“When they came to shore they left everything…” Peter, James, and John answer our Lord’s call to be “fishers of men.” A follower of Jesus hears His Word preached within His Church, lives Christ’s Word in their daily vocation trusting His Word to accomplish what He promises. By God the Holy Spirit’s gracious work we cling to Jesus and speak His life giving Word to our fellow sinners. Christ gave up all for us freeing us to pour our life out in service to our neighbor.
The Fifth Sunday After Trinity 12-July-2020
Sermon Text: Luke 5:1-11
Sermon Theme: “What Are You Willing To Give Up To Follow Jesus?”
I.N.R.I. “Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me!”David prays in the 27th Psalm. Desperate despairing the prophet Elijah cries out to the Lord. All appears lost. The church is destroyed – the Lord’s altars torn down – His Word forsaken – His preachers all slaughtered – Elijah is certain that he is the only one left. Now the government has vowed to silence his voice. What’s the use? Why go on? The mission is hopeless. The Lord is gracious and answers Elijah – not in a rock shattering wind – not in an earthquake – not in fire – but in a still small voice. He calls the prophet to turn away from walking by sight and calls him to trust in His rule. Believe that the Lord God rules both the state and the church controlling world history for the sake of His promise. Trusting in the Lord’s Holy Spirit to preserve the faithful hidden church through His Word preached.
Elijah casts his cloak upon Elisha – calls him into the prophetic ministry. What has he done to him? Called him to bear the burden of preaching God’s Word to a world that is lulled to sleep by Satan’s lie. Centuries later as Jesus heads to Jerusalem to fulfill Elijah’s preaching by His sacrifice on the cross, men beg to follow Jesus. St. Luke records, Luke 9:57 As they went on the way, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”58 Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”59 He said to another man, “Follow me!”But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”60 Jesus told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”61 Another man also said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say good-bye to those at my home.”2 Jesus told him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Following Jesus isn’t a path to personal gain or popularity. There is a cost, as Dr. Luther taught us to sing, “And take they are life, goods, fame, child, and wife…”It is the daily call to deny self and follow Jesus. We are marked people – tattooed with His cross in our baptism to die to self and to rise in Christ to new life. St. Peter writes to Christians in the dispersion to you and me. He reminds us that we are called to suffer with Christ – to bear reproach because we bear Jesus’Name – “The Lord who made heaven and earth.”
Today as Jesus calls Peter, James, John into the pastoral ministry – he asks us, baptized into the priesthood of all believers, “What Are You Willing To Give Up To Follow Jesus?”
This wasn’t the first time that Simon, James, and John met Jesus. John and Simon’s brother Andrew were disciples of John the Baptist. The Baptist had pointed his disciples to Jesus preaching, “Behold, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.” John and Andrew follow Rabbi Jesus to learn His Word. The next day Andrew brings his brother Simon to meet Jesus the Messiah. Our Lord looks at Simon and gives him the name “Cephas” or “Peter”- “The Rock.” John, no doubt, also told his brother James about the Christ and His Word. Simon, Andrew, James, and John serve the Lord and their neighbor as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee or as it was known to the Gentiles – “the lake of Gennesaret.”James and John work with Simon as partners in the fishing industry.
Their labor through the previous night had been all for nothing. As the sun rose they wash the sea weeds and debris from their nets so they would hang them up to dry go home and sleep a few hours before working through the next night. Their necessary work is interrupted. (vs.1-2) Jesus is preaching. The crowds press upon Him to hear the Word of God near the water. Whenever the Jews were exiled from the Temple in Jerusalem, if there weren’t even ten faithful families to form a synagogue – they met by the water to pray. Echoing back to the first verses of Genesis where the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters. Jesus now enters the Nave! (vs.3). Simon’s boat becomes Jesus’ pulpit. Christians name the area where the congregation hears Christ’s Word preached – “the nave”- Latin for “the boat.”Our Lord Jesus foreshadows His abiding presence among both Jew and Gentile within His Church through His Word preached and spoken over baptismal water.
What did Jesus preach to His congregation gathered by water from the pulpit of the nave – Simon’s boat? Luke doesn’t record it – or does he? Christ Jesus crucified for our sins and risen for our justification would open the Scriptures to His apostles and send them forth to preach. Luk 24:46-48 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, (47) and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (48) And you are witnesses of these things.” Jesus’preaching echoed that of St. John the Baptist, as St. Mark records, Mar 1:14-15 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, (15) and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” The apostles would only echo Jesus’Word. Those whom Jesus calls and sends forth into His Church to preach echo Jesus’Word recorded by the apostles and evangelists. Christ Jesus is still preaching in His Church – He told the 70 disciples sent to preach -“Luk 10:16 He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.”
What are you willing to give up to follow Jesus? Time? Peter, James, and John worked all night. They were tired. They had necessary work to complete. They set it all aside to hear Jesus preaching from the nave. What excuse do you give for neglecting to gather in the nave to hear Jesus preaching? No time? Jesus gave up eternity to enter history and redeem your time. Repent and follow Jesus.
The sermon finally finished our Lord calls Peter to act on His Word. (Vs.4) Simon is to carry the sermon into his daily labor. Jesus issues a command – “launch out into the deep and let down your nets.”And He attaches a promise – “for a catch.”The Lord would send despairing Elijah away from the cave on Mount Horeb with a command to anoint a new king over Israel and Syria and to anoint Elisha to replace him. Then the Lord spoke a promise – His Word had preserved His Church – 7,000 faithful remained hidden even from the prophet’s eye. Peter echos our Lord’s command to live Christ’s preaching as we serve our neighbor in our callings in the home, Church, or State –1Pe 3:8-9 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; (9) not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”
What does a carpenter’s Son know about fishing? Simon had fished the Sea of Galilee from little on learning the trade from his father. He made his living as a fisherman partnering with James and John. The whole village of fishermen knew that Jesus’command was absurd – it isn’t how or when fish are caught. Simon would be the joke for years to come if he obeys Jesus’command. (Vs.5) Simon lays aside all his wisdom and ways and trusts in his Master’s Word. Jesus is his Bishop – the Overseer of his soul. He clings only to Christ’s Word – even though it will make him a fool in the eyes of his fellow fishermen.
What are you willing to give up to follow Jesus? Are you willing to trust alone in your Master’s Word and to do it? Husbands loving your wives as Christ loves the Church and died for her? Wives respecting your husbands as the Church is obedient to Christ its head? Children obeying your parents in the Lord? Preachers preaching only the apostolic doctrine of Christ and living it? Hearers – gladly receiving Jesus’Word preached from the pulpit and supporting the preacher even if his appearance is weak and his speech contemptible? Government humbling yourselves as servants of God to protect and serve the citizens by the rule of law? Citizens as honoring government as God’s blessing to preserve peace and order in our land? Are you willing to forsake yourself – your wisdom – your whims – your desires – your thinking you know better – humbling your self to cling to Jesus Word by faith and pour out your life in wilful loving service to your neighbor? Jesus did! The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and lay down His life for sinners – for us. Jesus, the eternally only begotten Son of the Father – coeternal, coequal with the Father and the Holy Spirit in every aspect – joyfully is obedient to His Father’s Word to death – horrible death upon the cross. Repent and follow Jesus.
God’s Word works. It is sacred – gladly hear and learn it every Sunday and daily at home. His Word will not return unto Him void – it is living and active – sin destroying and life giving. (Vs.6-7) Christ’s Word blesses Simon with so many fish that it threatens to swamp the boats. Peter blessed to overflowing now understands that he is in the presence of the Creator God.(vs. 8) Jesus is as Andrew had told him the Christ – God with us in human flesh. No sinner can stand in the presence of the living God – Peter begs Jesus to go away for he knows and feels that he is only a sinful man.
Listen to Jesus’ gracious words to sinners like Peter – “Do not be afraid!”Crushed and convicted by your sin – listen Jesus calls you to His pierced side saying, “Don’t be afraid, My wounds heal you – My living blood flowing from My crucified and risen flesh wash away all your sins – you are forgiven – redeemed – you are the Father’s beloved child – you are My brother and sister – you belong to Me – I have freed you from slavery to sin, death, and Satan – now in Me and My kingdom you live under me in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.”(Vs.9-11) Peter was astonished at Jesus’Word and gracious abundant overflowing blessing. Now the Lord calls Peter to the apostleship – “You will catch men.”How? By trusting in Jesus Word and casting the net of His Word into the water – preaching the gospel to and baptizing all nations. As Jesus teaches, “Mat 13:47-48 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, (48) which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.”From the Nave – the Boat of the local Christian congregation the net of the Word is cast forth into the sea of our local community and the world. How? St. Peter reminds you – 1Pe 2:9-10 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (10) who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”It is through you – members of the priesthood of all believers – always being ready to speak Christ’s Word to those who ask you why do you have hope in a hopeless world – to tell them of Jesus.
Peter, James, and John left everything to follow Jesus – what are you willing to give up to follow Jesus? Jesus gave up His life to free you from death. He gave up His heaven to suffer your hell. He give you all – forgiveness, life, and salvation in His body and blood placed upon your lips. Follow Him – do not be ashamed to speak His Word before this wicked and adulterous generation. Cast the net of His Word forth with gentleness and respect. Trusting that God the Holy Spirit still gathers the elect from every nation through Christ’s Word. Amen.
By Rev. Nathan J. Rusert 12 July 20