By Jon Hietbrink
“When Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
It wasn’t their first interaction, but it was the definitive one. In the course of an afternoon, Simon went from a fisherman hanging around the fringes of Jesus’ ministry to a fisher of men following his Lord, and this exchange became the fulcrum on which Peter’s life pivoted. Jesus’ command was simple but ludicrous; Peter’s response was hedged but obedient; the result was abundant but terrifying. Invited into this encounter by Luke, we see far more than an isolated event, but a paradigmatic experience of what it means to follow Jesus: He often asks us to step into deeper water than we are comfortable with, and He does it to show us more of Himself.
Isn’t this “deep water” experience the regular testimony of Jesus’ disciples in the gospels? Consistently engulfed by the destitute, increasingly combatted by the elite, inexplicably commanded to feed thousands, prematurely (it would seem!) sent to proclaim the nearness of the Kingdom, and ultimately entrusted with God’s message of salvation to the ends of the earth, the disciples’ journey of following Jesus was regularly akin to jumping into the deep end of the pool and learning to swim. Being “over their heads” wasn’t an exceptional circumstance, it was relentlessly normal.