Fish in the Net
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Everything in our Gospel points us to how Christ makes salvation happen. The church is the boat. In the church is Christ, whose Word is preached to the world. In the boat, Christ's servants, humble, sinful preachers, cast the net of His Word and draw people up out of the baptismal waters and into the boat. In this world, Christ reels us in through His Gospel and Sacraments. Drawn from the waters of Holy Baptism and fed with the life-giving body and blood of Jesus, we are now safe in the boat, the church. We are drawn by His Word, feasting and feeding upon the crucified and risen Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. Just as the fish are drawn into the nets by the Word of Jesus, so we are drawn by that same Word into the church, to faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
Our thinking, our planning, our doing, our wishing and wanting and trying are all worthless. In the church, we learn that our ways are not His ways. We learn, as Elijah did, to stop worrying about ourselves and instead be concerned with the kingdom of God and the promises that the Lord Himself gives. In the church, we learn to despair of ourselves and place all of our hope and faith and trust in Christ alone. Just think: Peter is a master fisherman, but he catches nothing. Then Jesus tells him to fish in broad daylight in the deep. Then he finds a catch! So it is in our lives and in the church. Follow your own ways, devise your own plans—try to perfect your marriage, to raise your kids, to live your life on your own terms. This will give you nothing but empty nets. But hear Christ's Word: your sins are forgiven! Live by His Word. Live by His grace and mercy and promises that your nets will be full of fish. Of course this is easier said than done. That’s why Jesus gives full nets even to a sinner like Peter and promises forgiveness, life and salvation even to doubting sinners!
We agonize at times that our pews are no longer full on Sunday morning. We worry at times about our financial situation. We fret that maybe we’re doing things in a way that keeps the fish from our boat. My brothers and sisters in Christ, Peter learned that the purpose of Jesus' power was not to frighten and destroy that sinful man, but to save him. In the same way, Christ has not come to condemn you but to save you. Confess your sins! Say with Peter that you are not worthy to be anywhere near God. Then hear the words of absolution which declare your sins forgiven. Remember the baptismal water from which you were pulled and rescued from sin and death. Feast upon the body and blood of the who would have you in the churchly boat! Never mind your own plans and purposes. Rather say with Peter, "At your Word I will do it!" That's the very Word that saves us from sin and death and puts Jesus in us, the reason for our hope. Trust that Word when you look at the empty pews, at the red numbers on the financial statement, on the small number of students in Sunday School and Bible study. The Lord provides, and He does so in His way and in His time and to His glory. That’s His work. We’re just the fish.
We have been pulled from the water by the fishermen who have been commanded to do so with the nets of God's Word. Jesus has spoken His Word and brought us into this boat, His church, where He and His life-giving Word are. Our little congregation has its share of struggles and problems. In our own lives we have our share of struggles and difficulties and heartaches. Repent of trying to work all these things out yourself. Hear again the words of Jesus: "Do not be afraid." Fear not, for Jesus is the reason for the hope that is in you. Cling to Jesus and His Word. "Do not be afraid!" In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.