Heaven Shining Down By the Sea of Gennesaret
Luke 5:1-11 / I Corinthians 14:12b-20 / Isaiah 6:1-8
Sixth in a Series of Nine – Heaven Shining Down
Feb. 9 and 10, 2019
Dear Friends in Christ,
We are focusing on the specific locations of our texts in these days, to say this: that God does not choose places at random but deliberately. God does not ignore the past of his people but uses every bit, every scrap of everything that we are to demonstrate his grace, his mercy, and his peace. Two maps we have in our bulletin today focused on locations in Jesus’ day with significant history and particular opportunity. Locations where an epic battle raged between the Light of this world and the forces of forces of darkness, a battle that continues to rage to this very day.
In the past weeks, we have seen
Luke 5 through 13 summarizes Jesus’ ministry mainly in Galilee, and in today’s text we find Jesus using the metaphor of fishing to teach about mission and ministry. In this text, the boats will symbolize the church, the sea is the world, fish=people, and the nets will represent the teaching and preaching and miracles of Jesus.
Going fishing is the most (expensive) way there is to catch a free meal. That’s a little Facebook post that caught my eyes in recent days. I did a little research and found that in 2011 33.1 million Americans age 16 and over went fishing, they fished on average 17 days, they spent 41.8 billion dollars, (and I hope I’m not getting any men in trouble here today), which is an average of $1,261 a year spent by each fisherman or fisherwoman.
No doubt many of you have heard a lover of fishing say something like this – “it’s better to be fishing and thinking about God than to be in church thinking about fishing.” I don’t know about that, but I do know that the first disciples were fisherman, and that’s precisely who Jesus chose to hang around, they are the ones Jesus decided to call into ministry. I don’t know exactly why Jesus didn’t choose the highly educated or the independently wealthy folks, but we do know that he did choose the men that society considered unimpressive, not particularly successful, and uneducated.
In last week’s sermon, Pastor Muther’s third and final point was that going from Nazareth where he was rejected to Capernaum where there were all kinds of Gentiles mixed in with the Jews, Jesus was moving from the earthly to the heavenly. He pointed out that the heavenly wasn’t so much a place as it was and is the presence of God.
Moving from the earthly to the heavenly. Specifically we want to see how Jesus took Peter in our text from Point A to Point B. He took Peter where he was at, and by teaching and perfoming a miracle, Jesus moved him to where he wanted him to be. Three movements in the heart and mind of Peter, we would note.
First, Jesus took Peter From wanting to be left alone to (leaving everything). When Jesus first told Simon Peter to throw his nets back out into the deep, he was asking Peter to do something that defied logic. For starters, their nets were designed for night fishing, and secondly, the fish just weren’t biting! Peter wonders out loud why he should go back out fishing, but then replied, “but at your word I will lower my nets. He reminds us of the virgin Mary who wondered out loud how she could be pregnant, but then responded, “Behold I am the servant of the Lord, Be it to me according to your word.”
When Peter saw the miracle unfolding he just wanted to be left alone. The catch was so great not just one but two boats were sinking. The miracle was so amazing Peter knows he is unworthy to be in the presence of Jesus. The awesomeness of the one true God had grabbed ahold of Peter, and he just wanted Jesus to leave. He reminds of us of Abraham who was bold enough to pray a third and a fourth and a fifth time for Sodom and Gomorrah to be spared, even though he was but dust and ashes. Peter reminds us of Job, who dared spout off to God and then backed down with these words of confession, “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” Or Isaiah in today’s first lesson who is in the presence of the Triune God and cries out, “Woe is me. I am ruined, for I am a man of unclean lips in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”
Point A is Peter just wanting to be left alone as a poor and a miserable sinner, Point B is in the final statement of our Gospel lesson when he and his brother Andrew and fishing buddies John and James leave every one of their possessions, they leave their business, they leave their families, and they follow Jesus to places unknown.
For reflection: In what ways have I fallen into that ditch where I just want to be left alone, that ditch where I just want to mind my own business, that ditch where I’m not really against those pastors and people over at the church making disciples of all nations, but I’m not really wanting to be involved?
Secondly Jesus moved Peter From timidity to (courage) When Jesus invited Peter not to be afraid, he was absolving his sins. The great miracle of the abundant catch of fish pointed to a greater miracle – namely the forgiveness of sins. So also in the case of Isaiah, as soon as he cried out in unworthiness, the seraphim flew to him, touched his mouth with a burning coal and said, “your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
Keep in mind Jesus moving Peter from being afraid to being on fire for the kingdom wasn’t a one time deal. So also on this very same lake, recall another time when Jesus was sleeping, a terrific windstorm threatens to drown them all, the disciples wonder out loud if their Master doesn’t care that they are dying, Jesus rebukes the wind, he quiets the waves and wonders out loud where is their faith/wonders out loud why they have fallen back into being fearful little men. So also on this same lake, you will remember Jesus walking on the water, then Peter getting out of the boat with a strong faith walking on the water, then Peter wavering, Peter sinking, Peter crying out, Jesus reaching out and wondering out loud why he was of little faith, why he was doubting.
Jesus moving Peter from Point A which was being afraid to Point B which is on his way to becoming a faithful preacher of God’s Word to the early church.
For reflection: In what ways have I fallen back into that mood where I freak out in the storms of life instead of staying calm? In what ways have I retreated to my comfort zone where I stay quiet instead of speaking God’s truths with kindness and patience? In what ways have I been gripped with a spirit of timidity instead of courage?
Third, Jesus moved Peter From catching fish to catching (people) Jesus doesn’t just forgive Peter’s sinfulness in this text, he commissions him to take that forgiveness to the villages by the Lake of Gennesaret and beyond. He doesn’t just invite Peter into the kingdom, he calls him to be a builder of that kingdom. He doesn’t just shine into Peter’s heart with grace and with mercy, he says perhaps with a twinkle in his eye, we’re going fishing full time. From this day forward, you and your buddies are going to be helping me catch people alive!
In these next three years, Jesus would be teaching, he would be catechizing them with all kinds of teaching and with all kinds of preaching and with more miracles than they could even remember. By the time the next three years were finished, they would be fully equipped, trained, and ready to turn the world upside down. Just as fish would go from swimming loose in the lake to being caught and in the boat with Jesus, so also with thousands and eventually millions of lost and wandering sinners be brought into the kingdom through baptism, catechesis, and the Lord’s Supper. Peter’s commission to catch people alive was to go out and do what Jesus had just done to him, that is to preach the kingdom and forgive sins. Jesus would be moving on, the church would be going with him, and these ordinary fisherman would have brand new hearts, brand new desires, and a brand new vocation.
For reflection: In what ways have I been seeking after all these other things instead of the kingdom of God and his righteousness? Have I been hearing God wondering out loud, “whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Where are the places in my little corner of the kingdom where this week I might step forward and say out loud, “Here I am, send me!”
To fish or not to fish? The kingdom of God is like a father who is pretty regularly too busy to take his son fishing. Almost always there was a lawn to mow, a garage to clean, an errand to run, or a nap to enjoy. One day, he had the time. He took the time to take his 7 year old son fishing. For an entire afternoon and into the evening, the father was as patient as he could be, he taught his son how to bait and cast, he taught him how to reel and how to clean. That night as mom tucked him into bed and asked him how was his day, the answer was swift, the answer was simple. It was the best day ever. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Worship Sermons & Letters
Pastor Paul Muther