There is a story about a longtime prisoner in the Tower of London. Royal pardon released the prisoner, and the warden unlocked the door. The prisoner did not budge. “The king has had mercy on you. You’re free,” the warden said. “Yes,” replied the prisoner, “but I know the world of this cell. I do not know what lies beyond it.”
This story sheds light on the Scripture where familiarity wins out again and again over the wild world of God’s mercy. A few weeks into the wilderness, for example, and the Israelites yearned for “the fleshpots of Egypt,” the land of their oppression. God’s mercy can sometimes seem hard to stomach.
Peter’s encounter with divine mercy stuns him. When Jesus urges him to throw out his nets again, Peter can barely pull them in, loaded as they are. He looks at Jesus with sudden recognition: “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8) Peter’s encounter with Jesus is too much for him, but Jesus reels him in. Now Peter will fish for people, spreading divine mercy still further.
Lord, forgive our sins as we forgive others. Amen.
Today is the 17th Sunday after Pentecost. This message was adapted from the “Mercy Made Real: Disciples as Forgiven Forgivers” Bible study written by Martha E. Stortz that first appeared in the January/February 2008 issue of Lutheran Woman Today (now Gather) magazine. If you are reading “Daily Grace” online, sign up to receive it by email daily.