Epiphany 5C, 2007
Luke 5:1-11


I like this story.
I like it because of the main character called Peter.
And he is so human!


In conventional churchy language and thinking,
this story by Luke has been regarded as a ‘call’ story.
But, I’m not so sure about that anymore.

In my conversations with this particular story
nowhere does Luke’s Jesus say to anyone: ‘Follow me’.
Those words are found in the other versions
by the storytellers we call Mark and Matthew.

And because we recognise a similar theme in Luke,
we do our own blending of all the stories,
into one general story.

But Luke, it seems to me, is saying something a bit more radical.
He is saying something about being ‘captivated’.
Peter and some of his friends are captivated by Jesus.

Both by being in Jesus’ presence. And by the life-giving words:
Don't continue to be afraid.
You will be restoring people to life and strength.
And Peter, it would seem, can ‘be’ this, and still stay good old Peter!

In my conversations with this story I have noted a couple of things.
(i)  Luke’s Jesus doesn’t invite Peter to be anything other than who he is.

He doesn’t challenge Peter to be a rabbi
or even to undertake a career in carpentry.
Peter remains a fisherman.

So this is not an invitation to change careers
or to become a ‘professional christian’.
It is an invitation for Peter to sense and touch the depths
of the sacred and of humanity in his own life.

(ii)  Luke’s Jesus doesn’t point Peter to some holy or sacred place.
But implies this can happen in the midst of ordinary everyday life.
Doing what they did most days,
sometimes with regular monotony.

So this is an invitation for Peter to ask himself:
• where do I need to grow?
• what deep waters call to me?
• where do I need to take a risk
in order to claim God’s adventure in my life
  (BEpperly P&F web site, 2007).

And the best thing that Luke’s Peter highlights for us is,
a regular bloke... a regular person...
does not cease to be a regular person just because
they are invited to experience the sacred in new ways.

One commentator, Mary Hinkle Shore put it this way:
“Jesus is not putting together a group of fellow superstars who can sing, ‘When we all retire, we will write the gospels, so they'll all talk about us when we've died.’  Jesus is putting together a prophetic community, a group of people who will live the gospel so that others can hear it and see it.  To do that, he will need all the regular people he can find”
(, 2007)


So let’s play with this story about an ordinary bloke called Peter...

(The following is based on a much better story by Jack Shea: ‘Going fishing’. I have a copy but not a reference.)

I don’t know if you know it or not, but Peter
used to slip down to the ‘local’ after a hard day’s fishing
and have a wine or three with his mates.

It was during one of these occasions that he met this bloke called Jesus.

After a few wines and some extended arguments
Peter reckoned it was time for him to assert his authority.

‘People know me’ he blurted out.
‘I am respected and looked up to. They often say:
There goes Peter, the greatest fisherman in all of Galilee’.

‘I hear you are a good fisherman, Peter’, said Jesus,
always ready with a few words of praise.

‘You’re damn right I am.
‘And tomorrow I am going to prove it.
‘We’re going fishing and you will see how the
other fisherman respect me and look to my lead’.

Having never been fishing before
and always on the lookout for new adventures, Jesus said:
‘I would love to go fishing.
‘But what will we do with all the fish we are going to catch?’

‘Well,’ Peter smiled the smile of the fox.
‘We’ll eat a few, store the rest, and then wait till there’s a shortage.
‘Then we’ll put them on the market at top dollar
and make a huge profit’.

Peter scratched his head.
And wondered how someone as obviously as intelligent as Jesus
could be so slow in some matters...

Well you know the next bit of the story.
Especially that bit about the mass suicide of fish
as they leapt into the boat,
landing in the lap of Jesus and smacking the astonished Peter in the face.

So let’s resume our story, after the boats have returned to shore
and using the words and imagination of a master storyteller, Jack Shea.

‘All the other fishermen were waiting.
‘They gathered around Peter and slapped him on the back.

‘Peter, you scoundrel. You knew where the fish were all the time and never let on.’

‘They hit him on the shoulder. ‘Peter, you old rogue. You led us on.
You surely are the greatest fisherman in all of Galilee.’

‘But Peter was uncharacteristically quiet. He only said,
‘Give the fish to everyone.
‘Tonight, no home in this village will go without food.’

‘After that, he said nothing.

‘But later at the pub with bread and wine between them
Peter looked across the table at Jesus and said,
Go away from me...
I wanted the fish to rule them not feed them.
You go away from me...

‘But Jesus smiled... He had no intention of going away...’


Perhaps Peter asked himself:
• where do I need to grow?
• what deep waters call to me?
• where do I need to take a risk in order to claim God’s adventure in my life
(BEpperly P&F web site, 2007).

Perhaps as a congregation we need to ask:
• what new and apparently impossible, adventure
does God invite us toward? 
(BEpperly P&F web site, 2007).

Captivated in this way, is accepting the invitation
to be become more than we ever imagined.
And we will need or the regular people we can find!