When Peter, a hard-headed fisherman, met Jesus he was intrigued. He listened to Jesus’s teachings. He brought Jesus home for dinner and to meet his family. He even let Jesus borrow his boat. But it wasn’t until Jesus produced a miraculous catch of fish that Peter started to have an inkling of Jesus’s true identity—the incarnate son of a Holy God. Once this revelation sank in, Peter’s response to Jesus was understandable. He “fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man’” (Luke 5:8)!
Jesus’s response to Peter was unexpected. He did not “go away.” Instead he drew even closer to Peter. He knew Peter’s sins and understood the depth of Peter’s depravity better than Peter did himself. And yet, Jesus did not flee or back away. Instead, he offered Peter and his fishing buddies the opportunity of a lifetime. “‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men’” (Matthew 4:19). They didn’t need to think twice about their answer. “They pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him” (Luke 5:11).
It is amazing that Jesus—the Holy One of God—seeks out sinners! If we are honest, we can recognize the sin in our own hearts. We may be able to hide it from our acquaintances, our friends and possibly our families. But we know it is there: the hurt we have caused, the pain, callousness, selfishness, or failure to be kind and forgiving. We are not proud of it and relegate it to our conscience’s locked box of shame and hope that no one ever discovers the contents.
But Jesus already knows what is inside! He knows what is within our hearts and our minds. He is privy to our inner thoughts, and he does not flee! Instead, he extends his hand and gives us the same invitation as he did to Peter. He says: “Follow me.”
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” 1 Timothy 1:15
Part 1 of "Jesus: Friend of Sinners"