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|BETHLEHEM LUTHERAN CHURCH: | Mason City, Iowa USA | Pastor Mark Lavrenz|
Feb 10, 2019 SERMON TEXT
Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ! AMEN
The text for our meditation today is the Gospel Lesson for this Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Luke 5:1-11. There we read these words:
On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets." And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men." And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
We begin in the name of Jesus, AMEN
Dear Christian friends, After doing careful research (Luke 1:1-4), St. Luke deliberately structured his Gospel so that you would think Simon Peter had seen plenty of our Lords miracles before today.
Todays Gospel is from Luke chapter 5, but last weeks Gospel from Luke chapter 4 tells about how Jesus visited Simon Peters house after church one afternoon. In that earlier Gospel from last week, Simon Peter appears to have joined with others in appealing to Jesus on behalf of his mother-in-law, who was sick with a high fever (Luke 4:38).
Not only did Jesus immediately heal this woman in everyones presence, but He also went on to heal "any who were sick with various diseases," laying "His hands on every one of them" (Luke 4:40).
St. Luke gives us no reason to doubt that Simon Peter stood right there the entire time, watching Jesus repeatedly heal the sick and cast out demons. St. Luke also makes no mention of how Simon Peter reacted and felt about our Lords miracles until todays Gospel, when Jesus turned and performed the miracle for Simon.
And when He had finished speaking, [Jesus] said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at Your word I will let down the nets." And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.
This miracle does not seem like it should be a big deal, especially for someone like Simon, who had already witnessed many miracles from Jesus. But what did Simon think? "But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord."
Some people would dismiss Simons amazement and fear in todays Gospel by saying that todays Gospel actually took place before last weeks Gospel, when Simon saw all those others receiving miracles from Jesus, and that St. Luke simply took the historical sequence of events out of order.
But that would make for a pretty short sermon, and where is the fun in that? Besides, do you really want to think of St. Luke as a confused writer who cannot iron out his facts and keep them straight? If indeed St. Luke took the history of these events out of sequence, might you not think that he did so for a reason?
I think it will be far more beneficial for you if you take St. Luke at face value, accept his sequencing of these events, and understand his message: Even after Simon watched his Lord Jesus treat many other with great care and regard, the man was still floored to think that Jesus would likewise do great things also for him. "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord."
God wants you to know personally right here that His miracles and forgiving grace are not only for other people. God wants you to know that His miracles and His forgiving grace are also individually and personally for you.
In this Gospel Jesus is not the God who concerns Himself with acting on behalf of other people in Simons life. That was last weeks Gospel. In todays Gospel, Jesus is..... the God who is concerned with Simon, the God who focused His attention upon Simon, the God who acted for Simon.
If this individual attention upon Simon in todays Gospel is not a connection to your Baptism, I am not sure what is. Jesus wants you to know in todays Gospel that it does not matter a whole lot what you think of yourself. It also does not matter whether you think you are worthy of Gods presence and work in your life.
Simon said to Jesus, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord," but Jesus was not going anywhere. Jesus is the God who came personally to Simon in this Gospel, just as He is the God who came personally to you in Baptism. Jesus is the God who acted individually for Simon in this Gospelwho did startling things for Simon that Simon did not seriously think would happenjust as Jesus is the God who acts individually for you.
Simons incredulity at His Lords individually expressed love personally for him is not the only thing that is happening here. There are many other ways for you to draw great blessings from todays Gospel:
1. By filling Simons nets, Jesus shows Himself to be the God who cares and provides for the everyday needs of your lives, and not merely during those extreme times of illness or disease. If you only had last weeks Gospel before you, you might get the impression that Jesus focuses primarily on your occasional needs, such as when you fall ill. But St. Luke has also given you this weeks Gospel, where Jesus fills Peters nets to overflowing.
St. Luke is showing you that Jesus conscientiously provides you with every mouthful of your daily bread; that Jesus remains present with you and caring for you in every moment, and not merely in times of illness.
2. By filling the nets of this expert fisherman, Jesus shows Himself to be the true giver of all things. In other words, none of you needs to rely upon your expertise or your skill for daily bread. You can each go off to your daily labors, whistling while you work, trusting exclusively in Jesus to provide you with whatever you need no matter what might happen in the course of your day. "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at Your Word I will let down the nets."
3. Luther repeatedly used this Gospel as a way of showing people that Jesus will faithfully take care of all your needs, both physical and spiritual.
The same Lord who gave Simon a catch of fish is also the Lord who likewise said to Simon, "Do not be afraid!" And in the same way, the God who provides so faithfully for your needs of body shall likewise never fail to provide for your needs of soul. As He said to Simon, Jesus also proclaims His "Do not be afraid" to you when He tells you that He has forgiven all your sins.
4. This Gospel is also very good for showing you that Jesus is the God who comes face-to-face with you, totally unbothered by your sin. When Simon saw the catch, "He fell down at Jesus knees." Simon could think of only one thing: Here I am in the presence of God. Simon might even have had todays Old Testament flash across his mind, where Isaiah wails, "Woe is me! I am lost for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" (Isaiah 6:5).
In todays Gospel, Simon sees no less of God, and Simon likewise despairs: "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." Yet Jesus did not go away, not from Simon and He wont go away from you. Jesus is not bothered by your sin. To the contrary, Jesus came to cover you sin and hide it away so that you will no longer be afraid of your God and His faithful presence in your life.
Clearly, there are all kinds of good things for you in this magnificent Gospel. Chief among these things, however, is the one point that St. Luke has especially maneuvered himself and his writing to impress upon you.
Simon had already seen plenty of miracles before todays Gospel, but always as a witness and bystander and not as a direct recipient. Today Jesus showed Himself to be the God who came to earth for Simon also, not merely for others.
St. Luke, and the living God who guided his writingwants you to take the same message home with you. Yes, Jesus came for many. Jesus came for all these people here. Jesus came for all those people out there. But, my friend, Jesus also came for you.
Christ Is Risen
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