Depart from me; for I am a sinful man - Εξελθε απ 'εμου, Go out from me, i.e. from my boat. Peter was fully convinced that this draught of fish was a miraculous one; and that God himself had particularly interfered in this matter, whose presence and power he reverenced in the person of Jesus. But as he felt himself a sinner, he was afraid the Divine purity of Christ could not possibly endure him; therefore he wished for a separation from that power, which he was afraid might break forth and consume him. It seems to have been a received maxim among the Jews, that whoever had seen a particular manifestation of God should speedily die. Hence Jacob seemed astonished that his life should have been preserved, when he had seen God face to face, Genesis 32:30. So the nobles of Israel saw God, and yet did eat and drink; for on them he had laid not his hand, i.e. to destroy them, though it appears to have been expected by them, in consequence of this discovery which he made of himself. See Exodus 24:10, Exodus 24:11; (note), and the notes there. This supposition of the Jews seems to have been founded on the authority of God himself, Exodus 33:20; : There shall no man see my Face and Live. So Moses, Deuteronomy 5:26; : Who is there of all flesh that hath heard the voice of the living God, speaking out of the midst of the fire as we have, and Lived? So Gideon expected to be immediately slain, because he had seen an angel of the Lord, and a miracle performed by him. See Judges 6:21-23. So likewise Manoah and his wife, Judges 13:22; : We shall surely Die, for we have Seen God. These different passages sufficiently show in what sense these words of Peter are to be understood.
When Simon Peter saw it - Saw the great amount of fishes; the remarkable success of letting down the net.
He fell down at Jesus‘ knees - This was a common posture of “supplication.” He had no doubt now of the power and knowledge of Jesus. In amazement, wonder, and gratitude, and not doubting that he was in the presence of some divine being, he prostrated himself to the earth, trembling and afraid. So should sinful people “always” throw themselves at the feet of Jesus at the proofs of his power; so should they humble themselves before him at the manifestations of his goodness.
Depart from me - This is an expression of Peter‘s humility, and of his consciousness of his unworthiness. It was not from want of love to Jesus; it did not show that he would not be pleased with his favor and presence; but it was the result of being convinced that Jesus was a messenger from God - a high and holy being; and he felt that he was unworthy to be in his presence. In his deep consciousness of sin, therefore, he requested that Jesus would depart from him and his little vessel. Peter‘s feeling was not unnatural, though it was not proper to request Jesus to leave him. It was an involuntary, sudden request, and arose from ignorance of the character of Jesus. We “are” not worthy to be with him, to be reckoned among his friends, or to dwell in heaven with him; but he came to seek the lost and to save the impure. He graciously condescends to dwell with those who are humble and contrite, though they are conscious that they are not worthy of his presence; and we may therefore come boldly to him, and ask him to receive us to his home - to an eternal dwelling with him in the heavens.
Day was breaking over the Sea of Galilee. The disciples, weary with a night of fruitless toil, were still in their fishing boats on the lake. Jesus had come to spend a quiet hour by the waterside. In the early morning He hoped for a little season of rest from the multitude that followed Him day after day. But soon the people began to gather about Him. Their numbers rapidly increased, so that He was pressed upon all sides. Meanwhile the disciples had come to land. In order to escape the pressure of the multitude, Jesus stepped into Peter's boat, and bade him pull out a little from the shore. Here Jesus could be better seen and heard by all, and from the boat He taught the multitude on the beach. DA 244.1Read in context »
The evening was pleasant, and Peter, who still had much of his old love for boats and fishing, proposed that they should go out upon the sea and cast their nets. In this plan all were ready to join; they were in need of food and clothing, which the proceeds of a successful night's fishing would supply. So they went out in their boat, but they caught nothing. All night they toiled, without success. Through the weary hours they talked of their absent Lord, and recalled the wonderful events they had witnessed in His ministry beside the sea. They questioned as to their own future, and grew sad at the prospect before them. DA 810.1
All the while a lone watcher upon the shore followed them with His eye, while He Himself was unseen. At length the morning dawned. The boat was but a little way from the shore, and the disciples saw a stranger standing upon the beach, who accosted them with the question, “Children, have ye any meat?” When they answered, “No,” “He said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.” DA 810.2
John recognized the stranger, and exclaimed to Peter, “It is the Lord.” Peter was so elated and so glad that in his eagerness he cast himself into the water and was soon standing by the side of his Master. The other disciples came in their boat, dragging the net with fishes. “As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.” DA 810.3Read in context »
He who taught Adam and Eve in Eden how to tend the garden, desires to instruct men today. There is wisdom for him who drives the plow and sows the seed. Before those who trust and obey Him, God will open ways of advance. Let them move forward courageously, trusting in Him to supply their needs according to the riches of His goodness. MH 200.1
He who fed the multitude with five loaves and two small fishes is able today to give us the fruit of our labor. He who said to the fishers of Galilee, “Let down your nets for a draft,” and who, as they obeyed, filled their nets till they broke, desires His people to see in this an evidence of what He will do for them today. The God who in the wilderness gave the children of Israel manna from heaven still lives and reigns. He will guide His people and give skill and understanding in the work they are called to do. He will give wisdom to those who strive to do their duty conscientiously and intelligently. He who owns the world is rich in resources, and will bless everyone who is seeking to bless others. MH 200.2
We need to look heavenward in faith. We are not to be discouraged because of apparent failure, nor should we be disheartened by delay. We should work cheerfully, hopefully, gratefully, believing that the earth holds in her bosom rich treasures for the faithful worker to garner, stores richer than gold or silver. The mountains and hills are changing; the earth is waxing old like a garment; but the blessing of God, which spreads for His people a table in the wilderness, will never cease. MH 200.3Read in context »
In this work it is best to make small beginnings in many places and allow God's providence to indicate how rapidly facilities should be increased. The small plants established will grow into larger institutions. There will be a distribution of responsibilities, and workers will thus gradually acquire greater mental and spiritual power. The establishment of these institutions will result in much good if all connected with them will suppress selfish ambition and keep ever in view the glory of God. Many of our people should be laboring in new fields, but let none seek notoriety. The minds of the laborers must be sanctified. 7T 61.1
In all our work let us remember that the same Jesus who fed the multitude with five loaves and two small fishes is able today to give us the fruit of our labor. He who said to the fishers of Galilee, “Let down your nets for a draft,” and who, as they obeyed, filled their nets till they broke, desires His people to see in this an evidence of what He will do for them today. The same God who gave the children of Israel manna from heaven still lives and reigns. He will guide His people and give skill and understanding in the work they are called to do. In answer to earnest prayer He will give wisdom to those who strive to do their duty conscientiously and intelligently. Under His blessing the work with which they are connected will grow to larger proportions, many will learn to be faithful burden bearers, and success will attend their efforts. 7T 61.2Read in context »