Sermon, Feb. 10, 2019
Luke 5:1-11 – Living in the Light – Becoming a Follower of Christ
Jesus Calls His First Disciples
5 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret,[a] the people were 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 fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
May God bless us with understanding of these words.
Living in the Light – Becoming a Follower of Christ
We have heard the word for us today. The call of Simon to be a disciple of Jesus and this word beacons us to be disciples too. Jesus, commandeering Simon’s boat, instructs him to put down his net. The results are astonishing. But Simon’s first reaction is ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man’. In our life despite our feelings of unworthiness, we are to place our trust in God who calls us is to be astonished by the results. So, where are we being called to put down our nets? On this annual meeting Sunday perhaps new visions for ‘fish catching’ will come forward.
Simon Peter gets a glimpse of the power and knowledge of Christ, falls before him in the profound grip of his own sinfulness, but even so, Peter is called by Christ to become a fisher of men. Peter’s sin does not disqualify him from discipleship because the same power that caused him to fall on his knees, now lifts him up into Jesus’ service. That is the power of forgiveness that allows a person to live in the light; an epiphany moment. Here is another epiphany story. Simon’s call comes from Jesus’ ministry in Nazareth, an exorcism in the synagogue in Capernaum, healing Simon’s mother-in-law, many healing and exorcisms in Capernaum, preaching tours and such a growing popularity that the crowds were pressing in on him. All, of these happenings speak to Jesus calling disciples. Jesus’ own success made helpers necessary. The disciples Jesus calls are responding to his power to which they have witnessed. ‘Catching men’ really means to take alive, in the sense of rescuing from death; sin was surely thought to end in death in biblical days. Surely Peter never erased from his memory the day he knelt in a smelly fishing boat at the feet of Jesus.
Does it strike you that we just heard a 2,000- year- old story? 2000 years being told and re-told and here we are today, sophisticated, savvy, relatively well-off, still hearing and resonating with this old story from the mid-east. What is the attraction? Well the answer is basically, when you come right down to it, this story tells us why we are Christians. Christians kneel-down before Christ for forgiveness and for love. This story reveals why Jesus captured the people who first heard him and why he captures us today. This story is where Christianity began. Jesus has time for us, and he has time for affirmations for us. Most importantly, Jesus ignores the nay-sayers. This reading reminds us of a deep truth. Too often we feel that in order to be a good Christian we have to try hard and believe this or that, whether we, in fact, actually do believe this or that, that we first have to straighten out our life and get it together and feel this or that in our hearts, in order to be good enough to become a follower of Christ.
But listen again to the story: Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. In other words, forget about the past, with me you have a clean slate. We learn that we are followers of Jesus, because he is so open and accepting, so ready to have mercy upon us. We are important to Jesus even if we are unimportant to the world, no matter how small or minor a figure in society, how overlooked or unpopular – no matter how different we are, we are always noticed and loved with compassion by Jesus.
Here is an inspirational story of a mother who was asked if she loved her children equally. The mother’s answer was stunning: “I loved them. I loved each one of them but not equally all the time. I loved the one the most that was down until he was up. I loved the one the most that was weak until she was strong. I loved the one the most that was hurt until he was healed. I loved the one the most that was lost until she was found.” Sounds to me that her love is like what we know of Jesus and why we are followers of Christ living in the light. May it be so in your life as in mine. Amen.