The Fifth Sunday after Trinity, 2011
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time
The Hymn # 199 Jesus Christ is Risen 1:83
The Confession of Sins
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #200 I Know that My Redeemer 1:80
Material and Spiritual Provision
The Communion Hymn # 187 Christ Is Arisen 1:45
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn # 195 (Luther) Christ Jesus 1:46
KJV 1 Peter 3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: 9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. 10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. 13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? 14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
KJV Luke 5:1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. 4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: 10 And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. 11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.
Fifth Sunday After Trinity
O Jesus Christ, Thou Son of the living God, who hast given us Thy holy word, and hast bountifully provided for all our temporal wants, we confess that we are unworthy of all these mercies, and that we have rather deserved punishment: But we beseech Thee, forgive us our sins, and prosper and bless us in our several callings, that by Thy strength we may be sustained and defended, now and forever, and so praise and glorify Thee eternally, Thou who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.
Material and Spiritual Provision
KJV Luke 5:1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.
Some will find it tempting to bypass the opening of the Gospel to move on to the miracle of the fish being caught.
The first three verses are the important part. “And He sat down and taught the people out of the ship.”
We are accustomed to having the speaker stand up, but rabbis sat down to teach. That is stated in the opening of the Sermon on the Mount.
KJV Matthew 5:1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
Many Lutherans, when they want to teach about Luther, describe his life and various events where he was prominent. Luther saw his primary role as preaching. His proclamation of the Gospel expressed his own faith and his knowledge of the Scriptures.
The Bible teaches this relationship between the Holy Spirit, the Father and Son. The Holy Spirit is always united with the Word, as Isaiah 55:8-11 shows. Because the Holy Spirit works only through the Word, the Holy Spirit cannot work apart from the Word.
Any other perspective on how God works is an attack on the Holy Trinity, on the majesty of God.
We have been watching many films about the Tudor monarchs (Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary, Elizabeth I). This is a frequent phrase – and against his majesty.
I thought majesty was just a synonym for king or queen, and it might well be. But they often said, “Against the king and his majesty.” Because the monarchs believed in the divinity of their role, that God placed them on the throne, any attempt to overthrow the king or queen was a personal attack “against the king” but also a religious attack “against his divinely appointed task.” Plotting to kill the king was going against God’s will.
Whether you are a monarchist or not, God’s Word has that majesty. The Scriptures rule over all men and all books. The Bible judges all books, so we call it the ruling norm. (The Confessions are the ruled norm, subordinate to the Scriptures.)
Questioning God’s Word and teaching against it is a crime against His Majesty.
KJV Isaiah 66:2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.
When Jesus taught, it was not His own opinion or Word, but the will and the work of His Father, conveyed through the Holy Spirit. Although most of the references in the New Testament are to the Father/Son relationship, the Holy Spirit’s role in teaching, preaching, prayer, and the sacraments is always implied and sometimes emphasized.
Those who think God accomplishes evangelism through a new fellowship hall are gravely mistaken. They are really using the phony religious excuse to justify pleasing their Old Adam. And they are told, because I have heard this, “More people will come because of the building. People will give more, because of the construction work.”
I had a little mission in Sturgis, Michigan, where the members were still saying, 20 years later, “People said they would come to us when we had the building up. Where are they?” So I asked them, “Do you really believe in brick-and-mortar evangelism while doing nothing about the Word?” We began doing everything around the Word, broadcasting the Word, offering classes to the community about basic Christianity. Pastoral visitation was constant, and members began visiting each other’s homes, something that had not happened in a small town.
I see that people are still being asked the wrong questions about the worship service and about their congregations. Efficacy is assigned to everything except the Word of God, so all the emphasis is placed upon method, friendliness, freshness, happy-clappiness, and emotionalism.
God can take care of things faster and better than a monarch, because He is the true ruler of the universe. Those who attack the Holy Spirit by substituting their methods, gimmicks, and tricks will always be denied the one thing they desire the most. They are going to give the Gospel to the whole world, they tell us, and end up as open or secret atheists. Sometimes their empires collapse around them. Or they find their fame working against them when caught traveling with partners rather than spouses.
In This Lesson
We can see that Jesus had only the Word, lacking the required friendly ushers, greeters, parking lots, valet parking, and rock band. He pushed out from the shore and taught, because He could address a large crowd that way. The Holy Spirit was at work, both in the teaching and the reception of the Word.
The first part of this Gospel is significant, because people began to believe in Christ through His preaching.
To this day, Jesus comes to us through the Word and only through the Word. The Holy Spirit brings us together, through the Means of Grace, which must have their effect.
There are two prominent effects of this preaching in a short lesson. One is the faith of the fishermen. Because of the Word of God, they trusted in Jesus more than in themselves. He told them to cast their nets again. Simon Peter explained, “We are professionals. We have fished all out lives, and our fathers and grandfathers before us. We worked hard all night and caught nothing. But, because of your majestic command, which we trust more than ourselves, we will try again.” (Jackson Living Translation)
Faith in God is powerful, because it takes us away from trusting in ourselves. Only God’s Word can do that. On our own, we trust in ourselves to have the best answers. That is why God allows us to be humbled, to sink in our own foolishness, until we say, “Help, have mercy. You alone can solve this, gracious heavenly Father.”
We can have brilliant insights on our own, deep spiritual insights – all of them rubbish. The world is full of religions based upon the insights of a few charismatic individuals. This is Enthusiasm, whether it is cannibalism in one country or worshiping body parts in another. The entire papacy is a beautiful but deadly structure of Enthusiasm.
Our Old Adam defaults to Enthusiasm, so we have to be watchful about the pure Word of God, so it is not turned into an amalgam, Word of God/Word of man. Mercury and gold bond to each other instantly. If you want to ruin a ring made of gold, play with mercury and see that happen.
Faith in God is good, because God creates it through His Holy Spirit working in the Word. To overcome our obstinate self-centeredness is a miracle in itself. The composer of the Music Man called it “Iowa stubborn,” doing the opposite of whatever is suggested.
God overwhelms our obstinacy with His gracious promises. The more obdurate we are, the more we recognize how powerful the Word of God is, powerful in grace and mercy. Thus Paul, Augustine, and Luther were the greatest exponents of God’s grace, knowing how much they resisted until the Word converted them.
Nevertheless at Thy Word I will let down the net.
This is faith in God’s Word, a trust created by the Holy Spirit.
The Miraculous Catch
Jesus might have given Simon Peter and the others just enough fish to feed their families for a short time. That alone would have been good, not perhaps not enough to overcome fishing professionals. They could say, “Oh, we just should have waited a little longer until the fish came out to play. I’m glad we tried again. Hard work – that always does the job.”
Many people do that. God gives us favors and blessings and we say, “I was really smart. Look at what I did.”
But in this case, God sent them an enormous catch of fish.
6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.
…In Luke, where Simon is the person dealt with, he is treated as one who has already been called and is assured that he will, indeed, catch men with the success shown to him in the great catch of fish when he obeyed Jesus’ word. This is the purpose of the miracle: an ocular demonstration of the unseen power and success of the Word. This miracle was therefore repeated after Jesus’ resurrection (John 21:1–14), and the repetition cannot be understood in its import without this miracle which is recorded in Luke’s Gospel. It was one thing to call the four apostles, it was quite another thing to demonstrate to them the power of the gospel they were to handle as fishers of men. And this demonstration was so necessary in view of the Jewish and the pagan world they were to conquer that Jesus repeated it for them before he ascended to heaven.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Luke's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 276
The Professionals Were Wrong
Peter already had faith in Jesus. That is why they cast their nets again. But Jesus confirmed that faith and deepened that faith with the size of the catch. As Lenski noted, above, that was confirmed with the catch in John 21. The purpose was to show Peter what he would be doing with the Word, catching men in the net of the Gospel.
KJV John 21:14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead. 15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
Peter denied Jesus three times before the charcoal family. Jesus gave him a three-fold absolution before a charcoal fire.
Twice we are here told that it was “the third time” that Jesus asked Peter. The hint in the first question, “more than these,” connecting this catechism with Peter’s denial, is here clinched. Three times Peter denied Jesus; it is proper that now in this public absolution and reinstatement he should confess him and own his love for him three times in succession. This is the true implication in the repeated adverbial accusative “the third time.”
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. John's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 1425
Next Effect of the Word
Peter realized the majesty of Christ when he fell down before Him and said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” Everyone was astonished at the catch. Peter knew he was with God Himself, although he did not realize the full implications of that faith and knowledge. Later he would show his frailty in many ways, yet Jesus continued to strengthen him and restore him with the Gospel.
Not Fear, But Faith
Luke 5: 10b And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. 11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.
Spiritual and Material Blessings
The point of this miracle is to show us how the material blessings and spiritual blessings of God go together.
Fear keeps many Lutherans from doing what they should. Fear is strange, because it is seldom based upon facts and never upon faith in the Word. For instance, most people will run screaming from a bat, but bats are beautiful and harmless creatures. Their airborne sonar keeps them from running into people. When I first saw one fly at me in a church basement, I was shaken. Once I learned about them, I looked forward to seeing them close up. They were like fireflies in the backyard each night.
But, given the facts, God can change those facts in a moment, as He did with the catch of fish. For instance, the moment Chris lost her insurance coverage from work, we found an equivalent package from the place where I worked. I happened to know an expert who was the only one who could provide that kind of comprehensive knowledge. But I never knew that, could not have known that.
When we moved to Minnesota, a promise about coverage was broken. But it was a state where a special plan allowed excellent coverage under disability for a very good price. Thus it has continued, with the biggest fear today (medical coverage) countered by one happenstance after another. Or, as Tokien often asked, “Was it by chance?”
Effects of the Word
The Word of God is always effective. The more we teach and apply it, the more we see its effects. If some church leader says, “I can make the Word effective, or more effective,” he is schemer and liar, someone to avoid.
I find it strange that ministers trust in the value of plagiarizing the poofy sermons of a Methodist while distrusting a Biblical expert like Lenski. Why would they not want to enjoy the study of Luther’s work and crafting an original sermon each week?
Did Peter plagiarize from the neighboring pagans, who were far more successful at the time?
Some effects seem bad. People get angry and vindictive. But that is only because the Word has upset them. Being disturbed by the Word of God is one step toward conversion. The apathetic do not think about the Word. Agitated people go over, in their minds, what disturbed them.
Paul was so disturbed by the Gospel that he aggressively persecuted it. In turn, he was met with revenge, beatings, and riots where he went.
The most important effect of the Word is justification by faith. The Gospel of reconciliation must be taught for people to have faith in Jesus. As one reader observed in an email last night, the atonement is one action by God. Jesus paid for the sins of the world.
Justification by faith is another, separate action, one brought about by the Word. The atonement is preached and taught, creating and sustaining faith in Jesus. This faith receives the Gospel promises and all their benefits.
UOJ false teachers make hay with “not counting their sins against them.”
KJV 2 Corinthians 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
The rationalists say, “Oh, here it says the whole world is reckoned (counted) as righteous. That means the every single person has been forgiven.”
That is a nice misdirection of the eye, a trick used by magicians. Watch one hand while the other is palming the coin or moving the mirror. Cary Grant was fired from his first stage job for moving the spotlight beam onto the mirrors below. There was no appeal. (His autobiography, http://www.archieleach.com/)
But the Bible is quite clear about how WE are reckoned righteous.
KJV Romans 4:24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
If 2 Cor. 5:19 is combined with Romans 4:25 alone, UOJ seems to be a sure thing. But when the spotlight beam is broadened to show the entire picture, we can see the truth.
From justification by faith come all our blessings, chiefly in our family. Those blessings are impossible to measure. All the fruits of the Christian faith come from justification by faith, from the Means of Grace.
And God feeds our stomachs, too.