A medical MRI exposes bone, muscle, and organs in detailed three dimensional pictures for detailed examination. The doctor sees every normal and abnormal feature to find what is wrong and determine a course of treatment. Imagine a spiritual MRI exposing memories of words spoken and actions taken, and the inner thoughts that you share with no one. In the presence of God, the thoughtful person realizes his own unworthiness and inferiority.
When God spoke to Job of his great power and wisdom, Job said he would cover his mouth and say nothing else, Job 40:3-5. When the prophet Isaiah beheld the glory of God, he cried out for he was “a man of unclean lips dwelling among unclean people” (Isaiah 6:1-7). The apostle had a similar experience with Jesus on the shores of Galilee.
In Luke 5, Peter allowed Jesus to preach from his boat to a large multitude on the shore. I imagine the powerful words of truth echoing off the water to the eager multitude and Peter listening attentively in the boat, perhaps mending his nets after the long night of fishing. Jesus asked Peter to go fishing again. Peter and the other fishermen had an unsuccessful night having caught no fish and his words suggested that fishing now would produce no better result. Encouraged by Jesus, Peter lowered the nets and caught so many fish that James and John were called to bring back the bounty. Peter returns to the shore amazed but troubled.
Peter saw Jesus as he really was
Peter heard the words of Jesus. The preaching of Jesus caused guards sent to arrest him to return empty handed marveling that no one spoke like Jesus, John 7:46. Jesus amazed the people by speaking with authority, Matthew 7:28-29. The preaching of Jesus pricks the heart and leads hearers to examine themselves. The reputation of Jesus’ power had spread throughout the region and Peter witnessed that power in his own boat. Peter did not see a great teacher; he saw the Son of God.
Peter saw himself as he really was
Jesus’ power and holy teaching cut Peter to the heart. Peter begged Jesus to depart from his sinful presence. Peter was not holy like Jesus and considered himself unworthy to be in the presence of such righteousness. Like lepers forced to warn others to avoid their defiled diseased bodies, Peter warned Jesus to depart from his spiritually wretched body.
Jesus saw Peter as he really was
Jesus didn’t contradict Peter’s self-condemnation. Jesus knew the hearts of men and knew Peter’s sinfulness. Though Peter begged Jesus to depart from him, Jesus invited Peter to follow him as a disciple. Far from being repulsed by Peter, Jesus wanted Peter to remain in his presence.
Jesus saw Peter as he could be
Jesus looked beyond the boats, the fish and the sea to a future Peter casting the net of the gospel into the mass of humanity to catch the souls of men. Peter the sinner would be transformed into a godly servant doing great work in the Lord’s kingdom. Peter’s heart was pricked by the presence of Jesus and he would prick the hearts of others by preaching the gospel of Jesus, Acts 2:36-38. Jesus saw the man Peter would be before Peter would see it in himself.
What Jesus sees in us
When we experience the presence of Jesus through his word, we are exposed for who we really are. If we do not resist him, his word will peel away the illusions we have about ourselves and expose our sinfulness in the brightness of his light. Do not fear this intimate dissection of the inward person (Hebrews 4:12-13) but understand that facing the sinful self is necessary to heal the cancer of sin within.
Instead of driving us from his presence, Jesus calls us to follow him. When we obey his gospel, the filth of rebellion and disease of sin is cleansed with his holy sacrificial blood and we are transformed to reflect his glory in our lives, 2 Corinthians 3:17-18. We reflect his light into the dark world (Matthew 5:14-16). Our sinful self becomes part of our past and we are declared righteous though we do not deserve such a title, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
Jesus can use us, as he did Peter, to accomplish great things in the kingdom. We can rescue others from the darkness and slavery of sin by sharing the gospel. We can build up fellow Christians and rescue those who stray from him, James 5:19-20. We can see in others what they do not see in themselves and encourage them to follow Jesus.