When we read the story of Jesus calling the first disciples to follow him, I think we sometimes have this idea that they simply dropped everything and went, without a second thought. It’s Jesus, after all.
But each of the gospels has its own account of what happened. We might want to condense the story into a simple run-on sentence “Jesus went to the lakeshore and told some fishermen to come and follow him and they will fish for people and they dropped everything and went.” But it isn’t that simple.
First of all, John’s story is more complicated and doesn’t involve fish at all, and, second, it’s just not that simple. Luke, in particular, makes that clear. In fact, I don’t think Luke’s story is really about Jesus. It’s about Simon.
In Luke’s story, Jesus has been hanging around for a bit. In fact, in the previous chapter, he already knows Simon and has been staying at his house. He’s even helped Simon’s mother, who was ill. Then, he’s doing some teaching by the lake and he sees that Simon, a fisherman, hasn’t caught anything even though he’s been out all night. Jesus tells him to go out again, into deep water, and this time there are so many fish that he has to get help. Amazed and overwhelmed, Simon tells Jesus to go away. “I’m a sinful man,” he says. But Jesus says “come with me.”
It might seem like all it takes is faith in Jesus to drop everything and go, but I wonder if Luke isn’t reminding us that it takes something else, too: faith in yourself. You have to participate.
To me, it seems like Simon might feel unworthy of Jesus. He’s been getting to know him for a couple of days, he’s seen him work, heard him speak. Luke says everyone around there was pretty impressed with Jesus, I can’t imagine Simon wasn’t, too. It also seems to me that he might be feeling a little embarrassed that he, a professional fisherman, hadn’t caught anything and suddenly, with Jesus’ advice, has caught enough to feed the village. I can see how Simon might have been feeling pretty low.
So I wonder if Jesus said “I believe in you, Simon. You are worthy just as you are. Come with me and see what else you can do.”
Jesus had faith in Simon because Jesus knows what many of us so often seem to forget: we are enough, just as we are. Enough to go forward, enough to try new things, enough to dream and live into those dreams, enough to be fully and wholly who we are.
Simon was certainly not what he - and others - would think is perfect, he’ll prove that repeatedly to Jesus in the days ahead, but he’s the perfect one and only Simon. And he’ll be exactly that. So can we.
Faith in God is just one piece. To live and love like Jesus, we need to believe in ourselves, that we are enough, just as we are, to be the best version of ourselves. And that can change the world.