Formations lesson for February 8: Recognizing Our Sinfulness : Friday, Jan. 23, 2004
January 23 2004 by Jimmy Allen

Formations lesson for February 8: Recognizing Our Sinfulness : Friday, Jan. 23, 2004
Friday, Jan. 23, 2004

Formations lesson for February 8: Recognizing Our Sinfulness

By Jimmy Allen
Focal Passage: Luke 5:1-11

We find tension throughout scripture. None is more obvious than the fact that the Creator became one with us in order to provide a sacrifice for us.

With Moses, God appeared in a magnificent way. Moses removed his sandals because he was on holy ground. Yet in the Gospels, we discover Jesus saying to the disciples that He called them friends. The two views of God, on first impression, seem to be in opposition. But this week's passage reveals both views of God - someone all-powerful and yet someone with us.

A Regular Guy

Luke 5:1-3

Jesus had been teaching in the synagogue when we get to Luke chapter 5. But Jesus' words weren't received well in the synagogue. He was run out of town in an attempt to kill Him, and His days of teaching and preaching in the synagogue were coming to an end.

So Jesus went to the people along the lake of Gennesaret, also called the Sea of Tiberias or Sea of Galilee. This 8-mile by 13-mile harp-shaped lake was a source of food and income for people in Galilee and it attracted workers like Peter, James and John who invested in boats to catch fish. Jesus certainly doesn't come across as a religious leader out of touch with working people. He was so comfortable that He got into one of the boats and asked to go a little way from the shore so He could speak to the crowd. We get a picture of a regular guy, a carpenter, with other regular folks, including fishermen.

Do we see Jesus as a friend? Jesus said: "You are my friends if you do what I command you" (John 15:14).

Much More Than a Regular Guy

Luke 5:4-11

The regular guy scene ended quickly, though. Jesus told Simon Peter to go out and put down his fishing nets. The practical side of Peter showed in his response to Jesus: "Master, we have worked all night long, but have caught nothing." In other words, asking us to let down our nets doesn't make sense. There are no fish. Jesus knew differently.

Peter used a name for Jesus that is noteworthy. He called Jesus "master." That was a term used by disciples for Jesus, and Peter had not yet been called to follow Jesus.

Peter followed his initial comment with this: "Yet, if you say so, I will let down the nets." They, of course, caught more fish than they could hold - the boats were about to sink.

This was a powerful event for Peter. He was overwhelmed with the recognition that Jesus was more than a special teacher. Peter caught a sense of God's presence and fell before Jesus' knees, saying, "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man."

Although the introductory phrase of his comment may seem harsh, the fact he fell before the knees of Jesus conveys the emotion that goes with the comment.

He immediately knew of his insignificance, his failures when put in contrast with the significance, the perfection of God.

During my first year at Campbell University Divinity School, I had the opportunity to visit the Bible lands as part of a study tour. One night before we left, I had a dream about seeing Calvary, the place where Jesus was crucified. In my dream, I was so overpowered with the sense of God's grace shown at that place that I immediately fell to my knees. The reverence for God combined with the recognition of my own insignificance was overpowering.

When I actually got to the place that is traditionally considered the site of Calvary, I found the scene nothing like I had dreamed. But the sense of God's presence in the dream was real. It gave me an inkling of Peter's emotion.

"Not to Us, O Lord"

Are we willing to see God with the awe shown by Peter? Are we willing to see the power of God in contrast with our sin? If so, then we begin to get a glimpse of the pain we cause God when we allow our pride and our selfishness to separate us from Him. Then we can understand more clearly why Peter threw himself down at Jesus' knees.

Rich Mullin's popular song of praise repeats the line, "Our God is an awesome God." That statement is true. A hymn I've heard the men's chorus at Wake Forest Baptist Church in Wake Forest sing a few times captures that truth in a more inspiring way. With tenderness and power, the men's chorus sings the refrain: "Not to us, O Lord. Not to us, O Lord. But to Thy name give glory. To Thy name give praise."

Although the hymn isn't about Peter's recognition of his sinfulness, it does capture the awe for Jesus shown by a man who made his living fishing in the Sea of Gennesaret.

1/23/2004 12:00:00 AM by Jimmy Allen | with 0 comments

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