Trinity 5 (2013)
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
June 30, 2013
Central Passage
Luke 5:1-11

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

“At your word, Lord, I will let down the nets.” What obedience! What faith! The deep is not the place to catch fish and daylight is not the hour, but at your word, Lord. Nothing else, just your word, and I will do it. Only he didn’t do it, did he? Oh, sure, he set out into the deep and let down his nets, but that wasn’t the end of it. The catch of fish was the end. He set out to obey the Lord, but ended by asking the Lord to leave! The command was too great and the price was too high. We’re no longer talking about obeying the Lord’s quirky command to catch fish where there are none and to do so at the wrong time of day. Now we’re talking about our very lives!

The Lord gave a command and Simon sought to follow it and all hell broke loose. Nets were snapping; boats were cracking, flooding, and sinking; lives were in danger! All because the Lord commanded. Peter’s request that the Lord depart was a cry for mercy. Don’t destroy us, Lord! Don’t let us die! If you depart with your impossible demands we will live.

That’s how it goes with sinners and the Law of God. We are quick to say, “At your word, Lord.” At your word I will not covet. At your word I will love my enemies. At your word I will gladly attend the preaching. At your word I will teach my children. At your word I will give to the poor. At your word I will love my wife and submit to my husband. And like Simon we prepare ourselves to obey, confident in our ability – after all, we’ve been doing this our whole life. We know what is needed. The Law is not complicated. We set out to obey, thinking it easy enough. But then all hell breaks loose.

We set out to give to the poor, but after a few dollars we find ourselves hating them. We set out to love our enemies but quickly find that they are simply unlovable, and all their past misdeeds flood our minds and hearts and we hate them anew. We set out to hear God’s word but we soon find that the preacher actually expects us to follow through with our vows and promises and soon we find ourselves talking about how he is too strict and not gentle enough. We set out to raise our children in the fear and instruction of the Lord, but soon find that it’s not easy to teach them the ways of the Lord; easier to let them go the way of the world. We set out to love our wife as ourselves and honor our husband. But soon we find our husbands dishonorable and find that it is easier to love ourselves than our wives.

Our intentions are good. Even our efforts are good. But they are not enough. The command goes unfulfilled. For the command was not merely to set out into the deep and let down the nets, the command was to catch the fish.

No one would have thought Simon unreasonable had he cut the nets and his losses and saved his boat, his partners’ boat, and their very lives. He probably would have been hailed a hero. Certainly it would have been the smart business decision. After all, a fisherman without a boat is useless. Not to mention he had a wife and children, as did the others. It would have been plain stupid to go through with the command and try to catch these fish that were tearing the nets and sinking their boats.

So we often convince ourselves that it would be stupid to try and keep the whole command. It would be stupid tell the whole truth. We’d implicate ourselves. It would be stupid to teach our kids the word of the Lord everyday; they would tired of it. It would be stupid to love our enemies as ourselves because they’d take advantage of us. But there stands the Lord, watching you as He watched Simon. Simon felt the sting of disobedience, he was a sinful man. He felt the weight of the Law on his shoulders, he was a sinful man. He felt death begin to flood his boat, he was a sinful man. And he was afraid.

So he did what he thought would save himself. He bid the Lord depart. That’s always our reaction when we realize that we cannot keep the Law and we think ourselves damned for it. We bid the Lord depart. Not so directly as Simon did, but all the same. We begin by arguing against the Law. We know adultery is evil, but living together just makes sense. We know that covetousness is evil, but appearing to be smart with money is better than being thought to be poor. We know that not disciplining our children in the ways of the Lord is wrong, but denying them life’s opportunities just seems mean. We know that loving our enemies is the way of the Lord, but being taken advantage of is ridiculous.

And when we’ve convinced ourselves that the Law is unreasonable, we all the more quickly justify our sinfulness by appealing to our efforts and intentions. So we worship the idol called “Reasonable”. We serve the god called “Good Intentions” and “Tried Our Best”. They will not demand perfection or damn us for failing in our duty. Thy will understand our good intentions and our efforts. But the God called Holy, He is too much.

Repent. Put your eyes on Jesus, the Holy God who does not depart but absolves you. Fear not. That’s the absolution. Do not be afraid of your sinfulness. I have not come to judge or damn you. I have come to lead you to the shores of life and walk you down the path of true righteousness, which is not found in obedience to the Law, but in me. Fear not; your inability to keep the Law does not keep you from me. I came to be obedient on your behalf. True righteousness is not provided through the Law, but through Jesus so that the righteous live by faith.

And neither does the Lord provide through fear, so He says, “Fear not.” He does not provide money by fear of poverty. He does not provide love by fear of hatred. He does not provide life by fear of death. He does not provide salvation by fear of damnation. Perfect love casts out all fear.

And fearlessly we follow Jesus, leaving this world behind. Not confident in our intent to keep the Law or justify ourselves by our efforts, only intending to be with Jesus. For where He is, there is life and salvation. Where He is, there is forgiveness of sins. Where Jesus is, there heaven is and all the blessings of life for He is the life of the world. And here is where He si. Here, O sinful man, is your Savior. And His eyes are upon you and His ears are open to your prayers.

In Nomine + Iesu