Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church

2022 Trinity 5 H Sermon

A Word to Go On

Luke 5:1-11

July 17, 2022 anno Domini

Elijah is in bad shape in today’s Old Testament reading. He’s mad. He’s depressed. He’s despairing. Just yesterday Elijah had the world by the Baals. He was on top of the world (actually, Mount Carmel), because 450 prophets of Baal were six feet under. It couldn’t get any better for God’s prophet and so it got worse, much worse.

Queen Jezebel put out a contract on Elijah’s life. There was no champagne in the prophetic locker room, no victory lap around Mount Carmel. Elijah ran for his life into the wilderness. He asked the Lord that he might die, but the Lord wouldn’t have it. “Get up and eat.” The Lord gave him a cake and some water. Then an angel came to strengthen Elijah and preached the same thing. “Arise and eat.” Elijah journeyed 40 days until he came to Horeb, the Mountain of God.

That’s where the Old Testament reading takes place. Elijah had enough. He said, read 1 Kings 19:10.  God had displayed His almighty power to Elijah on Mount Carmel against the false god Baal, but on Horeb all God gave Elijah was His Word. “I’m sending you help. I’m giving you two Kings and a vicar. The Kings will take care of old Jezebel. And Vicar Elisha will follow you as a prophet. One more thing Elijah. You’re not alone. There are 7000 other members in My congregation. You just can’t see them from where you are.”

Elijah left Mount Horeb with nothing except the voice of God in his ears – Hazael, Jehu, Elisha, 7000.  All I have for you this morning is a Word. That’s all God has given me to give to you. That Word alone is all you have to go on this week. You might not see God at work in the world. You might think you’re alone. You might want to give up on life. That’s why you need God’s Word. It’s all that matters. It will take away the sins of last week. It will hold you through next week. God’s Word can pluck you out of sin, heal the most grievous wounds you have inflicted or sustained, break open your coffin, and breath life back into your dead bones and make you new again. This Word of God is Jesus.

Simon is also in bad shape today. It’s nearing the end of the season for  Wicked Tuna and he hasn’t landed a fish all night. Peter was washing the nets to be ready for another night of fishing. He was eager to go home, take a shower, drink a cold beer, and go to bed so he could work again that evening.

Sometimes when you have a bad day the last person you want to see is your pastor. Even worse is when your pastor shows up to ask for something. “Simon, I need your boat. Get in and take me out a little from shore.”

Jesus wasn’t really asking for Peter’s boat. He was asking for Peter’s faith. Jesus wanted Peter. Peter had heard Jesus before. Now on the shore of Gennesaret Peter heard him again. There was something different about Jesus’ words. He brought the mighty down. The lowly He lifted up. He called everyone to repent. When He talked about Abraham and Sarah or Ruth and Boaz – it was like he was there. He knew them. Whatever He said, you knew He could do.

So, Jesus spoke, and Peter did. The boat went out and Jesus preached, and Peter heard. Then Jesus asked for more. Luke 5:4b. Once again, Jesus wasn’t after fish. He was after Peter.  Peter and his guys fished the shallows. Jesus says, “Go deep.”  They fished at night. Now it was the middle of the day.  vs. 5. 

At your word. What happens at the Word of Jesus? The best day of fishing ever for Peter. On any other day Peter would have stopped by Westre Marine on the way home to price out a new boat, but not on this day. The catch of fish is so great that it threatens to drown Peter. But it’s not drowning that Peter fears. It’s damnation. He now sees that the guy in the boat with him, this Jesus, is the Holy God. The last place a sinner wants to be is in same boat with God. vs. 8c

Jesus is not soft and cuddly. He isn’t your boyfriend or your bromance with whom you can have a relationship. He is Holy God in the flesh who is not only omnipotent – meaning he has power to fill your boat with fish, in the middle of the day, from the depths of the sea, but He is also omniscient – He knows everything, everything you have done, said, thought, kept secret. He knows your entire internet history and could recall every thought you ever had about your wife, your co-workers, your pastor, and those Somalians. Is it any wonder Peter wants out of the boat and away from winning this season of Dangerous Catch?

God’s Word is hard, and often we want to run away from it. God is holy and we are not. His Word is true, and we are liars. His Word threatens sinners with hell, and we don’t want to go there.

But here’s the mystery about God’s Word. He doesn’t speak His hard Word to chase you away, but to draw you near. He speaks the hard Word so that you can receive His easy Word. God never asks for anything He doesn’t give. He asks for righteousness, and you don’t have any, but He gives Jesus. For our sake [God] made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might be the righteousness of God.

Whatever God says it is so. If He tells you to cast your net into the deep in the middle of the day, it’s going to work. You know this for one reason – Jesus the Christ of God. God said to Eve, to Abraham, to Isaac, to David, to Isaiah, I am going to save you. Through Rahab and Judah and Tamar He did. The Son of God was born of Mary. This true man obeyed His Father and mother. He loved His neighbor, even the German barbarians. He took your sin into His flesh, buried it in His grave, and by His resurrection gave you His righteousness. God promised to save sinners and He did in Jesus of Nazareth. When He says, “You’re forgiven,” you’re forgiven. You have the risen and living body and blood of Jesus on it. If He says He loves you – even if you know you’re an ugly sinner under your Sunday finest, you are loved. How do you know? Look no farther than Jesus. Listen to no other Word than that foolish word of the cross and believe it.

Jesus speaks and gives and then asks. This is the pattern of faith for the Christian. You have nothing. You are skunked when it comes to goodness and righteousness. Your boat is empty. Then Jesus climbs into the boat with you and gives you overwhelming gifts. So much so that you need someone else to come and help you collect them.  Jesus gives and then He asks you to give what He has given. You are forgiven so forgive. You are loved so love. You are holy so be holy. You are righteous so live a right life – in line with His Word. He gave Peter a double boatload of fish and then asked Peter to fish some more, but this time for men.

It doesn’t happen very often but I catch fish for one reason – to kill and to eat. The only way I’m catching and releasing is if that fish is inedible. When Jesus called Peter to be a fisher of men, an apostle, his task was to catch men alive. You are dead until you are caught by Christ. We are in the deep and dark abyss of this world where nothing lasts. Everything sinks to the bottom and dies. When the Word of Jesus is cast into this world it catches dead people and makes them alive. We are put back into God’s Water by baptism, to swim and live in the water of life, which is Jesus.

All Elijah had was God’s Word. All Peter had was God’s Word. All I have for you today is God’s Word, but God’s Word is Jesus and He is more than you will ever need. Jesus has caught you with a net-breaking, boat sinking load of forgiveness and righteousness. Believe His Word and cast it out this week wherever He takes you that others may be caught alive in the name of Jesus.  Amen.