Monday, February 8, 2010

Catching Men

Fifth Sunday in Epiphany
Luke 5:1-11
Bror Erickson

[5:1] On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, [2] and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. [3] Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. [4] And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." [5] And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets." [6] And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. [7] They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. [8] But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." [9] For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, [10] and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men." [11] And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. Luke 5:1-11 (ESV)

And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they did this, the enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.

“At your word Lord.” Peter had been fishing all night and hadn’t caught anything. He had no reason to believe that anything different would happen now. He was probably tired, exhausted, looking for a nap. He didn’t want to waste any time fishing for fish that weren’t there. “But at your word Lord” what simple faith. I’ll do it because you have asked me. I’ll do it for you Lord. A simple trust in his word that something good would come of all this. At your word, I’ll do what you ask, I’ll let down the nets. Simple faith trusts and does what is asked and the result is incredible. “From now on you will be catching men.”

I don’t know. I’ve been blessed with a few good fishing trips in my life. I’ve seen it where the day just isn’t good, and no matter what you do you don’t seem to catch anything. You just get frustrated. The lines get tangled and the dog eats your lunch before getting lost. And I’ve seen it where the fish just bite and bite, you limit out in an hour and wonder what you should do the rest of the day. And I’ve seen it where you spend hours without a bite, but nothing else to do, you stay, and the next thing you know you have a bite, a big bite, followed by another one, and another one. “From now on you will be catching men.”
The inference is that this miracle is a metaphor for evangelism. That what happened here with fish is what will happen with for the apostles, and all the disciples, those who follow Christ in the arena of evangelism sharing the gospel with those around them and converting peoples.
The history of the church is replete with miraculous conversions after miraculous conversions. Possibly because all conversions are miraculous. There never seems to be any logic, reason or rhyme for them. It always, and always comes down to the work of the Holy Spirit, the net God has given us to use, to put down when we speak His word and the Holy Spirit descends upon our hearts, calls us by the gospel, enlightens us with his gifts, sanctifies and keeps us in the one true faith. We tell others of the forgiveness of sins, and they believe it just as we do, they become our brother, our sister in Christ.
It isn’t always easy. As Peter stands before Christ in fear because he is a sinful man. So us sinners are so often afraid to invoke His awe inspiring word when talking to friends and neighbors, family members maybe most of all. God’s word, it can be scary even for us. It can be painful. There are times when God’s word works as a double edged sword that seems to slice through the soul. I’ve had it happen. Reading God’s word and standing before myself in the mirror of the law, embarrassed at things I have done, at who I am, at thoughts I have had, at words I have said. Anyone who takes it seriously will have the same happen to them. But how necessary it is. For God’s word to prune and shape us even as he forgives us.
No, the fishing isn’t always easy. There are long dry spells. You cast out the nets, you practice throwing them. You mend them with constant study of God’s word. But it doesn’t seem that anything gets caught. No one pays attention. At those times it is good to pay attention yourself, let the Holy Spirit work on you in prayer and devotion, then in turn He will work through you also. But it will always be Him working. And just as He has brought you to faith through the hearing of His word, so He will also bring others to faith through the word spoken through you. It will happen for them as it happened for you. When hearing of Christ and His death on the cross the Holy Spirit convicts that yes the forgiveness of sins is not just for the world, but for them also.
Now the Peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.


Craig and Heather said...

Have you noticed the parallels between this passage and John 21?
I have often wondered if the beginning of John 21 happened at the same place.

Bror Erickson said...

Very well possible I suppose. It doesn't say, but I could see Jesus doing that.