Fifth Sunday after Trinity
“From Now On”
Rev. Jacob Sutton, Pastor
St. Luke 5.1-11
12 July 2020
+ In the Name of Jesus +
…And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. (St. Luke 5.10-11; ESV)
Brothers and Sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Cable News Network (CNN) anchor Don Lemon said this week on his show to fellow anchor Chris Cuomo that, “Jesus Christ, if that’s who you believe in, Jesus Christ, admittedly was not perfect when he was here on this earth.”
Mr. Cuomo went on to say in one of his programs, “If you believe in one another, and if you do the right thing for yourself and for your community, things will get better in this country. You don’t need help from above,” he said, “It’s within us.”
Why we might ask are Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo, and your college professors (many of them), and so many others today who have never cracked open a bible, why are they so afraid of the Lord Jesus Christ? They want to bring Jesus down to their own level – they would rather not confront the risen Lord Jesus standing in front of them – not like Peter in the boat reacted out of a holy fear of God’s presence – but because they fear that there is another god then themselves.
That’s the level of knowledge, care, and concern for the Gospel out there. Jesus is not perfect. Believe in yourself. You do the right thing. You don’t need help from above. It’s the religion of the Law, of works, of never knowing if you have anything at all to look forward to after this life ends, it’s the religion of being one’s own god.
That’s the level of knowledge, care, and concern out there for the Christian faith you confess here! Yet, you have confessed against these voices today: One Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made…
And then we continue to the phrase the devil himself cringes to hear: …who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary… where we then bow the knee, or I hope, at least your head, at these most holy of words: And was made man. Crucified. Suffered. Buried. Risen. Ascended. Coming again with glory. His kingdom will have no end.
Do not be afraid. Says Jesus to St. Peter, confronted by the miracle catch of fish. Confronted by the God-Man we confess. Do not be afraid for I have come down from heaven, Peter, but I will not and I cannot out of love for you and for all humanity depart from you, not even if you are unclean, a sinner, a leper, a tax collector, a prostitute, a gentile, a Jew, red, yellow, black, or white, or a person testing positive for a virus.
Do not be afraid. Chris Cuomo. Don Lemon. Or you, this precious, scattered, tossed to and fro by the winds of the devil himself in 2020 flock of Jesus Christ of Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, Terre Haute, Indiana. Do not listen to the voices of this world and their source. Listen to the God-Man, Jesus Christ, speaking from that boat on the sea that day: Do not be afraid. You are God’s elect, God’s chosen, holy, royal nation. So was St. Peter in that boat. Jesus would not pay attention to Peter’s attempt at piety – “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Why?
Because Peter was the true Israel, the elect of God from before the foundation of the world, called to be one of a holy, royal nation who serves the Lord of all on this earth with all that he is and has. Not because Peter had done any particular thing to merit this – but he was God’s man at that time and that place God had chosen to follow the Lord Jesus, and to learn from Him, and to eventually give all, even unto death, for the sake of the Gospel.
From now on you will be catching men. This is Peter’s “baptism” in the sea – at Jesus’ word, Peter is no longer a fisherman who catches fish for a living. At God’s Word, He is Jesus’ man, a disciple, an apostle, a witness to all our Lord did for us men, and for our salvation. He is delivered, sealed for heaven. The Gospel he preaches will deliver and seal many saints for heaven, and still does to this day.
At your Baptism, Jesus said the same thing to you through the water and the Word. Do not be afraid, from now on… from now on, you are no longer a slave of the devil, no longer one with the unclean spirit, but you are God’s child, God’s elect, God’s adopted heir. From now on you are named with the name above every name, you are one with Him who bears the lovely name of Jesus Christ. From now on, you are untied with Him in a death like His, so that you will be united with Him in a resurrection like His.
Do not be afraid. From now on… things have changed. Eternally changed. You have been given help from above! You have the thing Peter was called to preach: eternal life in Christ our Lord. You belong to Jesus. You do not belong to the doubt and fear in your heart and mind and in so many hearts and minds today.
Do not be afraid. From now on… Jesus has made you His own dear child, and nothing can take you away from Him or His eternal blessing and care. Not catching a virus. Not dying because of a virus. Not unrest and discord and sinister forces at work to destabilize our nation, culture, and civilized society. Not death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
For I consider, Paul wrote, that the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us!
For the creation waits with eager longing – eager longing! – for the revealing of the sons of God. In all these things, said the Apostle who suffered more abuse than any other for the Gospel, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8.18-19; 37-39)
Peter himself writes years later, facing his own death by crucifixion: Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Even if you should suffer a lot of things – you will be blessed by God, with the promised salvation in Jesus Christ. You have that help from above! Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, said Peter, but in your hearts, honor Christ the Lord as holy. (1 Peter 3.13-15)
Don’t take my word for it that Peter and Paul were good to these words of comfort. These men went to the death for these words. To sword and upside down crucifixion in Rome. Take St. Luke’s word for it too: And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything, and followed Him.
From now on, they did not fear the world, the harm of the world, the stupidity of the world, and did not join any longer in the fear and trepidation the world shows at the drop of God’s hat concerning the judgment that is surely drawing near, just as our Lord Jesus said the unbelieving world will.
No, from now on, from that boat on the Sea of Galilee, from that road to Damascus, Peter and Paul were from now on God’s children, God’s men, God’s preachers. They were baptized into Jesus just as you were. You’ll see them in heaven, along with many others God has called home.
Andrew Keller, vicar unique beyond all others perhaps, because we have faced a year unlike any other: you are in just a few short weeks, to be defined by God again as you were in your Baptism, your Marriage, and when God gave you and your wife the gift of a son. This time, at His Word, through His Holy Church, you will take up Elijah’s cloak, burn the oxen yoke of anything you used to do for a living, and turn the hand to the plow of the sword of the Spirit, to preach and teach the living, saving, life-giving Word of God. Hear the words of Dr. Luther to us concerning Peter’s example set by the Lord for being in this apostolic office:
“Not only should the shepherds tend without repayment, but they should also expect the prophets’ reward for it, as the Lord tells Peter as an example to all others, ‘Peter, if you love me, tend my sheep! The reward you should expect here on earth shall be this: you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, another will gird you and carry you where you do not want to go.’ (John 21.17–18) See, dear brother, what it is to tend Christ’s sheep: to serve and preach the gospel freely, and to expect for it to be girded and carried – that is, to hazard and wager body, wife, child, goods, and everything. Who would do this unless he loved Christ and did it for his sake? …We shall just have to accept this danger, and see, know, and expect bitter, venomous, devilish wrath, gnashing of teeth, and flashing of knives. If we are doing this for money or goods, for honor or sensual pleasures, then we are the most senseless people upon whom the sun has shone…since the beginning of the world.” (Martin Luther, Against the Roman Papacy)
Dear brother in Christ,
You are being sent to Reynolds to be the one who proclaims the message of the gospel which brings the people of God the forgiveness of sins and opens heaven’s very doors for them. To catch men alive with a Word from God. Martin Franzmann said not to be the silk scarf of flashy brilliance that men admire, but to be the rough wool blanket that gives the warmth and life people need. The pastor is trying to shepherd his hearers to heaven. That is full of hope for today and tomorrow! It needs to be heard! In many places!
Do not fear, Andrew, from now on: Pastor Keller, go to be a fisher of men alive, with God’s blessing and our prayers that the Lord will fulfill His promises and mightily bless His saving Word in Reynolds.
+ In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit +