A Snapshot of Jesus' Glory ~ BitterSweetLife

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Snapshot of Jesus' Glory

Or: Seeing Glory in a Fish Story (Luke 5)

Clearly, this will be an adjustment, since what I usually see in fish stories is good ol' boys with beer guts and enough equipment to open a floating tackle shop. Fortunately, in this story there are no funky-smelling bait boxes, no tricked-out bass boats, just a couple brawny brothers sailing through choppy water.

It had been a long night, because Peter and Andrew had successfully discovered every fish-less sector of the sea, and they had done all this without the benefit of coffee. At the moment Jesus yelled at them, they were not feeling like men who would turn the world on its head. They were just ticked off and wanting sleep.

Jesus was on the shore, teaching, and he began his relationship with Peter by commandeering his boat, which was a not-so-subtle way of pointing out who would be top dog from there on out. A few minutes later, after he finished his sermon, Jesus built on his preliminary cockiness by telling Peter how to do his job. "Hey Peter, try fishing the other side." Peter: "Of the lake?" Jesus: "No, of the boat." The amazing thing? Peter listened.

We can pause here and observe that there was something about Christ that demanded not just respect, but obedience. It was remarkable that Peter and Andrew didn't douse this presumptuous young teacher in salt water. It was more remarkable that they allowed him to seize their boat and order them around. Charisma? Jesus had a
convincingly powerful glory.

He also had a
complication-causing glory. After Peter and Andrew took Jesus' fishing advice (against all odds) and found a swarm of fish swimming in their nets (against all odds again) they were faced with a further problem: What to do with all these fish?

The good thing was that Peter and Andrew would be able to pay the rent for several months and feed their families unlimited fish sandwiches. The bad side was that they were surrounded by hundreds of highly motivated, scaly fish who were starting to rip the nets apart and sink the boat. Jesus' blessings caused complications. Peter and Andrew hastily called in some extra help, and they got the sinking boat to shore.

We can pause again now, and observe that, in a sense, it's no wonder that people called Jesus a trouble-maker. He brought blessing into people's lives and then left them to deal with the consequences--to sink or swim under the weight of unexpected healing or forgiveness...or fish. Most people couldn't handle this kind of shocking, undiluted blessing and the trouble it caused.

And now the story gets
really interesting. Upon arriving back on the beach, Peter was struck by the fact that Jesus was more than a wise young man with a prescience about sea creatures. He was so disconcerted by Christ's presence that he--what do you think?

A) Said, "I thought I was a real fisherman, but you, Jesus, are the Master," B) Shook Jesus' hand with a bashful appreciation, C) Offered to make Jesus his business partner with a 50/50 cut, D) fell on his face at Christ's feet, pleading with him to go away?

If you answered D, then you've hit upon another aspect of Christ's glory. Words completely fail at this point, but we could haltingly call it an alien, contagious glory. Jesus' holiness must have washed over the shore that day. His purity and strong integrity reflected the lives of those around him like a disco ball with x-ray properties. No wonder Peter groveled.

Picture Jesus standing at the shoreline. He stays and lets his holiness be felt, lets his weight of glory
lean... "Leave me alone, I'm rotten to the core," pleads Peter. Andrew and the other men stand dumbfounded. But Jesus takes a further step: He pulls Peter to his feet, like Jack Bauer treating a criminal gently. "Don't be afraid," says Jesus. "From now on you will be catching men."

Peter will be an evangelist. The sinner will cast gospel nets. Consider Peter's future life. It reads like
Man Bites Dog: Sinner Catches Men. And this type of reversal reveals the contagious glory of Christ, the kind that makes a dirty, bare-knuckle, loud-mouth fisherman (I see Peter as a kind of Irish/Jew) into a contra mundum witness. From that day forward, Peter begins carrying a transforming message because he had been and was being transformed.

Consider the convincingly powerful, complication causing, alien, contagious glory of Jesus. And this is just a snapshot, what we can notice in five minutes from a fish story by the sea.

Thanks to my dad, John Vanderhorst, for inspiring this post with his message, A Great Catch.

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Just Me said...

You have given me more to think about this passage. These are very insightful thoughts.

R. Sherman said...


BTW, you're probably making a mistake using all you're good sermon material on the internet. You should save some of it for your first church.


Ariel said...

BTW, you're probably making a mistake using all you're good sermon material on the internet.

Why hasn't this occurred to me earlier? From here on out, it's book reviews only...

gymbrall said...

Why hasn't this occurred to me earlier? From here on out, it's book reviews only...

Or, you could start the first church that does nothing but book reviews... Actually, forget it, I'm pretty sure someone's beat you to it...


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife