The different gospels tell rather different stories of the call of the disciples – which is understandable. They wish to make rather different points and it is unlikely that the fishermen simply downed nets and followed Jesus in one single moment, as Mark summarises. Luke has told us that Jesus has met Simon, been to his house and healed his mother-in-law. More generally Jesus has become known for the healings and miracles. The crowd were interested to hear Jesus teaching, and Jesus asks the rather weary fishermen if he can stand in their boat so he can teach the people. And then ..
The turning point is this miraculous catch of fish. The one who has healed people now does something that makes the experience fishermen think again – telling them to put out their nets. Morning is not the time to fish; night fishing is what these fishermen did, because that was their best time to fish. Against their better judgement they put out their nets again (which they have just tidied away! – so more work needed to get them in and clean afterwards!)
This catch is big enough for both boats and more. It is like no other catch they have had. Simon has enough insight to see that Jesus is different and he falls down at his feet, a sinner in the presence of the holy.
And then we get this strange idea of the disciples catching people. This was not an unknown metaphor or image, but Jesus gives these fishermen a new role; it is an image that they can understand from their background.
Luke presents the call of Peter rather like the account of the call of Isaiah in the OT, except that Isaiah is called from the Temple and Peter called from his ordinary workplace, and the glory of God is now the miraculous power of God. Luke also has echoes of Abraham who left his family and home at the call of God. It is life-changing in its offer and its demand.
For us – have we sensed the holy majesty of Jesus? Have we responded? Has it changed us?
Rev’d Peter Reiss