Sunday, July 12, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009 5th Sunday after Trinity Luke 5:1-11
And it happened in that the crowd was pressing toward Him also to hear the word of God, and He was standing along the lake of Gennesaret, and He saw two boats standing along the lake; and the fishermen, having departed from them, kept washing the nets. And having gone into one of the boats which was Simon's, He asked him to set out a little from the land; and having sat down, from the boat He kept teaching the crowds. And as He stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Set out into the deep and lower your nets into a catch." And answering, Simon said, "Master, through the whole night we worked, taking in not one thing; but upon Your spoken word I will lower the nets." And having done this they caught a great many fish, and their nets were breaking. And they called to their partners in the other boat coming to help them; and they came and filed both the boats up to sinking them. And seeing, Simon Peter fell to Jesus' knees saying, "Go from me, because a man of sin I am, Lord." For amazement came upon him and all those with him at the catch of fish which they took; and likewise also James and John, sons of Zebedee who were partners to Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Stop fearing; from now you will be catching alive, men!" And having brought down the boats upon the land, having left all, they followed Him.
Changing jobs can be difficult. As you gain experience in one occupation, you become rather comfortable with all the tasks it requires. But if your job is terminated, or something opens up in another field that you just cannot pass up, you find yourself leaving everything behind from your old work, and heading off to a new venture. It may be scary. It will have its share of challenges to be sure. No doubt it will take a lot of faith in God to help you get through the rough patches.
That's just what happened to Peter and some other disciples of Jesus. Peter, Andrew, James and John had already been called to follow Jesus, but not yet full-time. They were still fishermen, by trade. But even experienced anglers like these would have an off night. The didn't catch a single fish. Along comes a carpenter who suggests they try fishing in all the wrong ways, in deep water at mid-day. If any ordinary carpenter recommended this, he'd be laughed at. But Jesus was no ordinary carpenter!
Peter knew Jesus was special, that God's power was with Him even to do miracles. But he hadn't yet confessed Jesus as the Christ and Son of the living God, Who had the words of eternal life. Yet Peter allows Jesus to use his otherwise useless fishing boat for some preaching. Then Jesus makes His teaching personal for Peter and the disciples. He gives them a law/gospel sermon in a sentence–lower your nets for a catch. He tells them what He expects them to do, and adds a promise of providence.
This carpenter from Nazareth had proved Himself a better fisherman than these professionals, providing an over-abundance of fish! Isn't that just like God, to require so little from us, yet to give so generously. All He asks of you today is to come and be in His presence, and He does all the rest. He proclaims His promises to you from the pulpit. He drowns sinful you, resurrecting you in Holy Baptism to new life. He feeds you with His Own body and blood in His Supper for your forgiveness and salvation.
And we learn much from Peter's humble attitude here, openly confessing that he is but a sinful man before His Holy Lord and God. Peter knew he was unworthy to be in God's presence, and feared that he could not remain with Jesus. But Jesus tells him to quit being afraid, for Jesus would provide the worthiness Peter lacked, through forgiveness and His gift of Holy righteousness. Like Peter, you too are forgiven, your sins nailed to Jesus at the cross, and His righteousness given to you as a free gift.
That's when now-made-worthy Peter is given his new marching orders. He no longer will be catching fish which die soon after they are brought out of the water. He now will be bringing up from the waters of baptism, Christ's disciples–those who are caught alive, to keep on living unto life everlasting! At this new job description, these first disciples do the unexpected. They leave everything behind to follow Jesus in this task of rescuing souls, forgiving sinners, and proclaiming Jesus as Savior of all.
Now, God has not called you to be evangelists, or apostles, or even preachers as He did with the 12. But He has called you to a special vocation of church member. In that he requires of you very little, that you allow His Spirit to gather you to where Jesus is, following His word as it is taught & proclaimed, receiving His gifts as they cleanse you from sin & nourish your soul. He calls you to be caught up alive in Christ, in the overwhelming abundance of His love for you, forevermore.