not be so for us, may God grant us repentance, "leading to a knowledge of the truth, [that we] may come to [our] senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured (ἐζωγρημένοι) by him to do his will" (2 Tim 2:26).