When Jesus Calls, How Do We Respond?

Key Scriptures

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

He said, “Go and tell this people:

“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

Then I said, “For how long, Lord?”

And he answered:

“Until the cities lie ruined
and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted
and the fields ruined and ravaged,
until the Lord has sent everyone far away
and the land is utterly forsaken.
And though a tenth remains in the land,
it will again be laid waste.
But as the terebinth and oak
leave stumps when they are cut down,
so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”

Isaiah 6 : 1 - 16

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

1 Corinthians 15 : 1 - 11

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

Luke 5:1-11

Have you ever had someone at work that always knows how to do things better than anyone else.  In our gospel today, Jesus, whose ministry has just begun with some teaching and healing, turns up at the lakeside and starts telling Simon the fishermen what to do – you can imagine that after a night of fishing and catching nothing, the last thing Peter and his crew needed was someone  telling them to go fishing again.  But, of course, there is another purpose to this episode than simple instructions about fishing, as we shall see.

Jesus is teaching the crowd but they soon disappear from view and the encounter between Jesus and Peter comes into focus.

When Jesus calls he convinces us of His power

He tells him to put out into deep water and let their nets out for a catch and, of course, they catch a boat full of fish.  If someone telling you how to do your job is annoying, it’s even more annoying when they are right!  But Peter isn’t annoyed at Jesus, he is humbled by the power of Jesus.  I wonder, in our spiritual lives, whether you have ever felt like Peter at the start of this encounter when he says: ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.’

Maybe you feel like this in your work life, ‘I’ve been working hard for years and I can’t see what difference I make’ or in your prayer life, you have been praying for something for a long time.  The amazing thing is that Jesus is able to accomplish in seconds what Peter wasn’t able to accomplish all night.

When Jesus calls we become aware of our sinfulness

The thing that many characters in the bible share in common is a feeling of unworthiness of the task to which they are being called.  Isaiah, with the amazing vision he has is convinced that he will die having seen God:  ‘‘Woe to me!’ I cried ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty’’

Or take Paul: ‘I am the least of all the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God’

Peter, too, is humbled by this encounter with Jesus, also becoming aware of his sinfulness: ‘When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’

But instead of sending Peter away, Jesus comforts him with the simple phrase ‘Don’t be afraid’ – you are in the presence of the Messiah but it’s OK, I have a job for you to do.

When Jesus calls us, he sends us out

It is right that none of us are worthy of serving God but neither are we disqualified from serving.  It is right that we should be aware of our sin, but it is also right that we should take that sin to the only place it can be dealt with – as Paul reminds us in Corinthians ‘that Christ died for our sins’.   Having been forgiven, we are sent out to serve him, like Peter, and become fishers of people.

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