Reading recently in Luke 5 I found myself struck again at the majesty of Jesus.
What was it that could cause Simon to plead with Jesus to leave him (v. 8)?
Here Jesus the professional carpenter now turned teacher suggests some fishing direction to Simon the professional fisherman. Simon is likely a little put off by this recommendation. Maybe Simon is thinking something like, "Maybe you should stick to teaching or building houses Jesus" as he reminds Jesus that he's been fishing here all night and has caught nothing. Yet Simon submits to the teacher's request.
It's interesting how submitting to the Lord's direction, no matter how much it does not make sense at the time, leads into marvelous displays of His glory. This is precisely what happens here as Simon is overwhelmed and overcome at the glory of Christ unleashed in this miraculous event. Once again Jesus pulls back a corner of the veil to reveal His magnificence and majesty. This otherworldly majesty is what catches Simon off guard, disarms him, and leaves him uncomfortably exposed to the Holiness of the Holy One.
Simon responds like any in his place would, "Depart from me Lord for I am a sinful man." The encounter with the divine is terribly uncomfortable and troubling. Isaiah had a similar experience as he encountered the unhindered glory of the Lord he fell on his face and began to call down curses upon himself for his lack of holiness. Simon echoes Isaiah's terrors and his cries as he beholds but a glimpse of the glory of Christ.
Jesus is sensitive to the terror that is gripping Simon and He says, "Do not be afraid." This is the very same phrase that precedes the multiple Scriptural accounts of encounters with angels, who on the their appearing always encourage their terrified audience by telling them not to be afraid. Jesus follows up his encouraging words with a foretelling of Simon's new assignment, "from now on you will be catching men." He was telling Simon that just as He had arranged for Simon to become divinely effective and catch a great many fish so also He would arrange for Simon to become a new type of fisherman."
On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets." And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men." And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.