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Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
June 26, 2016
Central Passage
Luke 5:1-11
Description

In the name of the FATHER and of the + SON and of the HOLY SPIRIT.

I have toiled all night and come up empty handed.

It’s not hard to imagine that Peter and his fellow fishermen let down their nets with heavy sigs and forlorn attitudes. It’s not hard to imagine that they thought, “Why? What good will this do?”

Faith is not absent simply because frustration is present. Mother’s may well be frustrated tending to their children, but they do it. And their work is faithful. It is faithful to the child who is cared for; it is faithful to the godly vocation of motherhood; and it is, even when an unbeliever does it, faithful to the word of God which tells mothers to be mothers. Now we want to be quick to point out that this faithfulness in no way earns the mother’s salvation, and so let it be pointed out. But we’re not talking about salvation. We’re talking about vocation. So even the unbeliever can made a good banker or teacher or farmer or father or president. Even and unbelieving king who cares about being king and his subjects is pleasing to God in his vocation.

And there is reward for such faithfulness. The mother is rewarded with children who love her. The farmer is rewarded with crops. The teacher is rewarded with well-taught students. Not only this, but there is reward in the form of contentment. It’s no accident that a job well-done is pleasing both to the worker and the one for whom the job was done. Both find satisfaction in it. The book of Proverbs has much to say about this and is well worth the meditative reading.

But the unbeliever, though he may be good at his job and so reap the benefits of it, is still an unbeliever. There is no faith in God’s word. It is God’s grace that gives him contentment and satisfaction and the benefits of his labor, even though the unbeliever won’t give thanks to God or acknowledge Him in any way. For God’s grace is not limited to believers only, but He gives daily bread to all people, even to all wicked people. His obedience to the will of God is not born of love. He has no purpose to do what he is doing beyond the here and now, the immediate, worldly benefits. That is why so many despair of their lives, of their vocations and leave them, leaving a wake of devastation behind them.

Father’s grow tired of fathering and mothers grow tired of mothering. Husbands and wives grow tired of one another as do parents and children, and so on and so forth so that we have what we have today: a world torn apart by restlessness and faithlessness. It is because there is no greater reward to what is done that simply doing it. It is not done of love for God but out of love for self. So our libraries and book stores are full of books that talk about finding contentment in yourself and loving yourself and taking care of yourself first. But the self is never satisfied but always roaming and rebelling. The self toils all night and takes nothing because the work is meaningless and trite.

But the believer’s obedience is born of love. And she does what she does because Her Lord has asked her to. So St. Peter says, “At your word I will let down the nets though we have toiled all night and taken nothing.” So the mother says, “At your word I will feed and play with my children because you have said to do so, even though I seem to get nothing but a aching back out of it.” And the husband says, “I will love and care for my wife and be faithful to her in all things because you have commanded it, even though my pride is not content in it and it brings my flesh little pleasure.” There is faithfulness even in frustration. And when it is done in faithfulness it drives out the old man which is why Peter, having obeyed, confesses his sins.

Peter, having obeyed fell down saying, “I am a sinful man!” Confess your sins of unbelief and frustration and doubt; your sin of begrudging your duty and hating your charges. Such sins don’t undo your work any more than Peter’s sin undid the work of catching the fish. But what your confession does is clear the way for your faith to grow into stronger obedience. So the Lord says that the one who is faithful in very little will be given more but the one who is faithless will lose even what he thinks he has. He says to Peter, “You have been faithful hearing and obeying my word with the fish, now you will be catching men.”

Now don’t think that the Lord has called you away, or might call you away from your vocations to some mythical field of evangelism or missions. But don’t think either that you are not catching men in the net of the gospel. It is true that there is the Office of the Holy Ministry. This office was ordained and instituted by our Lord to continue the apostolic teaching so that we wouldn’t go astray in doctrine and life. But He did not create it so that pastors alone catch men. The gospel catches men. It catches men in your vocations as father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, and worker. Do what you are called to do and give thanks to God, confessing your sins and rejoicing in the salvation of God in Christ Jesus. This is what catches men.

The best thing you can do is attend the Lord’s gathering and make it known to the world that you do so. While we certainly acknowledge the Lord for all His benefits to us in many and various ways, none of them are as full or as obedient as this one. For He has said, “Take, eat; take, drink.” And He has said, “Do not neglect to gather together.” And He has said, “Hear my Word and listen to the voice of my Servant.” So even if we have done so with seemingly no benefit, still we say, “At your word, Lord, I will do so.” And He will bless you. Not with the treasures of this life but with the eternal treasures of the life of the world to come.

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IN NOMINE IESU

+ AMEN +