Fishers of Men + Luke 5:1-11
The crowd was pressing in on Jesus, they wanted to hear the Word of God. They wanted Jesus to preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God to them. Jesus had preached to others and the crowds wanted to hear the same message. Jesus had come to preach the Good News to the poor, that they would be rich. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are we, for we have been purchased from sin, death and the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with Jesus’ precious blood and with His holy, innocent, bitter suffering and death. We are richly blessed, the goodness and mercy of God follow us all the days of our life.
Jesus had come to preach the Good News to the slaves, that they would be set free from their bondage to sin, death and the power of the devil. Jesus came to preach liberty to the captives. Jesus came to pay the price that was owed for the sins of the world. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus did not come to condemn sinners but to save them. By His death on the cross, Jesus’ blood sets us free to be people of God. We are free to love God, calling upon His name in every time of trouble, through prayer, worship and the giving of thanks. We are free to love God as we have first been loved.
Jesus came to give sight to the blind. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are those who taste and see that the Lord is good, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love forever. Jesus came to give the gift of faith, that we would fear, love and trust in Him. Jesus came to preach liberty to the oppressed. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Jesus came to make us lie down in green pastures, to restore our soul. Blessed are we when others revile us and persecute us and utter all kinds of evil against us falsely. Forgiveness of sins, life and eternal salvation belong to those who believe and are baptized. The Lord’s favor is up us, He never leaves us nor forgets about us.
This is what the crowd wanted to hear. This is what they wanted to be sure of. This is why they wanted to get as close to Jesus as possible. They believed that the Word of God is active and alive, accomplishing what it was spoken to do. Jesus and the crowd were near Lake Gennesaret. Jesus got in the boat, that Simon Peter had left by the shore, and this is what He preached to the crowd. Jesus preached the kingdom of God to the crowd. The Spirit of the Lord is upon Jesus, He has been anointed by God the Father to proclaim the Good News to the poor, liberty to captives, give sight to the blind, set at liberty those who are oppressed, proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” Because of what Jesus preached, Simon did what Jesus said. Even though Simon had caught nothing all night, even though his nets were already clean and put away, Simon believed the Good News of Salvation that Jesus came to make known to the nations and he let down his nets for a catch. And when Simon had done this, he enclosed a large number of fish, and the nets were breaking. Simon signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help. And they came and filled both boats, that they began to sink. But when Simon saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” And Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”
Simon, who would become Saint Peter, was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, one of Jesus first pastors. He proclaimed the truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. And many believed and were baptized because of the message that Peter, James, John and Andrew, those first pastors of Jesus, those fishers of men proclaimed.
So it is with all pastors, we are all sinful men. Every pastor who has preached and taught and baptized and forgave sins and distributed the Lord’s body and blood here at Trinity and at Immanuel and throughout the world, were sinful men. Like Saint Peter, we proclaim, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” We do not deserve to be in God’s presence. We do not deserve to hear the message of God’s kingdom. We do not deserve to make known the message of God’s kingdom. Just as Jesus said to SImon so He says to me and all pastors, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”
Because of what Jesus told Peter, James, John and Andrew to do, to catch men, you and I are here in the church, we have been brought into the boat with Jesus. That is why the area of the church with the pews, where you are now sitting, is referred to as the nave. The word nave means boat. You have been caught with the nets of the Good News of God’s kingdom. The nets are the message of God’s kingdom, that He desires for us to preach and teach in all truth and purity. You are gathered into the boat. You are with Jesus in the boat, in the one holy Christian and apostolic church. You hear the message that Jesus desires to make known. Daily you are reminded of your baptism, daily dying and rising with Jesus. You have been removed from the ways of the world. You have been brought into the kingdom of God. You eat the body of Jesus, given for us on the cross, there is life in you. You have drunk the blood of Jesus, shed on the cross, your have forgiveness of sins.
Thanks be to God for the pastors who left all to go to the seminary, learning how it is in the kingdom of God. Thanks be to God for the pastors who baptized you, bringing you into the boat of the church. Thanks be to God for the pastors who preached from the pulpit every Sunday. Thanks be to God for the pastors who taught you from a young age the simple truths of the Small Catechism. Thanks be to God for the pastors who forgave your sins, bringing you back into the boat after you tried to jump out. Thanks be to God for the pastors who made sure you received the very body and blood of Jesus for the strengthening of your faith, that you would be kept in the boat of the Christian Church. Thanks be to God that you are Jesus’ fish, that you have been caught with the net of Jesus’ Word and Sacraments. God grant this to us all. Amen.