Tuesday, July 3, 2012

More Thoughts on Trinity 5

Taking a second glance at this Sunday's Gospel, got me thinking about why Peter says, "Depart from me Lord for I am a sinful man." In my last post (Thoughts on Trinity 5: When Fisherman Become Nets), l said that what Peter says is true. I would like to modify that statement. What Peter says is only half true.

Here's the truth: Peter is a sinful man. But why should that mean that the Lord must depart? That is the falsehood. That is false humility and a false confession. That is the voice of Satan. For Adam, when hearing the Lord walking in the garden after the fall, did not cry out "Depart from me." He hid. He was afraid and so he hid.

But that didn't stop the Lord. He found him. He went to Adam. He called Adam to Himself and gave the first fair trial. In fact the history of Scripture is how God longs to and draws ever closer to be with His creatures. He comes to them. He finds ways to be with them. He ensures that He will be there God by dwelling with them.

So no it is not a foregone conclusion that the Lord must depart. The conclusion is that Peter must repent. And that's inconvenient. It's inconvenient because we like our sin. We like the status quo. We don't like people rocking the boat. We like to carve out parts of our lives to hide in. We want to be like the atheist who cares for no one but himself and what he wants. And so we become practical atheists, compartmentalizing our lives: This part for God and this part for me. And the things of God become relegated to one hour of one day of the week.

And even then, we say depart from me Lord, for I am sinful and I can't bear to deal with it. I'd rather be ignorant of it. I don't want to die so I will act as if the road I'm on isn't the slow slaughterhouse drive that every cow and pig must take.

But when you are standing before Jesus you can't ignore it. For you can't deny death when you're standing in front of the Lord of Life, But it is only by standing in front of the Lord of Life that you can escape death. We are always afraid that things will change, that they will be different. And so we ask the Lord to depart so that we don't have to face it. But the point is it won't really be that different. You will still die. But now you will live because you are with, you are in the Lord of life.

And so Jesus replies: I'm not going anywhere. I am the Lord who dwells with His people. I am Emmanuel. "Do not be afraid. From now on you will be catching men alive." Don't be afraid. I will not abandon you. I am with you always, unto the end of the age. I am in the boat. No I will not abandon you. You will have to abandon me, you will have to jump ship. You will have to die in the water. For fish can only live in the boat, in the baptismal waters of the boat.


  1. I think what we see is Peter's response to the Law. The boat is sinking. He is dying. He recognizes the source. When he says, "Depart from me," he is asking the Lord to be Jonah. It is not the great number of fish that are bringing them down, but the Lord. So the Lord should get out of the boat and Peter will keep the fish and everything will be fine.

    The Law has worked terror in him, but not repentance. Then the Lord delivers the Gospel: "Don't be afraid." Peter is saved. Now he can bring the boat to shore only to abandon it. Now he asks not that the Lord depart but follows Him. Following someone is quite the opposite of asking him to depart.

    The fish were not the Gospel. They betrayed Peter - as all creation serves the Lord and hands us over to Him. The gospel is not in stuff - not in creation - but in the words and promises of Christ. "Don't be afraid." The message of angels when Christ was born is the message to Peter, the essence of the Gospel: "Don't be afraid. God isn't angry. The sea can't have you. He comes in peace to make peace." Etc.

  2. @ Petersen: I think I was trying to say what you actually said. Only you said much better and much more clearly. Thanks!

  3. @ Petersen: The more I think about this actually, I think you went a whole lot deeper than I did, especially that bit about creation betraying us, exposing us for who we really are for the ox knows his master, the ravens know from where their food comes.

    Another bit that emphasizes that Peter is not gung ho is the parallel between Isaiah 6. Isaiah is eager: "Here am I, send me, send me." Peter isn't: "Depart from me."

    On preaching this, perhaps our focus should be not on Peter's call to be a catcher of men, but instead on his call, that is, his calling, his vocation. How often are we unwilling participants in the Lord's call to do what He has called us to do? How often do we ask Him to depart because we don't want to be a father, mother, husband, wife, or worker? In fact, isn't all sin a rejection of the Lord and thus a rejection of His calling, our vocation?

    Just some more thoughts.

  4. I was thinking, of course, of the great poem by Francis Thompson, "The Hound of Heaven." http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-hound-of-heaven/

    "All things betray thee who betrayest Me."


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