But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”… And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men” (Luke 5:8, 10 ESV).
Recently, my Bible reading had me in Isaiah 6:1-8 and Luke 5:1-11 on the same day. In both these passages, God calls people to his mission. In both passages, the people he called confessed their sinfulness, and both times God still appointed them to his service.
In Isaiah 6, the prophet Isaiah saw a vision of the Lord in his throne room, surrounded by fiery angelic beings and full of glory. Immediately, Isaiah cries out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa 6:5). One of the angelic beings picks up a live coal from the altar of incense and touches it to Isaiah’s lips (ouch!). Then, when the Lord asks who will go for him, Isaiah can respond, “Here I am! Send me” (Isa 6:8).
In Luke 5, Jesus has just told Simon to cast his net on the other side of the boat. Simon had fished all night with no luck, but when he follows the Lord’s instructions, his nets become so full they are ripping and his boat is so full of fish it is starting to sink! Clearly in the presence of a miracle worker from God, Peter falls on his knees and cries out (like Isaiah), “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8).
I love Jesus’s response. “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men” (Luke 5:10).
God knew about both Isaiah’s sin and Peter’s sin, and yet he still appointed them to serve him. God knew my sin, and knows all about all my future sins, and yet he still gave his life on the cross for me. He still called me to be a pastor—knowing about all the times he would have to forgive me.
And he knows about your sins, past, present, and future. Yet, he still has appointed you to be his witness in your home, in your neighborhood, and in your workplace. He still has made a room for you in his house and given you a place at his table. Just like God provided atonement for Isaiah and forgiveness for Simon, he has atoned for and forgiven our sins through the cross.
We often say, “God knew my sin and loved me anyway.” It’s also true to say, “God knew my sin and called me anyway.” What a wonderful thing to be loved, forgiven, and called, whether as a pastor, a mom, a service technician, a machinist, an engineer, a project manager, a social worker… and the list goes on (you get the point).