“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” – Luke 5:8
Simon Peter may have been a sinful man, but he was no fool. When there was the amazing catch of fish, he knew this wasn’t just a quirk of nature or a bit of random chance – this was Messianic. This Jesus in the boat with him, this boat now filled with fish and sinking, was the Messiah. And so Peter does the only logical thing – he begs Jesus to leave.
This isn’t because he hates God or is an unbeliever. Oh no, to the contrary. Peter is a pious man, and he is well aware of his own sin. And he knows his Scripture well enough to know that sinful men who wander into God’s way get dragged down into death. Quickly. And so at that moment he begs for God to be merciful – and he thinks God’s mercy means God will just go and leave him alone.
That’s not why Jesus had come. He came to put an end to the separation between God and man that sin had brought about. Mercy would not be God stepping away and not smiting sinful man; mercy would be God Himself becoming man and taking up all the sin of the world and smiting it in His own body upon the Cross.
And so Jesus, Peter’s Savior, simply looks at Peter and says, “Do not be afraid; from now one you will be catching men.” Not only am I not sending you out of my presence, Peter, but you will be bringing more and more people into My presence – My merciful and forgiving and saving presence.
And that’s where we are. We are those who have been caught up by God by the power of the Word. And now, we enter His presence knowing that our sin is forgiven by Christ Jesus. And Christ in His true mercy continues to come to us in His Word and in His Supper, so that we would be forgiven and live with Him eternally. Jesus does not depart from you – He catches you and makes you His own!