Monday 26th February – Luke 5:4-11 ‘Humbling holiness’

Luke 5:4-11

Being in the presence of a truly holy person can be an uncomfortable experience.  Back in 1995, I recall meeting one of the holiest people I’ve ever met – someone who really lived the apostolic life we read in the pages of the New Testament – and feeling both terrified and strangely drawn into their presence.  The authority of Jesus practically radiated from them, and it was an awesome thing.

That day, I think I understood a fraction of what Simon must have experienced in the boat in today’s famous story.  He’s just been told by Jesus to do something which no fisherman would ever do, and witnessed an extraordinary miracle.  Add that to the hundreds of people gathered to listen to Jesus while the Messiah is in his boat, and the spontaneous healing of his mother-in-law recently, and the ‘divine encounters’ are multiplying rapidly. Jesus is clearly on his case, and, like most of us, he just can’t see why.  ‘Go away from me Lord; I am a sinful man!’  In other words: ‘why on earth would you want to spend time with a wretch like me?’

It is an awesome thing to be befriended by Jesus.  Sometimes we can get a bit cosy with that idea: but Simon’s encounter sets us straight.  Simon knows who this extraordinary human being is: he calls him ‘Lord’ – the Almighty God, the divine ruler of the universe.  Jesus is inviting him to nothing less than to be friends with the king.

Very few of us ever get to be friends with an actual earthly monarch: but the amazing news of our faith is that the King of kings invites all of us into friendship.  Not just terrified submission, but real, intimate, loving relationship.  Jesus sees, and embraces, not just who we are, but (as he does with Simon) who we can become.  This was what Simon found so awesome, and Jesus reassures him: ‘don’t be afraid’.  He says it to us, too, today: however unworthy you feel, don’t be afraid.  I desire your friendship.

Jesus, of course, goes further: he gives Simon a life-changing task.  That, too, is a typical outcome of becoming Jesus’ friend.  Our call may not be as big as Simon’s: but we can likewise find a new – or renewed – purpose as we grow in our friendship with the Lord.

May God grant us all a renewed vision today of just how amazing – and awesome – it is to be invited into Jesus’ friendship.  And may we, too, find our true and inspiring purpose as we journey with our divine master and friend.