Sometimes it is hard to be a follower of Jesus. That is why Paul’s daily prayer for the believers in Colossae—a community he had heard of from a friend of his, who happened to have started it—was: ‘May you be made strong in the strength that comes from God’s glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.’
They weren’t facing persecution, as the early Christians did from time to time, and many Christians around the world do today. It’s just hard, sometimes, being a follower of Jesus.
Paul’s sometime travel-companion Luke records the time when Jesus orchestrated a miraculous catch of fish, just to mess with the head of Simon Peter, a fisherman, who had worked a full night-shift and had nothing to show for it. Sometimes following Jesus is hard.
There’s this incredible moment when, the boat beginning to sink under a tsunami of sardines, Simon Peter ‘fell down at Jesus’ knees…’
Now, there are several occasions in the Gospels where it is recorded that someone fell down at Jesus’ feet, pleading him to help someone in serious danger, or thanking him for having done something wonderful for them, or even in overwhelming joy and adoration. It seems to be the kind of thing people do when Jesus shows up.
But in this episode, Simon Peter didn’t fall down at Jesus’ feet. Uniquely, he fell down at Jesus’ knees.
Why? Because Jesus is not stood before him. The implication of Simon Peter falling down at Jesus’ knees is that Jesus is on his knees.
Picture the scene: Jesus and Simon Peter are both on their knees, scooping up armfuls of slippery fish, trying to bail the boat out before it sinks, and in a moment in which time stands still their eyes meet. I can only imagine that the look of sheer terror on Simon Peter’s face is matched by Jesus’ most goofy expression: isn’t this amazing?!
You don’t need to be afraid, Simon. I’m right here with you, on our knees. I always will be.
And that is where we find Jesus, too. On his knees alongside us.
Putting in the heavy lifting.
Lightening our load.
Filling us with joy.