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“At Your Word…”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Peter may call Jesus, “Master,” but it's clear that he didn't truly believe. He already had everything figured out in his own head. He knew how to fish; he was an expert. He knew that he and his partners had worked all night, using the tried-and-true methods they had most likely learned from their fathers. Somehow, there were just no fish. If they couldn’t find any fish, how could this carpenter’s Son be of help? What could this Jesus know about fishing? He was probably thinking, “Stick to preaching and teaching, Rabbi, and let the expert do his job.” Like a child who listens to and obeys his parents but still thought he knew better, he grudgingly, condescendingly said to the Lord, “Nevertheless, at your word, I will let down the nets.”
The Word of God is powerful to do exactly what He says it will do. As the Lord said through the prophet Isaiah, “As the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” The Lord tells Peter to go drop the nets in the deep water, and when he does, his boat and the boat of his partners overflow with fish to the point that the boats begin to sink—and this is after these professional fishermen hadn't caught one fish. Peter finally recognized the power of the Word of God, the power Jesus wields as the Son of God. He fell on his knees and said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” The Lord taught Peter to locate true faith in the right place: in His Word. Faith flows from the Word of God and receives what Jesus did for us by the power of the Word.
We have to repent with St. Peter too, don't we? How many times have we tried to find faith and salvation outside the words of Jesus? How many times have we tried to rely on our own reason and strength? In our sin, we've got it all figured out. We smile at our boss instead of complaining about him or posting vague condemnations on social media; we shut the computer down rather than looking at that pornographic website; we throw a vague prayer into the air to demonstrate our faith. We’ve got it figured out. We stop this sin, and God will love us. We do better, and we will catch God's favor. Do we doubt His Word and forgiveness? Our lives confess that we do.
The gift to Peter, James, and John that day was not fish. The fish were left on the shore when they left the nets to follow Jesus. The gift was faith: they received Jesus by the power of the Word. The boats would stay where they were; from now on they would fish for men. They would cast the very nets which caught them: the power of the Word of God. Our Lord sends His fishermen to preach repentance and faith, to share the good news that Jesus died to pay the price for sin. He sends His fishermen to wash those sins away with water and His Name, to make people His own children in those baptismal waters. He sends His fishermen with His own body and blood to feed and nourish that gift of faith.
And it is in those very nets that we have been caught. With water, bread, wine, and the Word of God, your pastors, fishermen sent by Jesus to speak His Word and act as His hands, have used those means to wash away your sin, to speak forgiveness to you, to feed your faith. Instead of departing from you in your sin, your Lord removes your sin. Having received these precious gifts, you are now invited and freed to follow Him. 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.