The Lutheran Church of the Triune God

5th Sunday after Trinity July 20, 2014

 

Luke 5:1-11 Whatever You Say, Lord!

 

Dear fellow redeemed:

If I were to invite you to go fishing on Gunflint Lake, would you listen to my advice on how to fish?

* I do know the lake a whole lot better than you do.

Would you answer me, "Whatever you say pastor!"?

* Wherever you fish, whether on Gunflint or somewhere else, making a catch depends on

using your logic. Here's what you may know:

1 The best time to go fishing is at dawn or dusk; early morning or at night.

2 Fish bite the most when it's cool and when they haven't been feeding all day.

3 Other things making a difference are the weather, the wind, the amount of sunlight.

4 And don't forget the barometric pressure.

Fishing is generally better if it's rising or falling.

 

There's plenty of logic that goes into making a catch.

* It's why we can imagine Peter's reaction in today's text.

"Put out into the deep and let down the nets for a catch?! This is your fishing tip?!"

Peter and the others had been at it all night! Jesus couldn't be serious!

* Then again, Jesus was more than his pastor. He was the Lord.

It explains why Peter catches himself saying, "But at your word I will let down the nets."

"Whatever you say, Lord!" was the right answer.

* Not that Peter was on board yet with Jesus' advice.

After all, Peter was the expert. He had made a living fishing.

* So I'm thinking his response was more along the line, "Okay, Lord. We'll see.

 

It's often the response we hear from today's disciples.

* "You say I'll be catching men by relying on nothing more than your Gospel and

sacraments. I'm not seeing the logic in this, Lord, but, whatever you say!"

* But if it's our logic or common sense that we really trust, pretty soon we're not going to

be listening any longer to what the Lord says.

* Instead, we're going to be chiming in with the wisdom of the day.

"We can't expect to make our catch in the 21st century by simply telling people we preach

Christ crucified and we're not ashamed of the sacraments.

* "What we really need to do, is rely on our modern skills and years of experience.

We need to use the techniques others have been using to get people through these doors!"

* Sadly, it doesn't matter that they have little to do with Christ's Church and God's Word,

and a lot more to do with how the world captures its clients.

 

Today's Church Growth movement is a movement that's known less for its name and more for its

businessman-like approach.

* Jesus informs his Church that from now on we'll be catching men not by relying on our

various tricks of the trade, but relying on God's Word, nothing more than his Gospel and

sacraments.

* But the word today is: We must get out of the boat and meet people where they are in

their secular thinking.

* Find out people's likes and dislikes. Determine where your community is at, and base

your ministry on giving people what they want.

* Let me share with you just one silly example of what I'm talking about.

This past week I received a mailing from a certain church in Brooklyn Park.

* Enclosed was an invitation with the bold caption reading: "Transforming Churches to

Transform Communities."

* And then came the bait-and-switch: "This is your opportunity to bring your pastoral staff

and lay leadership together for a hands-on, dynamic dialogue on how to be the kind of

church that is truly transforming its community."

 

It's just one example, but it demonstrates where countless churches are at these days when it

comes to evangelism and outreach.

* The capturing, it's believed, takes place outside of the church; outside of the boat. And it

explains why so many use techniques having nothing to do with God's Word of grace.

* We lure people in with our relevant programs, our coffee shops, our happy-clappy music

and dances. We give them a reason for wanting to come to our church which has nothing

to do with Jesus Christ and what he's achieved for the whole world.

* First we capture our worshipers.

Then we imagine they're going to respond to God Word when they're already coming for

a different reason; for our programs and music and dances.

 

Really? Consider Jesus' words: "From now on you will be catching men."

* The meaning of that word "catch" in the Greek is very interesting.

The verb can actually be translated "to capture alive"!

* In other words, we don't capture men when they're dead, before they've come to faith.

The real capture takes place in the church, when they've found their way into the boat!

The real capture happens not when the church relies on human words of persuasion, but the

church lets down their nets for a catch; pastors preach the words of Jesus and people listen.

* To "capture alive" is to capture not by giving people what they think they want, but by

giving them what they need; the Gospel of our Savior.

 

 

Still, we may have no trouble relating with Peter after he's fished all night.

* He's weary and tired. And then Jesus tells him, the experienced fisherman, to put out into

deep water "and let down the nets for a catch"!

* Come on! Put out into the deep water? You don't catch fish that way! It was in the

shallow waters that they were successful. Jesus should leave the details to us!

What Christ was proposing simply was not logical!

 

If we're able to relate with Peter, this morning, it may be because we too are having trouble with

Christ's fishing tips.

* His promise to Peter that from now on he'll catching men is also a promise to the Church.

But from a logical standpoint, we struggle with his words.

* You mean we're not to use the approach that's been successful for so many others?

Instead of listening to the community about what will attract them to our church, we're

simply to preach God's Word?

* But it's not working! Just take a look around you!

Those growing are those receiving their tips from today's church growth movement!

* We have trouble with Jesus' words, for if listening to these others helps us get more fish,

more people into the church, shouldn't we give their techniques a chance?

* Just take a look around you?! How about we just listen to what we're saying!

What we're claiming is, people won't respond to God's Word until we've lured them

here with something else.

 

Unresponsive people can be very annoying at times.

1                  Your flight is four hours, so you attempt to strike up a conversation with the passenger

beside you. He or she smiles at you, offers a brief response, and goes back to reading.

2 Or you find your seat for a wedding reception at a table where you don't know a soul.

You try to make eye contact with the person sitting next to you, who doesn't know

anyone either. But he feels safer staring at the one across the table dominating the

conversation.

 

Maybe we all feel that way at times.

* I speak not of our efforts to be friendly with a stranger, but to confess the faith.

* It doesn't matter whether you're a pastor or whether you're in grade school.

Jesus promises people will be brought into his Church through every one of your callings.

* Every day you can draw people's attention to the faith by what you say and do.

You can trust his instructions to put out into the deep.

* But right now this one calling of yours doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

The idea of responding to Jesus and exclaiming, "Whatever you say, Lord!" doesn't seem

like the logical thing to do right now.

* It would seem you've already done everything you can do.

This person you've interacting with is not going to respond.

1) My son isn't going to take my advice on how to turn his life around.

He's grown up! Why bother spouting off my Christian views?

2) Or maybe it's my friend. For years I've tried to get through to him.

Despite his great losses in life, God can help him find a renewed sense of purpose.

But no. He's gotta live his own life.

3) Or it may be it's our wife or husband.

They're having trouble forgiving and reconciling with a family member.

We tell our spouse, "You'll get there! That's why we go to church!?"

* But it's not working. And we're not sure whether we can offer any more encouragement.

It will just irritate him or her.

Confess the faith; let down the nets?! In each case, it's just not logical!

 

Of course, you know how the story ends, don't you?

Immediately after expressing his doubts, Peter makes the catch of a lifetime and then some.

* And what's interesting is this tremendous number of fish did not get away.

Even though Peter and the others caught such a large number that their nets began to

break, we're told that they "filled both boats, so that they began to sink."

* Although their nets didn't appear to be up to the job, they were all they needed to secure

their great catch.

* And that's how it is with God's Word; the Gospel.

Maybe Triune God will never make a catch like the disciple Peter, but we know what

happens when we respond: "Whatever You Say, Lord."

* Even if Christ's Gospel doesn't appear to be up to the job, we can trust the words of our

Savior to get the job done.

 

And we trust his Word despite what we've come to know about ourselves.

* We may feel for Peter at this point of the story.

He sees this miraculous catch and realizes how wrong he was for doubting.

* So he falls at Jesus' knees saying: "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord."

Jesus should leave Peter, since this so-called fisherman is nothing but a sinner.

* This would be the most logical response on the part of Christ.

He had no use for Peter! Peter couldn't even trust in him! He was a loser!

 

Jesus calls on Peter to make a catch, but Peter's convinced he's not the man.

* Maybe that's how you're feeling right now.

What interest could Jesus have in me?

Why waste his time after I've doubted him and trusted in my own expertise?

* Logic tells me God's not going to want me as his servant!

 

Well, maybe from our standpoint he shouldn't.

* From his standpoint, however, he's absolutely ready to respond to our calling out in faith,

"Whatever You Say, Lord."

* Jesus acts, you see, not according to logic but according to his grace.

Take his words to Peter: "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men."

* It's quite remarkable! Logic told Peter that his usefulness to Jesus was over.

Jesus might as well move on to the next person in line.

* But in calling him a fisher of men, Christ communicates to Peter his unconditional and

complete forgiveness. He wasn't interested in condemning him!

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the

world through him" (John 3:17).

* And who better to use for getting this message out, than someone who yearns for the very

same Word since he knows he's a sinner!

* To think that Jesus would give his life for him despite Peter's utter unworthiness!

To think that he'd remove his sin from God's sight, and let him live to talk about it!

What an amazing promise, and one that could be trusted!

 

And it's a promise you can trust, as well.

* Although you're not worthy of it, none of us are, the words you speak about Christ who's

redeemed sinners, will make people alive in Christ.

* It may not be a boat full. You and I may never again see these pews full on a given

Sunday, but Jesus' words stand.

* "Do not be afraid." "Whatever I say, you can take me at my Word!

I will use you to make my catch and to fill my boat!"

* No. That doesn't sound logical. But the Gospel isn't logical.

"For the word of the cross is folly (utter foolishness) to those who are perishing, but to

us who are being saved it is the power of God."

 

You know, there's a question I hear time and again when I'm about to leave on vacation.

"Are you going to do any fishing up north, Pastor?

* Well, let me beat you to the punch. It's been decades since I last used my rod and lure.

And quite frankly I don't think you would want me as a fishing partner.

* You see, I can't stand the messy job of cleaning the fish afterwards.

And I don't have the patience to sit in a boat for hours waiting for the fish to get their act

together. No disrespect intended!

* But honestly, I am not worthy of being a fisherman.

And neither am I worthy of being a fisher of men.

* And neither are you worthy of the calling into which the Lord has placed you and

whereby you can let down the nets into the deep.

 

But thank our Lord he hasn't called us because we're worthy or we're the logical choice.

He's called us because he has a job for us to do.

* What an incredible privilege: to let down the nets, Christ's saving Gospel, for a catch; to

respond to Christ and his Word, "Whatever You Say, Lord!"

* After all, it never costs us a thing.

We simply trust his Word to do what Jesus says it will do: capture and save. Amen.

 

May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Amen.