Posted by: St. Mark Lutheran Church | February 9, 2010

Sermon on Luke 5:1-11

Jesus Guarantees the Results

In the Name of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God,  he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Today’s text leaves us shaking our heads again saying, “Peter, Peter…how could you be so dense?”  Jesus says, “Go out into deep water, let down the nets for a catch.”  Jesus doesn’t say, “See if you can catch anything.  I’ve got a good feeling about this spot.”  He says, “You are going to catch something out there.”  And Peter says, “Well, I’ll do it, because you say so, but, um, Jesus, no offense or anything, we’re professional fishermen, we’ve been at work all night, and we haven’t caught anything.”  And then Peter is shocked, shocked to discover that his nets are so full that they start to break and nearly capsize the boats.

And we say, “How?”  It was Peter’s brother, and co-worker, Andrew, who brought Peter to Jesus, saying, We’ve found the Messiah. For a short time after that, Peter, along with Andrew, James, John, Philip, and Nathanael, followed Jesus around.  They weren’t yet full time apostles; that came later.  But in this time with Jesus, they saw something amazing.  Peter was at Cana when Jesus told some house servants to fill stone jars with water, water that became wine.  And between that wedding reception and this stunning catch of fish, Jesus performs other miracles.  We don’t know how many Peter saw, because we don’t know when he returned to fishing.  But Luke says this. Jesus…went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them. When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Christ.

Peter has seen and heard incredible things from Jesus.  So much so, in fact, that it would be fair to say that the words of Jesus are guarantees and Peter knows that.  Jesus guarantees results.  If Jesus speaks, it’s as good as done.  Yet Peter had a hard time grasping that.  By the end of this fishing trip, Peter understands why:  I’m a sinful man. On this day, and every other, Peter missed the mark.  Peter failed.  He could not grasp this truth about Jesus perfectly.  So much was this the case, that Peter says to Jesus, Go away from me! Peter can’t abide to be near Jesus, because His perfection casts Peter’s imperfection in such a brutal light.

And it does the same for us.  Too often we, like Peter are obtuse, sometimes purposely so.  We’ve seen Jesus act so powerfully in the Scriptures – preaching, teaching, healing, exorcising, raising.  We’ve seen Him act so powerfully in our lives.  We’ve seen sicknesses come and go.  We’ve seen hard times rise up in our lives and recede.  We’ve seen miraculous births.  We’ve seen peaceful deaths.  We’ve seen the most incredible of all – the cross on which the Lord of glory offered Himself, allowing Himself to be forsaken so that we would not be.  We’ve seen the tomb in which He lay, abandoned, because death could not hold Him.  We’ve seen that.  We’ve heard that.  We know that.  Like Peter.  Yet, still we’re shocked when it happens again, as if we’ve forgotten this amazing power and grace that Jesus holds.  Or, we live in doubt of it all.  When Jesus makes His guarantees, when He says in His own way in our lives, “Put out into deep water for a catch,” we’re skeptical.  We’re tempted to cover our bases.  We aren’t quite convinced.  He might come through, but just in case, I’d better get a safety net ready – as if Jesus is that employee who sometimes pulls a no-call, no-show.

But that’s not Jesus.  His Baptism proved it.  Turning water into wine proved it.  His sermon at Nazareth and His escape from the mob proved it.  Finally, His resurrection from the dead proved it.  As Paul writes, He was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead. Jesus doesn’t write checks He can’t cash.  If you think that, even for a second, you’ve condemned yourself.  You’ve turned Jesus into something He is not.  Your Jesus then is no different from the Jesus of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or Atheism.  You are, like Peter, a sinful man.  You don’t deserve to stand in the presence of the Lord.  And if that’s what you think about Him, He won’t allow it.  He will send you away from His presence.

And you wonder, “Why didn’t He do what Peter asked?”  Peter had correctly analyzed the situation.  He wasn’t better than those murderous Nazarenes.  And yet Jesus didn’t leave.  In fact, He did the opposite; He immediately called Peter into full-time public ministry. Don’t be afraid.  From now on you will catch men. What joy it is to know that the God in whose presence we can not stand brings Himself into our presence.  He confronts us with what we need to be confronted with – our own doubts and fears, our unbelief.  Jesus didn’t do what He did to shame Peter, to make Peter feel bad, or to cast Peter into hell.  Paul writes about this in 2 Corinthians:  Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while – yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.

Paul talks about godly sorrow. He didn’t just want the Corinthians to feel bad.  Neither did Jesus with Peter.  Neither do I, when I lay before you the accusations of God’s law that condemn you to hell.  Rather, Paul and I have in our hearts to do what Jesus did – to lead people to repentance.  This gift from God isn’t just saying, “Man, I’m sorry about what I did.”  No, it’s seeing the wrongheadedness of our disobedience – in this case doubt about who Jesus really is and what power His guarantees and promises have – and turning to Jesus in faith as the one who can and does forgive such disobedience, such failure, such missing the mark.

And so Jesus says, Don’t be afraid. “I’m not leaving.  I’m not letting this boat sink, Peter.  I’m going to make you even more mine.”  And so says Jesus to us.  We, who see how unclean and sinful we are, how undeserving we are to be in the presence of Christ, to hear His Words, to receive His washing of rebirth, to partake of His body and blood, are comforted and assured by these same words.  He tells us, Don’t be afraid. I’m here, not to kill you, but to give you life.  Not to drown you, but to wash you clean.  Not to choke you, but to give you the best food of all – the forgiveness of sins, life everlasting.

And the results are guaranteed, in every possible way.  This is the comfort of the Creed we confess every week and are taught in catechism, a creed that tells us about God our Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  Our God.  Jesus said, Put out your nets for a catch. And they caught.  Likewise, God the Father says, “I preserve you by richly and daily providing everything you need for body and life, not because you’ve earned it, but because I am your good and merciful Father in heaven.”  We pray, Give us today our daily bread, and He does.  Jesus, God’s Son, taught the crowds the Word, Jesus told Peter, Don’t be afraid, and fear was erased.  Because this is Jesus talking, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.  All so that I should be His own, and live with Him eternally, just as He has risen from the dead.  Jesus says, You will catch men, and we do, guaranteed.  The Word that caused crowds to crowd around Jesus, the Word that led them to see Jesus as the one teaching with actual authority, unlike all their other teachers, is the same Word we have, the Word we use, the Word that does it’s very own work, bringing faith to those who hear, because we’ve heard this guarantee, No one can say “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. It’s comforting to know that just as much as it is God the Father who provides and God the Son who saves, it is God the Holy Spirit who calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies.  He does the forgiving.  He does the raising from the dead, here and in eternity.

You’ve got to imagine that this miracle stuck in the minds of the disciples on many hard days, days when there was no food, no money, no success in Gospel preaching, days when they sat in prison because “no one” wanted to hear their message, days when everything seemed in vain.  Let this miracle stick in your mind too.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a called public servant of Christ like the apostles, or a part of that crowd following Jesus.  It doesn’t matter whether you work for the Church or not.  The comfort we have is the Jesus revealed to us today.  Jesus makes promises.  Jesus keeps promises.  Jesus guarantees results.  It’s this guarantee that makes us eager to serve to the glory of God, eager to serve our Savior Jesus, eager to serve God with our lives in all things, eager to follow Him even to death.  Because we know, just as Peter learned on the Sea of Galilee today, that our labor in the Lord, wherever and however we are laboring, is not in vain, because our Father has given us the victory over sin, death, and devil, given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!  Amen.

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