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Trinity 5 Sermon – Luke 5:1-11

by pastorjuhl ~ June 18th, 2008

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

It was a rough night’s fishing. All that was left to do was to wash the nets and mosey off to bed. The Stranger from Nazareth jumped into Simon’s boat and asked him to push out a little ways from the water. A crowd was pressing around the Stranger. He had to get away from them in order to talk to them.

Pretty soon Jesus is ready to go fishing. In the middle of the day. In deep water. Conventional wisdom says the best time to fish is at night and close to the shore, where the schools of fish swarm to receive fresh oxygenated water flowing into the lake. It’s broad daylight and Jesus wants to go fishing in deep water. Looks like it’ll be another effort in futility. But because Jesus said so, Simon gives the order to cast the net.

What if Jesus told Simon to caddy His golf bag for a 2:00 A.M. tee time at Lake of Gennesaret Country Club? Golfing in the dark is no fun, especially when you can’t see the ball. But because Jesus said so, Simon will caddy for Jesus.

Children can’t stand it when their parents say “Because I said so”. It’s a non-response response; the ultimate answer that says everything while meaning nothing. You don’t want to do something because you don’t want to do it. What other reason do you need?

Who is the fool? Simon thinks it is Jesus. The fool ends up being Simon. Just when Simon thinks another cast of the net will bring back nothing, he is surprised by a catch so large that he must beckon James and John to bring their boat. The fish fill both boats.

Who is the fool? We think it is Jesus. The fool ends up being you and me. Just when we think Jesus isn’t interceding for us as He promises, we are surprised once again by all that our heavenly Father provides for us. Jesus promises us it’s going to be that way. He said so last week. Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom.

Simon’s problem, our problem, is unbelief. “Because you said so” is not a cry of sure and certain confidence. It’s natural for us to think that we’re smarter than our Lord God (BML). Our redemption from sin, death, and the devil is too good to be true. But I’ll believe it’s true in order not to make waves with God. That’s not really faith. That’s agreeing to something so an argument won’t break out. It’s being nice.

Simon is thinking the same thing when there are so many fish that two boats can barely hold them all. His smart-aleck response to Jesus’ request is enough to knock him to his knees in repentance. How long has it been since you and I have been knocked to our knees when God blesses us so richly? We get too comfortable in our affluence and begin to expect God to bless us. We might think that we don’t deserve it, but when an abundance of blessings come our way we are usually quick to take it and run. There will be plenty of time for thanking God later.

Now is the time to make like Simon, drop to our knees, and repent of our lack of fear, love, and trust in God above all things. It is for such faint-heartedness, fear, and hesitation that Christ has rich comfort for Simon, for you, and for me in Luke chapter five. Don’t be afraid, Jesus says, just My Word and come to Me confidently and joyfully (BML).

Today’s Collect says that God has prepared for those who love [Him] good things that surpass all understanding. Simon was a sinner just like you and me. Yet Jesus has an amazing journey prepared for him and for James and John too. Jesus tells them from now on you will catch men. That was enough for them. They drop their fishing nets and pick up another net: the Gospel. What they saw with their eyes they would proclaim with their mouths. Jesus provided for them in ways they could not imagine even when they barely trusted Him. If He cares for them in spite of their fear and doubt, He cares for you, especially when you know you don’t deserve it.

The Lord cared for Elijah in his moment of need. No matter what Elijah said or did, people refused to believe that the Lord God is the one true God. Even after the Lord passed by him on the mountain, Elijah still didn’t know whether or not all his preaching and teaching was worth it. He thought he was the only one left who hadn’t bowed the knee to Baal. The Lord promised him 7,000 in Israel who hadn’t bowed the knee to Baal. The Lord also promised him that the ministry of the Promise would go forward with Elisha. Elijah soon would be taken up to heaven. Elisha will pick up the mantle and bear the burden of the Lord.

The Lord cares for you in your moments of need. Though God has every right to depart from you because you are sinful, He doesn’t. He gives you the gift of His only-begotten Son Jesus. Jesus bears your burdens, griefs, and sorrows to the cross. He dies for them. His blood covers them. He rises from the dead to destroy death. He puts men into His holy office of preaching to tell this Good News everywhere.

Peter’s miraculous catch of fish shows God forsakes no one. We will have what we need as long as we trust in God alone. Psalm 37 says I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread. Those of riper years among us can confirm the Psalmist is not a liar. When we cling to Jesus for all that we need, both here and in eternity, all will go well with us. After all, He gives us everything we need even when we don’t…or won’t…ask for it.

Consider what He has given us. He has brought us out of darkness into His marvelous light by water and Word in Holy Baptism. He puts His true Body and true Blood in our mouths in His Supper. He puts His Word of reconciliation in our ears when He forgives our sins. He proclaims week after week that though we are sinners, He forgives us, loves us, and is preparing a place for us with Him in heaven forever. Though we may not be rich in this life, we will most certainly be rich in the life of the world to come.

Catching men in the net of the Gospel doesn’t make sense. Neither does fishing in broad daylight in deep water. But our Lord Christ confounds what we think is reasonable with His Holy Word. He pours His love into us through Word and Sacraments so we may love Him and, at last, obtain His promises. All these promises are ours because Jesus says so.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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