Pastor's Sermon - Large Print
February 10, 2019
Luke 5:1-11
The 5th Sunday after Epiphany
Rev. Matthew C. Rauh

 
Wanted:  Disciples of Christ
 
    One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
     When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
     Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
     When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
      When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
      Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
 
     Have you ever looked for a job?  If so, you may have browsed the want ads in the newspaper or Shopper.  In the ad the employer usually lists the job and any qualifications or necessary skills.  For example, a want ad may sound something like this:  “Wanted, office secretary.  Dependable, hardworking, able to get along with other people.  Basic filing and word processing skills necessary.”
     In our text this morning we have the calling of Jesus’ first disciples, Peter, James and John.  But from their example we get an idea what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.  It is like a want ad:  “Wanted:  Disciples for Christ.  Trusting.  Humble.  Committed.”
 
I.  Trusting.
 
     The first quality in a disciple of Christ is trusting.  “One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.  When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”  Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”  When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.”
     Jesus is ready to call his first disciples.  He is at Lake Gennesaret, better known as the Sea of Galilee.  A large crowd as gathered to hear Jesus as always.  A fisherman by the name of Peter was there, along with his co-workers James and John.  They finished the night shift fishing and were on the shore washing and preparing their nets for the upcoming night’s work. 
     Jesus had a problem.  The crowd was so big there was no way they could hear him preach.  So he asked Peter to row him out a bit in his boat from the shore so his voice would carry better.  Actually this is not the first time Peter has met Jesus.  Jesus had been in Peter’s home.  Peter’s mother was terribly ill and Jesus came and healed her.  So when Jesus asked him to row him out, Peter was more than happy to help.  How about you?  When Jesus asks you to do something, are you willing to drop everything for him?  He asks you to befriend your neighbor whoever he may be.  When you see him in need, do you drop everything to help, or do you simply go on with your way thinking someone else will?  And when it comes to Jesus’ Word, do we drop everything to come and listen to him, or are we too busy on our day off or preparing for work?  May we learn from Peter here and drop everything for Jesus.
     After he preached from his floating pulpit, Jesus asked him to drop his nets into the deep part of the Sea of Galilee to fish.  Peter was a commercial fisherman.  The best time for fishing was at night and close to shore.  Jesus’ request made no sense.  Peter could have said, “You are a carpenter and I am a fisherman.  I won’t tell you how to make a table, and you don’t tell me how to fish.”  But Peter didn’t say that.  “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
     “Because you say so.”  What a powerful statement from Peter.  If John told him to do the same thing, Peter would have laughed and refused because fishing in daylight in deep water was a waste of time.  But because Jesus said so, he was willing to go against every bit of experience and knowledge he had and put his nets into the water.  That is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ; we trust him and do what he says even it goes contrary to everything we know and experience.  Jesus will often tell us to cast our nets, not where we think they should go, but into deep waters as though there is nothing for them to hold onto.  But God assures us that when we cast our faith in the direction of his choosing, it will not be in vain.
 
II.  A disciple is humble.
  
     The second quality of a disciple is humility, a humility.  “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.”
     Normally Peter would have dragged all that fish to shore and everyone would have patted him on the back and told him what a great fisherman he was.  But not today.  Peter didn’t feel pride or excitement.  He was humbled because there is only one explanation for his catch of fish:  Jesus is God and performed a miracle.  Suddenly Peter, when face to face with God, saw only how holy Jesus is and how sinful he is.  Peter fell to his knees and begged Jesus to leave. 
     How about you?  Are you humbled before the Lord?  You should be.  Let’s say you played some basketball in your day.  Maybe you thought you were pretty good, and maybe you were.  But if Kevin Durant showed up and said, “Let’s play some one on one,” you will certainly be humbled.  You will quickly find out you are not as good as you thought you were.  The devil puffs us up, trying to convince we are pretty good people, at least better than most.  But stand before God and you realize you are not as good as you thought.  In fact, you are a sinner who should not be before God.
     Peter begged a holy Jesus to leave.  He didn’t.  He stayed.  That is God.  He stays with sinners like us. Remember our Old Testament reading?  When Isaiah got a glimpse of heaven, he, too, felt how terrible a sinner he was.  “Woe to me!  I am ruined!  For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”  But God didn’t disintegrate Isaiah into dust, or kick him, or leave.  What did he do?  He sent an angel with a live coal and touched Isaiah with it.  “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
     God wants to stay with us so we can stay with him forever.  So he forgives us and he does it the only way possible.  Sin demands death, so Jesus died for us.  Go ahead, plead with any judge to put you in jail in place of some criminal.  He will refuse.  But God did that for us.  He punished Jesus so we can be forgiven and free.  Our sin is atoned for.  We are forgiven.  But guess what?  Jesus took up his life on the third day and the resurrection, and so we live, too, with him, now and in heaven.  Even if we should die, he will raise us for heaven.
     So how about you?  Be humble, and see what the Lord offers you.
 
III.  A disciple is committed.
 
     There is one more quality to being a disciple for Jesus:  commitment.  “Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”  This scene on the shores of the Sea of Galilee is the duty of every Christian, to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything Jesus teaches us.
     How about you?  So many people are happy and content to have their own church.  There they set out the net and come every Sunday to see if any fish have been wise enough to jump in.   Any small boy with bait and a pole could tell you that you must go where the fish are.  And the sea before us isn’t the Sea of Galilee which is 12 miles long and six miles wide.  The sea before us is the entire world.
     Now, Peter, James and John left their jobs, everything, to fish for men.  I know there are some here who could do that.  I know there are some here who could go to Martin Luther College to become pastors and teachers and fish for men. 
     I also know God has other plans for some of you, too.  Not all of you can jump into the boat and join Peter, James and John to fish for men in the public ministry.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t help.  Staying at home we can build the boats and make those nets and proved provisions for them as they go out.  Think about that the next time you fill out your offering envelope and you see the line for our Synod.  Those dollars are used to send out others in your name.
     We may not be able to travel the world, but we have our own Sea in our own backyard.  In my years of experience, 80-90% of those who take instructions to become members of the church are friends and relatives of members.  That means I didn’t find them.  You did.  Who do you know?  Who will talk to them if you don’t?
     That’s God’s want ad for disciples.  There is only one twist.  We didn’t wake up one day and say, “I’ll be a disciple.”  We didn’t chose God; he chose us and brought us to faith.  But now you are a disciple, and you see in our text what disciples do.  They trust the Lord.  They humble themselves before him.  They are committed to him and his work.  It is a perfect job for you.  Amen.