Fishers of Men
July 1, 2018
Christ Catches Peter to Catch People
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
When Jesus tells Peter to cast out his nets into the water, this would be like telling him to throw out an empty hook into the water. The fish in the Sea of Galilee just would not be in that place at that time of day. Peter and his brothers knew how to fish; they made their living at it.
But Peter's answer to Jesus is about as good as it gets this side of heaven:
LUKE 5:5 “Master, we worked hard all through the night and caught nothing. But at your word I will let down the nets.” ENGLISH HERITAGE VERSION 2017
Every Christian is of two minds when it comes to the Word of God. Part of us doesn't believe God and doesn't expect good things from Him. This is why we sin—we are trying to make our own way and satisfy our own desires. We think the things God has forbidden aren't that bad and the things God has commanded aren't that good. So we ignore His Word, His promises, His threats, and go our own way.
And yet, at the same time, as baptized believers in Christ, we do trust His Word and ignore our own opinions. By faith we listen to Him and tell our flesh to be quiet. The Holy Spirit suppresses our disbelief and causes us to confess against ourselves.
This is what we do when we stand up together and confess the Nicene Creed. At least part of me doesn't really believe that God is the Creator—I doubt it. I'm worried about it, because maybe it's not right.
But the Holy Spirit causes me to confess against myself with my fellow believers, “We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty… We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God… We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life.” God suppresses our old sinful nature, and using our tongue we agree with God and expect good things from Him.
All night long Peter and his brothers had worked for their catch, and then after a fruitless night, Jesus gives them what they no doubt had prayed for all their lives: an easy and abounding catch of fish.
But it was too much of a good thing. The nets are breaking, the boats are groaning, and in this miracle, these fishermen are made aware of their own mortality. They aren't such good fishermen, they aren't such good swimmers, and they aren't even that good at living. Their lives are fragile and in danger. And Peter cannot stand as sinful man in the presence of God. So he cries out, not in faith, but out of fear,
LUKE 5:8 “Go away from me, because I am a sinful man, Lord.” ENGLISH HERITAGE VERSION 2017
This is sinful prayer and a ridiculous request. Faith never asks Jesus to leave. If Jesus goes away, then Peter goes to hell because hell is the place where God is not present in His mercy.
But the Lord persists and denies the prayer. He refuses to leave and this is the Gospel, the good news. The One who is standing in the boat with Peter is not there is destroy him, but to be his friend, his Savior, and will put Peter to work, and make him the man He always meant him to be.
Peter walked away from a pile of fish and boatload of cash, but he lost nothing and gained everything. Now he knows his place in the world and sees it from the perspective of eternity: the Lord Jesus Christ has come to be his Savior.
And as He does for Peter, He does for you. He answers your prayers according to His mercy and for your eternal good. He doesn't leave you, but persists in giving you just what you need. He answers your prayers with Himself.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Thanks be to God!
Pastor Boehringer has been preaching Christ and Him crucified to himself and to his congregation at Gethsemane since 2009.