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Luther's Church Postil for Trinity 5 – Luke 5:1-11

by pastorjuhl ~ June 18th, 2008

[Peter’s miraculous catch of fish clearly shows] God will forsake no one, each must have what he needs, if he trusts in God alone; as Ps. 37:25 says: “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”  There is no lack of provisions, only a lack of faith; before that should take place the angels would come and minister unto us.  Therefore the fact that the people suffer now such need, is caused only by unbelief. (Volume 2, Part 2, p. 135)

Therefore you must learn this part well, that you are to work and hope, even if God should delay a little and let you toil in your sweat, so that you imagine your labor is now lost.  Then you must be wise and learn to know your God and to trust in him.  Then he arrives and gives you more than you need, as he does here to Peter.  Therefore if God has already delayed, only remember in the example of Peter there was also a little delay and yet it richly came.  Thus it strikes in the time of his good pleasure; therefore do not despair, but hope and then thy works will be golden and pleasing to him; and then hope waits patiently, when God withdraws from us and does not do at once what we earnestly wish.  Therefore he must make an appendix and hang on it a costly stone that thy works may become important.  This precious stone is faith; but the works of unbelievers are stubble, for they are not built upon faith. (2:2:136-137)

It is proper that we know ourselves, and the more thoroughly we do this the better; but you must not reject grace because of your sins.  For if you find that your conscience struggles and would drive you to despair, then you are most comfortable and fortunate; then you will find the consolation in your conscience, and say like Micah, 7:18-19: “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and casts their sins into the sea and drowns them?” All gods that do not take away sin are idols.  Therefore Micah well says that there is no God like our God; for other gods wish to discover righteousness, but our God brings it; God the Lord brings it and does not discover it.  Therefore you must not despair, although your conscience struggles and feels its sins; for the more disgraced you are, the quicker God imparts grace. (2:2:138)

Therefore the more you feel that you are a sinful man and the more you wish to flee from God, the more you should press forward to him; mark that well.  For as St. Peter does here, so do all consciences, that are terrified before their sins, they wish to flee from God and seek another idol.  Then do not desist, but approach God with fresh confidence and hold to him.  On the other hand, if we flee from him and seek work righteousness and obtain help from another God, and afterwards come to the true God; then we will find him just like the foolish virgins, to whom, while they went to buy oil, the door was closed.  Matthew 25:10. (2:2:139)

Manifold tribulations, miseries and distress are the daily experience of all Christendom.  If Christ is to help, there must be trials, trouble and toil, and it must come to this, that we despair of all human counsel, comfort and ability.  Then he comes with his help, and shows that he still has the means of comfort, counsel, protection and deliverance, and that he is able to bestow all this when everything else has failed us, and when all that we have done or suffered, and still may be able to do, is nothing and in vain; yea, that in such need and weakness he gives and helps in richer measure than could be done by all human power, skill and aid. (2:2:143-144)

[Jesus] teaches a twofold lesson, that he will not give us anything unless we work for it, and that the things we obtain do not come from our work, but only from God’s help and blessing.  You are to work, but you are not to depend upon that work, as if that which resulted therefrom were of your own accomplishment.  In short, our work produces and bestows nothing.  Yet it is necessary as a means through which we may receive what God gives.  The disciples must use their hands to let down the nets and to draw them in, if they wish to secure anything, and must be willing to do so.  Yet they are obliged to acknowledge that their labor did not bring about the result, otherwise they would have succeeded, in the first place, without Christ.  (2:2:151)

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