Don’t Worry, be catching
Concordia Lutheran Church
February 10, 2019
Don’t Worry, Be Catching
† Jesus, Son and Savior †
May the grace, the mercy and peace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ so comfort you, so put to rest your worries, that you can go fishing with Jesus!
If you teach a man to fish…
Every once in a while, you hear a saying that someone says comes from scripture, but when you start to think about it, it is actually quite contrary to scripture. This one came to mind in regard to this sermon.
If you give a man a fish, you fed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish….
he has to buy rods, graphite reels, lines, boxes, boats, trailers, coolers, sonar fish finders and a whole catalog of other things!
I suppose there is a corollary, if you teach a man to fish for men, you have to build a church, call a pastor, pass budgets, elect board members, hire musicians, plan woman’s teas, family fun nights etc..
But not let’s get ahead of ourselves!
In our gospel today, Jesus is going to do some pretty incredible things. He’s going to teach the massive crowd, he’s going to cause a miraculous catch, but there is something much greater that will happen, so incredible that Peter and his partners will leave a once in a lifetime catch to rot on the beach.
And God will do to you the same thing today….
But first, we have to witness Peter freak out…
What caused Peter to stress out?
I must wonder about Peter, who spent his life working as a fisherman, as he first dropped the nets as this silly rabbi instructed.
I get the feeling he did it with a little sarcasm and even more disbelief. Yeah, you want me to go right back to where we dragged our nets, all night long, as if all of a sudden, during the hottest part of the day a thousand fish…
Got love Peter, because every once in a while he gets it.
I mean, I don’t think he listened to the Rabbi teach all that much, he may have even fallen asleep in the boat.
Hear it again, “When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” 9 For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. 10 His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.”
Peter collapses in fear, he begs Jesus to leave. In Greek, the phrasing pictures fear
Get out of here, don’t you know what a sinner I am? If you don’t leave, I am a goner!
It is a common story in scripture, whether it is Isaiah in our Old Testament reading, or Moses, or Elijah, whether it is David or Paul on the road to Damascus or John as God gives him the vision of Jesus in Revelation. Even those who encounter angels panicked, stressed out, and realized how ill-prepared we are to be in the presence of God
We are sinners, we don’t belong in Almighty, most Holy, most pure God’s presence.
And Peter realized it, and begged God to leave him.
Would we do the same, if we realized the depth of our sin, or the heartache it caused God?
Or do we take our sin to casually, just as if we think God will forgive this one again, that the damage we do will be taken care of?
What does Jesus offer us?
And as Peter collapses in the boat, Jesus says something quite amazing,
Fear not. Let’s go and catch something that really matters.
You see, unlike the times I go fishing, the word in Greek isn’t about sitting there with a rod in one hand and a drink in the other. It wasn’t like that for Peter and friends there. The words for fishing were “catch” and “harvest”
Jesus, knowing the cross is in the future, knowing that everyone one of Peter’s sins will be atoned for, knowing the forgiveness, even when Jesus would betray Jesus as Peter would tell people, “I never knew the man,” will be forgiven; says to Peter,
Don’t worry, don’t be afraid, don’t let being in my presence cause you anxiety.
Let’s go catch some people and bring them into the Kingdom of God.
What an invitation, to be partners with God! To engage in His greatest project, to redeem the world, to catch people and watch, as God begins to heal their broken and often tortured souls. To see the promises of God poured out on people you love, or will come to love, as they are united with Jesus in baptism. Ask Susan what it was like to help baptize one of her students, or ask Chuck why he demands to be the deacon on duty when we baptize someone.
Or ask the elders what it is like to help feed people the Body and Blood of Christ here at the altar.
There is something incredible about helping someone come to know God’s love. It drives Bernie to the Sudan and even more… to places like Texas and Minnesota. Or Pastor Davies to the mountain jungles of Papua Guinea, or even my friend Matt to a university in Nebraska where he works with students from around the world.
You and I are called to walk with God, fishing…
That is the greatest thing in this passage, the invitation to help others know Jesus, to draw them in, as a fisher draws in his nets.
I tell you something, there is no greater way to know the blessed, unexplainable peace of
Lutherans don’t give “normal invitations” at the end of a sermon.
But I will give you one today, and invitation I pray you can’t refuse…
Don’t worry, be catching….with Jesus