Have you asked Jesus to leave you alone yet? Maybe you are like me and you were called by Jesus as a young adult. Or maybe you have known of Jesus your entire life. Maybe your earliest memories of childhood include Sunday school songs about Jesus and memory verses at church. So, why would you ever ask Jesus to leave you alone? It is an absurd thought, isn’t it? After all this time, you have Jesus! Don’t you want him to stay? I propose that if you don’t ask Jesus to depart from you, then you may not know him at all. Follow me to the shores of Gennesaret (Lake Galilee) more than 2000 years ago as told by Luke.
1On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
Jesus was on the scene and being pressed by the large crowd following him and listening to him teach, he ran out of dry ground and was basically forced to climb into a boat. Jesus climbed into Simon’s (Peter) boat. Do you think this boat choice was a random selection? No, it wasn’t random. Before time began the Father set an appointment with the Messiah in Peter’s life to have this discussion. Jesus showed up on time, as he always does.
4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”
Peter’s boat was close enough to where Jesus was teaching to over hear what he taught. Then, he taught FROM THE BOAT! Peter was in the boat listening to Jesus teach. But the teaching didn’t sink in. When Jesus tells Peter to be obedient to his commands and to have faith in the Word of God, Peter betrayed himself. He did not believe. Peter had no faith. Peter was lost. Peter’s disbelief was unrepentant sin in his life.
6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.
Jesus performed a miracle in front of Peter’s eyes. Jesus challenged his disbelief and with signs and wonders showed him who he was. Jesus revealed his holiness and glory to Peter. Peter then does an amazing thing, a crazy thing:
8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
Peter came face to face with the living God. Peter saw his sinfulness as he faced the Christ. Peter fell to his knees out of utter astonishment and adoration and reverence and pleads with Christ: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
Peter didn’t plead, “depart from me I am not worthy”. He didn’t plead, “depart from me, you are so powerful.” He didn’t plead, “depart from me you are too important.” No, Peter pleads, “depart from me, for I AM A SINFUL MAN!” Peter saw his condition and standing before the living and infinitely holy God.
I can’t read this passage without remember the words of Isaiah in his vision that are so similar as he faced the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in the temple:
5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
Oh, woe is me! I am a sinful man. Peter saw what Isaiah saw. Have we come face to face with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and seen our condition?Have we seen it? Have we seen our dirty and wretch robes? Have we cried out: “DEPART FROM ME! I AM SINFUL MAN!” Have we acknowledged that we do not belong in the presence of the holy and mighty God? Have we asked Him to depart from us yet because we understand our sinfulness yet?
Only when we reach this understanding of our sin and Christ’s holiness and his blood bought purchase of us as his people on the cross can we then have the hope that was given to Isaiah:
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” 8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
“Your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for!” Fall on your face, acknowledge your condition before your God and do not fear. Because you will ask him to depart because you are so sinful and can’t stand in his presence, but he will never leave. He will never leave you. He has already died for you. He has already justified and redeemed you. He will pull you up and say, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” Leave everything and follow him.