Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken. (Luke 5 v5-8)
I’m not sure what cultural mileau this photograph heralds from but it appealed to me immediately because of the contorted face of the central character. At first glance it looks like he is in a worshipful pose with hands raised high. However, it could also be that he is also in agony or anguish – a person bemaning his lot, pleading for realease rather than praising.
The scripture (above) is the next thing that came to mind with the words ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’ Peter speaks them because whenever in Jesus’ presence he finds himself battling a range of emotion where he:
- shows faith when venturing out to walk on the water then doubts Jesus.
- tells Jesus he’ll never disown or denounce him only to do so in the space of an evening.
- initially refuses to allow Jesus to serve him during the Last Supper
In short, Peter is a maverick – he’s unpredictable. He speaks rashly and acts in ways that no one expects – but there can be no douting his heart despite everything else that happens and for which he has to repent and learn from it in regard to the needs of the community. I think we would all do well to be a bit more like Peter- despairing and delirious, encouraged and exacerbated, full on and falling off. Peter doesn’t live by half-measures. Moreover, God who sees the heart knows this ‘wild card’ is the rock on which He will build the Church.