5TH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY, 7-5-2015
Works of Man vs. Works of God
Vicar Brad Akey


Grace, Mercy, and Peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


Have you ever thought about trying to go through life on your own? To not have a support system, to not be surrounded by people you trust, to have to do everything on your own? We can’t. We are not able to function on our own; we need to depend upon others to survive. If everything is left up to us and to our own ability, we will surely fail. This fact is often forgotten or at least taken for granted. Can a baby survive on its own? No, of course not, that is why God instituted the vocation of parents.


We all are dependent creatures, we need each other. But not only are we dependent upon each other, most of all we are dependent upon God.  Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) When we try to rely upon human means we come up short, but God would have us trust in His care and His ability to provide for us, which may not always be in the manner or time frame in which we want it.


Trusting in one’s self brings about nothing, but trusting in God’s grace is receiving the fruits of forgiveness and life eternal.

Before this miraculous catch of fish and the calling of the first disciples, Jesus defeats Satan’s temptations. He was beginning to become widely known for all of His healing and cleansing from demons. He had said “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” After Jesus acknowledges this, He called His first disciples.


Then follows what we just heard: “On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.”

It must have been a fantastic sight to see these people come from all around, because they craved the Word of God so much. But isn’t that what you are doing? You are meeting in a place where Christ promises to be in the Word and Sacraments. You are hearing His Word and we will be feasting upon His body and His blood here in a few minutes. Christ is present among us, even if we cannot see him visibly.

5TH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY, 7-5-2015
Works of Man vs. Works of God
Vicar Brad Akey


Grace, Mercy, and Peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


Have you ever thought about trying to go through life on your own? To not have a support system, to not be surrounded by people you trust, to have to do everything on your own? We can’t. We are not able to function on our own; we need to depend upon others to survive. If everything is left up to us and to our own ability, we will surely fail. This fact is often forgotten or at least taken for granted. Can a baby survive on its own? No, of course not, that is why God instituted the vocation of parents.


We all are dependent creatures, we need each other. But not only are we dependent upon each other, most of all we are dependent upon God.  Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) When we try to rely upon human means we come up short, but God would have us trust in His care and His ability to provide for us, which may not always be in the manner or time frame in which we want it.


Trusting in one’s self brings about nothing, but trusting in God’s grace is receiving the fruits of forgiveness and life eternal.

    Before this miraculous catch of fish and the calling of the first disciples, Jesus defeats Satan’s temptations. He was beginning to become widely known for all of His healing and cleansing from demons. He had said “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” After Jesus acknowledges this, He called His first disciples.


Then follows what we just heard: “On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.”


It must have been a fantastic sight to see these people come from all around, because they craved the Word of God so much. But isn’t that what you are doing? You are meeting in a place where Christ promises to be in the Word and Sacraments. You are hearing His Word and we will be feasting upon His body and His blood here in a few minutes. Christ is present among us, even if we cannot see him visibly.

 

This is true even when the rulings of our government and the actions of the people oppose God’s ways. Our Old Testament reading says, “For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” We may feel as though we are all alone in the world left floundering, but Christ is always with us and Christ is our real need.

 

When He 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.” At this point he is probably extremely tired, being awake for so long, putting in a ton of effort, probably pretty frustrated not having any of the fruits of his labor, and rationally why should anything be different? But He concedes and does what Jesus instructs. Rather than second guessing God, which we often like to do, he obeys his master, “But at your word I will let down the nets.” Now the nets are bursting. They are unable to pull the fish into a single boat; rather they must call over the partner boat to help them out. Now both boats are filled, they are filled so much they begin to sink.

 

It is now that Peter realizes who is standing in front of him and the fear that comes with it. “But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.’” Peter had taken what he and his partners had done all night and superimposed it upon this new situation. They had been fishing all night long and caught nothing. However, now the situation has changed, now God is instructing them to do it and the benefits are plentiful.

 

God said in the Epistle reading “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Peter understands who this man is now and the title which Peter uses changes. “Master, we toiled all night” has become “Depart from me… Lord.” And he realizes how he is not worthy to be in the presence of his Lord. So Peter admits to his sins and his shortcomings.

 

This is where we often trip up. Many in our society think that we can function without God. That we are the ones who do everything and so we don’t need God’s help. One common belief system is called the Watchmaker God, which is the idea that God did create the world, universe, and all of life, but now He did His task and will stand back and watch how it will tick.

 

This idea does a lot of damage to Christianity. It says that man now has the control and that everything that we do is not based upon God, but based upon ourselves, that He is not constantly part of our lives. Our sinful desire is to take God out of the picture and set ourselves up as the new god in His place. We no longer trust God, but trust ourselves, and what we think. We forget that without God we are unable to do anything, even survive. If we are left to function completely on our own, we will die.The power of man ultimately brings about nothing but sin and destruction.  

 

Even though Peter does mention how so far they have been unsuccessful, he does state that because Jesus is the one who is saying this, they will go out and try again. Now we see the power of God. Man produces nothing, but with the Word of God, amazing, miraculous, and wonderful things happen in catching men. This is what the office of the ministry is called to do – use the Word of God to bring salvation to unworthy sinners.


Man has sinned, as Peter admitted in this text. Man has fallen short and we do not deserve to be in our Lord’s presence, let alone to receive His love and forgiveness. We may not deserve it but we need it. We need His constant presence. We are dependent on Him. If man were to try to save himself, working outside of God, and earning our way to heaven, we will fall short every time. “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”

 

All we have earned is the wrath of our Lord and the eternal damnation which comes along with it. But God does not leave us alone to struggle for ourselves. That is why He sent Peter and the apostles to proclaim His Word. That is why He sends out laborers into the harvest field today. “We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”


Luther notes in one of his sermons on this text that Peter did very well earlier. That Peter had thrown out his reason and listened to the Word of God to throw out the net again. Despite all his experience as a fisherman, he placed more emphasis upon the Word of God. However, now Luther notes how Peter places more emphasis upon the sinfulness of himself rather than upon the forgiveness and salvation which Christ brings. So when Peter told Christ to depart from him, I’m very happy that Christ did not. That He did not leave Peter and all of us alone, but rather stayed and did His holy and mysterious work on the cross. But not only did Christ not abandon Peter, rather He declared Absolution on him when Christ tells him not to be afraid!

 

When Jesus says that He will make Peter and the others with him into fishers of men, this is what Christ is talking about. If the disciples would go out and collect people with their wisdom, they would fail. But they do it for God’s purpose, and with God’s Word then God will fill the nets. “The abundance of fish is a foretaste of the success of the Gospel mission” (Just, Luke of Concordia Commentary Series). The power of Christcrucified and risen is what is needed to bring people to faith, in the same way that the power of Christ is what was needed to catch that multitude of fish.

 

Just as with the fish, when man attempts to do something apart from God, nothing good happens, but with God wonderful and miraculous things can and will happen. Christ taught the people from the boat, and even after His ascension He continues to teach us here and now. He did not just give us a book of His teachings and leave it up to us to tick away like a watch. He teaches us with His Word and He is with us in our daily work. We are called to be fully dependent upon Him. As we sang the words of Jesus in the hymn of the day, “I am the light, I light the way… I will keep your feet from straying.” (688 v2)

 

God fishes for those in the shallows and in those in the deep and for those who are buried in the mud of sin and despair. No matter how desperate your situation, God desires you in His net! He has called fishers of men to pull the Word of God through this world. He has caught you in the waters at your baptism! He has called all of us to confess Christ crucified in our place in life. As He tells Peter, “Do not be afraid” so He tells us as well. When we feel lost and insecure, “Do not be afraid.” When we feel alone and in danger as Elijah did, “Do not be afraid.” When the world’s wisdom labels God’s Word as foolish, “Do not be afraid.” Christ is with us, He absolves us, and He guides us to life everlasting.

 

Without God, man brings about sin and our own destruction. With God is where life and salvation come into our lives. Trusting in one’s self brings about nothing, but trusting inGod’s grace is receiving the fruits of forgiveness and life eternal.

 

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a