Trinity 5 2023

Trinity 5 2023
July 9, 2023

INTRO. Jesus absolves Peter. Peter was right to be afraid. He was a sinful man and he was in a boat with the sinless Son of God. But Jesus says to him: “Don’t be afraid,” which is to say, “I won’t destroy you. I am here for you, because I love you, I come to bear your sins and make you clean.” Jesus then immediately commissions Peter. He says to him: “From now on you catch men.” Peter is changed by the absolution. He is not left in some neutral position or given the great catch of fish to make him wealthy. The fish were a threat. They exposed his unworthiness. They were sinking the boats. But Jesus commanded that Peter stop being afraid and so he stopped. Fish don’t matter and if one is forgiven and lives by the grace of God and is part of His kingdom, then neither does bodily death. According to this grace, by the absolution, Peter sees the world as it truly is. Fish don’t matter because they aren’t eternal. Bodily life doesn’t matter because the soul is eternal and there will be a resurrection on the last day when those who believe in Jesus will be welcomed into heavenly mansions and given a new earth as their reward.

THESIS. Part of what we should learn from this miracle is summarized in the hymn. If we trust in God to guide us, that is, if we believe that He is actually in control, that He knows what He is doing, that He is purposeful and is not leaving us to our own devices, but is driving us a shepherd drives sheep toward His pen, then He will see us through. He will give us the strength that is needed to endure. These evil days and our various sorrows which even now are purging us of our love of material things and idols will end. And even now, we can have the peace that passes all understanding, the joy that does not end, contentment and confidence even as we suffer evil and strive to serve our neighbors. For the end is absolutely assured and we should not be afraid. For God never yet forsook in need the soul that trusted Him indeed.

I. THE MIRACLE and the HYMN

A. Peter working all night without gain.

What can these anxious cares avail thee,
These never ceasing moans and sighs?
What can it help if thou bewail thee
O’er each dark moment as it flies?
Our cross and trials do but press the heavier for our bitterness.

Wisdom: complaining makes it worse. These things are temporary.

B. Peter taking the risk of faith: letting down the net

Be patient and await His leisure
In cheerful hope, with heart content
To take whate’er thy Father’s pleasure
And His discerning love hath sent,
Nor doubt our inmost wants are known
To Him who chose us for His own.

Wisdom: the love of God is discerning. He sends crosses for our good. We accept this in faith. Pray away. Express your inmost wants. That is not just your privilege but also your duty. Now listen to the next stanza:

God knows full well when times of gladness
Shall be the needful thing for thee.
When He has tried they should with sadness
And from all guild has found thee free
He comes to thee all unaware
And makes thee own His loving care.

He knows what is good for you. Your inmost wants are often confused. He will give you relief at the proper time, like Peter getting a record catch. But Peter discovers that wasn’t what he really wanted. What he really wanted, what all men really want and need and were created for is fellowship with God. He wants to be restored to God’s image, to be loved by God. Suddenly, fish don’t matter.

II. FINAL ADVICE

Sing, pray, and keep His ways unswerving,
Perform thy duties faithfully,
And trust His Word; though undeserving,
Thou yet shall find it true for thee.
God never yet forsook in need
The soul that trusted Him indeed.

It is true that you don’t deserve God’s favor. You are no less sinful than Peter. And it may well seem now, in these evil days, that God’s Word is not true for you. But it is true. He doesn’t lie. His love isn’t driven by your worthiness but by His own goodness. He is love. He made us for love. He loves us. No man has love like this. The best we might do is lay down our lives for our friends, for our country, for something good. But He lays down His life for us who were His enemies and makes us, who were no people, His people.

Your Baptism is no small thing. There He laid His claim upon you, called you by His name, added you to His family, bestowed His Spirit, crucified and raised you with Christ. That is a promise you can trust, that is worth waiting for, that shows that fish don’t matter, that bodily life doesn’t matter, that Jesus, who lives, matters and He says to you, “Don’t be afraid. Follow Me.”

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