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Trinity 5 – Luke 5:1-11

by pastorjuhl ~ July 23rd, 2011

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

            Of the entire assembled multitude by the Lake of Gennesaret, who would have thought that one of the fishermen washing nets would be one of the most attentive listeners of Jesus’ teaching? Simon had been up all night fishing and caught nothing. Jesus gets in Simon’s boat and asks him to cast off a ways from the shore. After teaching a while, Jesus says to Simon, launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch. Perhaps not knowing that Jesus is all knowing, Simon is reluctant to follow Christ’s directions. He says, Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing. The next phrase Simon says sets the tone for his future and ours too: nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.

You might look at Simon Peter’s response to Jesus wanting to go fishing in broad daylight as a wise response to a foolish request. Before considering the wisdom of Simon Peter’s response, remember what happened before Jesus tells him to lift anchor and head for deep water. Peter and those gathered at the lake were listening to Jesus teaching. Like those hearing Jesus in His hometown of Nazareth, they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority. A Teacher teaching with authority draws your attention, even if your attention doesn’t want to be drawn there.

God’s Word has authority because of its Author. His Word dwells in you richly. You hear the Word read aloud each weekend. You hear the Word applied to your life. The Word goes in your mouth under bread and wine. When you leave this house, is God’s Word still authoritative? The man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly has his delight…in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. Your delight is in the law of the world, and in that law you meditate day and night. Freedom from sin and death doesn’t cut it in the big, wide, wonderful world. Another law is necessary in order to survive.

King David also writes in the Psalms, the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb…. LORD, I have loved the habitation of Your house, and the place where Your glory dwells…. How lovely is Your tabernacle, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. God desires your thoughts and words toward Him first. Consider also the words of the Preacher in Ecclesiastes, Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. You draw near the house of God to be fed, to listen to His Word condemn you and heal you, to repent of sin and believe again that Jesus is Lord. Nevertheless, there still is room in the pews for those who persistently put other matters before resting in the Word of life.

Peter’s response to Jesus’ request to launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch could be considered the one most used by Christians and non-Christians alike. It’s as if Peter tells Jesus, “Friend, what business is it of yours to tell me how to fish? Why don’t you stick to preaching and I’ll stick to fishing.”

Or perhaps Peter heard the Words of Jesus as He preached to the multitudes and believed that our blessed Lord’s request is a promise that Jesus must keep. The request once again is launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch. Peter’s response is better restated this way: “You’re a fool to go fishing in the broad daylight in deep water. But because You are a preacher whose Words have authority, perhaps there might be something to your request. Because You say so, I’ll let down the nets and we’ll see what happens.”

Simon Peter brushes aside all his knowledge about fishing in order to listen to advice from a Teacher Whose Words have authority. Peter cleaves to the Word with all his heart, in opposition to reason, experience, and everything else (Luther). This kind of confidence, you might call it blind confidence, can only be found in a heart in which there is justifying faith.

What could be called blind confidence is actually justifying faith. The Christian faith believes in one God Who cannot be seen with the naked eye. His only-begotten Son became man through conception of the Holy Spirit and birth through a woman. His Holy Spirit uses earthly means like the spoken and written Word, water, bread, and wine to forgive sins, strengthen faith, and bring joy. All these Holy Things have their foundation in the Holy Word of God that endures forever. This Word has authority. These Holy Things have authority.

How would you like it if your neighbor acted like you didn’t know anything and proceeded to show you how to do the things you know how to do? God is greatly honored when you submit to His Word just as Peter did. Though reason constantly endeavors to mislead you and make you think God is playing fast and loose with His Word in dealing with your sin and salvation, you should not follow your fallen reason. Follow instead the Word of God. Whether or not you have reason, you have God’s Word. His Word cannot lie. His Word declares you righteous before God’s sight. Christ’s righteousness covers you.

What He gives you in His forgiveness and righteousness is greater than any catch of fish. After you catch, clean, and eat fish, you will still be hungry in the future. You will need to catch more fish. Your next catch of fish may not be as good as the most recent catch. There is no guarantee you will even catch anything worth keeping, let alone even have another bite. Jesus’ Gifts for you never fail. They will be here, in His house, every time two or three are gathered in His Name. Jesus will be present to give you something better than bluegill or bass. He gives you the certain hope of eternal life in His joyful presence both now and in eternity.

When Peter’s feet next touched solid ground, he forsook all and followed Him. Jesus called Peter and his fishing friends to follow Him in order to catch men alive. Imagine it! Peter left behind a lucrative vocation in order to walk with his Master. Instead of job security, Peter had much troubles and trials. He denied His Lord. He fled Jesus in the hour our blessed Lord needed Him. Not all Christians are given to follow Peter’s example in giving up an earthly vocation to walk with Jesus. Nevertheless, you are a fisher of men. You cast your net among your circle of friends, giving witness to the Savior Who defies reason and, working through the Holy Spirit Who points you to His Word, builds your hope on nothing less than His blood and righteousness. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. Believe it for Jesus’ sake.

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

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