Sermon for Jan 29

By on January 29, 2017

Fishing

Preached to Clark’s Chapel UMC on 29 January 2017

Luke 5:1-11

NIV Luke 5:1 ¶ One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, 2 he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 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. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” 5 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.” 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 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. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 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.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

 

Introduce / Establish Need

 

As Marjory and I began planning this sermon series, I saw that we would encounter today’s text in which Jesus takes a few of his soon to be disciples fishing.  It started me thinking about my fishing experiences.  Almost all of them are from my youth.  I’ve fished with bobbers and worms, with spinners and artificial bait, and my personal favorite, fly fishing.  I’ve fished from the shoreline, in a boat, on a bridge or pier, and in the middle of a stream.  I remember the first fish I caught, the thrill of catching a trout in the stream with a fly that I had tied, and the last time I went fishing, which was really trolling.  And I don’t miss it!  Except for maybe one bucket list experience, and that would be deep sea fishing.  Perhaps on one of my future beach vacations, I’ll cross that one off.

 

For those of you who have fished, and if you haven’t ever fished, try to imagine the ups and downs of the experience.  There are times in which fishing is good.  You catch them, the mosquitos aren’t bad, and the experience is great.  And then there are the times when the fish aren’t biting but the mosquitos are, you get hooked or cut or worse.  Maybe that’s why I don’t miss it!

 

Jesus used a disappointing fishing experience to net some disciples.  In the hearing of this story, how will we respond to his call?

 

Into the Biblical World

 

Our story begins with Jesus standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee and there is a crowd around him.  What is the crowd doing?  They are listening to the word of God.  I’m going to take Luke literally here and suppose that Jesus is reading or quoting scripture to the crowd.  Earlier in the gospel, the crowds had gathered because of his teaching and were amazed.  The same scene is setting up again and they gather to hear Jesus proclaim the word of God.  We know the word of God to be authoritative as it contains God’s truth in all matters of faith and salvation.

 

However, the more interesting thing about this story is the drama that is about to unfold. Jesus notices two empty fishing boats with their owners nearby washing their nets.  One of these owners is Simon, who we know as Peter.  Remember that the timing of this story in Luke is before Peter becomes a disciple.

 

Jesus says to Simon, “I need your boat, put it out a little ways so I can sit down and teach.”  Luke then records that Jesus sat down and began to teach from the boat.  There was no objection from Simon and perhaps you can picture Simon in the boat holding the oars so that the boat is reasonably still while Jesus teaches.

 

Luke makes no mention of what Jesus taught or the response of the crowd, but simply says when he finished speaking, he asked Simon to put the boat out into the deeper water to catch some fish.  The Peter we all know and love says, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.”  This is a sentence of objection, of I’m the professional and the fish weren’t biting or to be had.  We tried all night and you think this is going to work?  You gotta be kidding.

 

Then Simon says those wonderful words … “But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”  Was Simon thinking that they would really catch fish?  Was he getting ready for the “I told you so” or was he preparing to be amazed?  Remember, this is early in Jesus’ ministry, but Simon has witnessed the healing of his mother-in-law.   Luke doesn’t tell us and so perhaps you should insert your own thinking here.  Many times I’ve been on both sides.  Marjory will ask me to move furniture around and I’ll tell her it won’t look right, but because you asked, I’ll do it.  Many times I’ve had to move it back while other times, it was a good suggestion.

 

There is an element of faith that says, but because you say so, I will let down the nets.  There is an element of faith that says, but because you taught us to pray, I will pray.  Because you say so, I will love God and love people; I will tell the good news and help the poor.

 

The story continues with a huge catch of fish, so much so that the nets were breaking and they needed the other boat to haul in the catch and even then they both began to sink.  In other words, this was a massive catch.

 

This shocked Simon Peter to the point that he recognized something about Jesus.  He falls at his knees and says, Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.  He and the others knew they were in the presence of the power of God.  Peter utters the cry of the unworthy when confronted with the presence of God.

 

Jesus responds with don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch people.  This is Jesus’ invitation and call to follow him.

 

Peter, Andrew, James, and John pull their boats up on the shore, left everything, and followed him.  Let’s slow down and catch this.  They have a massive catch of fish that they leave behind to follow Jesus.  Jesus has offered them a job with a simple description, follow him and catch people for the kingdom.  Can you hear the behind the scenes “because you say so, I will follow you?”

 

Into Our Experience

 

I’d like for us to see ourselves or our experiences in this story.  Look at the crowd.  In the beginning of the story, they gathered around Jesus to hear the word of God.  After Jesus finishes teaching, there is no more mention of them.  Did they take his word to heart?  When Jesus asked Simon to go to the deep waters, did they disburse or stay to see what might happen?  The Bible is silent and so we have to fill in our own response.  Let us be people who receive the word of God and anticipate the work of Jesus at any place and any time!

 

And then there is our friend Simon Peter.  I’m sure Peter had no trouble letting Jesus borrow the boat to teach.  But then Peter questions Jesus’ course of action when he asks him to go to the deep water.  Peter mouths off a bit, but in the end, gives faith in Jesus a try.  In doing so, he has one of those moments as he begins to see the true Jesus.  Not only Peter, but his companions and business partners, Andrew, James, and John.

 

Jesus offered them another fishing invitation, to catch people.  And their response is all in.  They leave their boats and everything to follow Jesus. What are we willing to leave on the shores of our lives in order to follow Jesus?  Do we have the faith to go to the deep water with Jesus?

 

The simple truth of this story is that ordinary men decided to put their faith in Jesus and join with him to participate in God’s kingdom.  That call stands for us today.  Hymn of Response, Jesus Calls Us, 398.  Hymn of Discipleship, Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.

 

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