Early in Jesus Christ’s three-year earthly ministry, there was an occasion when He was on a ship in the Sea of Galilee with Peter. Jesus instructed Peter to move into the deeper waters and let down the nets that they might catch fish; to which Peter responded, “Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net” (Luke 5:5). Peter was a professional fisherman, and was shocked when he saw the ordinarily impossible amount of fish they were able to bring in, enough to cause two ships to begin to sink. Realizing the magnitude of the miracle in relation to the depth of his doubt previously, he threw himself at Jesus’ knees and cried, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8).
Peter’s attitude was one of humble reverence and awe. He had come to realize that there was more to Jesus than he had thought; despite the fact that his brother Andrew had told him that Jesus was the Messiah, and despite the fact that Nathanael had confessed the deity of Jesus (John 1:41,49). Peter at that point in time realized that he stood before One far greater than he; One with Whom he did not deem himself worthy of standing in His presence.
Many today say the same thing to Jesus that Peter said—although not for the same reason. They say, “Depart from me,” because they are sinful. However, they are desirous that Jesus depart because they have no interest in departing from their sinful lifestyles. Jesus offers “grace upon grace” to all (John 1:1617). This grace teaches mankind that all are to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live “soberly, righteously, and godly” (Titus 2:11-12). Such grace most men do not want part nor parcel of, so they tell Jesus to “depart,” along with the grace He offers. When people reject Christians trying to teach them Jesus’ message of hope, they are not rejecting those Christians, they are rejecting Christ (1 Sam. 8:7).
It is a good thing for Peter that Jesus did not depart from Him, but comforted Peter with the words, “Fear not.” Peter then devoted his life to following Jesus (Luke 5:10-11). Jesus did not depart from Peter because his attitude was right and he wanted to do right in the sight of the Lord. Those who reject Christ and ask Him to depart might want to reconsider. Although the pleasures of sin may be alluring while on this earth, if Christ does depart from someone that person has no hope. If Christ fulfills a sinner’s request to depart, Christ will on the final day turn that sinner’s request back upon him; echoing the words, “Depart from me” (Matt. 25:41).