The gospel of Luke is written with a Gentile or Greek-speaking cultured people in mind. To them the author writes an account, composed using eyewitness accounts, of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Luke, compared to the other gospels, includes more of the role and importance of women and the poor, and relates the most parable teachings of Jesus in his story of who Jesus is, how he was and is in the world, and how that changes even us, today.
Jesus is gaining momentum in his movement. Having spoken in his hometown, declaring open and honestly his radical agenda of announcing God’s salvation for all peoples and tribes, he continues to grow a popular following as he travels and teaches. Here we witness such a public teach-in, seeming foreign in our cultural conceptions (why sit down instead of stand up to be seen?). The scene though focuses not on the crowd but on the fishermen who are asked to donate their empty boat as a podium. Later, Jesus humorously calls to them, inviting them to a new vocational endeavor. He’s not joking, but rather uses a pun to call them to fish for people, using their existing gifts, talents and strengths to accomplish something new.
We easily gloss over the fact that they seem to be failures, or at least not very good at fishing. Their boats are empty, even after a long-night of hard work. Jesus reframes their vision and expectation through a miraculous, unexpected catch which brings about Peter’s confession of both his lack of faith and his trust. The scene ends with a radical abandon: they leave their nets, their way of life to follow this man who has shown them something radically new.
Questions for the practice of Examen & Contemplation
- What strikes you in this passage? How does it interact with your life?
- This is one of the foundational stories of vocation, relating how Jesus calls us to live, for and by him. Often we struggle in life to see how Jesus uses us. It – and we – can seem like a failure or a non-event. Yet here Jesus starts not with successful fishermen, but rather with empty boats. How are apparent failures & success expectations that handicap you in your life of faith and relational trust of God?
- Peter simultaneously recognizes the righteousness of Jesus and his own sinfulness. How have you experienced that in your life? Does it lead you to action or inaction? Confidence or self-doubt? Why?
Study the text for yourself using some textual analysis notes [HERE] on the website of the church I serve.