How does someone approach these three readings of today? In the first Isaiah declares himself unfit for prophesy, yet becomes one of the greatest prophets. In the second Paul addresses the church at Corinth, and tells his biography. He was initially a great persecutor of Christians, but eventually becomes known as the Apostle to the Gentiles. In the third a tired fisherman named Peter is obedient to a carpenters son, and takes his boat out even though head not caught anything all day. Without first considering the writing of Isaiah, or the letter of Paul; what do we know about the turning point in their lives? For Isaiah, he accepted being a prophet. For Paul, he accepted the call of Christ. For Isaiah, being a prophet placed him in honor but what were the risks. What happened to a prophet when their prophecy did not turn true? What if they were declared a false prophet? For that the fate was death. Isaiah questioned his worthiness, and he also feared the task. Yet he did what God had asked him to do. He left the safety of comfort and sailed into deep unchartered waters. He didn’t do what was easy, he did what was required.
The same is true with Paul. Paul was a vigorous persecutor of Christians, and he was a devout and well educated Pharisee. When on the road to Damascus, Christ appeared and said Paul why are you persecuting me; Paul left the religion he knew and followed the course of the Christians. Not an easy thing to do, Paul could have had a comfortable existence following the Judaism he knew. Instead, he followed Christ. He placed himself before that persecution he once practiced on Christians. In listening to Christ, he placed himself in the danger from the Pharisees and faced uncertainty with the Christians. Would they reject one that was so cruel to them? Paul did not take an easy course, a point he makes in that letter to the Corinthians.
The same is true of Peter when Jesus asks him to fish in those deep waters. The sea is a dangerous place, and he placed himself at great risk going into those waters even though he was certain there were no fish. Yet he was obedient, and reaped an abundant catch. Charting a course into deep waters is common for those early disciples, Jesus often asks they place themselves far from comfort. He asks them to take risks, and challenges them to go where they would prefer to avoid. Yet the follow his command and reap a great reward. When I think of those disciples leaving the safety of those shores, I think of that storm at sea. I think of them landing on a shoreline haunted by demons. I also see them witnessing Christ overcome the stormy waters, and gaining victory over those demons. I see the strength the gain when facing those challenges. I also look at these readings and the calendar today. Ash Wednesday is three days away, and for forty days Christ asks that His disciples leave the comfort of the shore, and travel to deep and uncomfortable and challenging and treacherous waters. The Lenten season should be something profound, and should go deep into a persons soul. It should visit our uncomfortable sickness, and brokenness, and sins so that we might be healed like those demons far across the sea.