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The Call

February 6, 2022 Speaker: Rev. Jack Meehan Series: Being SJLC 2022

Topic: Biblical Verse: Luke 5:1–5:11

The Fifth Sunday after Epiphany

Serving Jesus-Living in Community 2022

February 6, 2022

Luke 5:1-11

 “The Call”

What started off as a regular day last Monday changed dramatically in the afternoon. At first it was one phone call, then a whole bunch of phone calls, together with lots of emails and text messages. Everyone had the same question: “Did you send out this email that I got from you?” The short answer is no, I did not. This was all a scam called “spoofing.” “In cybersecurity, ‘spoofing’ is when fraudsters pretend to be someone or something else to win a person’s trust. The motivation is usually to gain access to systems, steal data, steal money, or spread malware” (What is Spoofing & How to Prevent it | Kaspersky). And that’s what happened. Someone pretending to be me did that to you. And so I say thank you for checking in with me or the church office. Many of you said, “It just didn’t sound like you.” It can happen to anyone. So if you get that call from someone you know who says, “Did you send that email?”, pay attention. Now, let’s talk about a different sort of call – the one from Jesus to Peter in today’s Gospel lesson. Instead of focusing on “phishing,” let’s talk about fishing. Based on the Gospel lesson, today’s message is entitled, “The Call.” May the Lord’s rich and abundant blessing rest upon the preaching, the hearing, and the living of his Word for Jesus’ sake.

We have two calls in today’s Scripture lessons. The first is from the Lord God to Isaiah, which is today’s Old Testament lesson (Isaiah 6:1-8). In the presence of Almighty God, Isaiah despaired because of his own and his people’s sinful condition. Forgiven and restored through that burning coal taken from the altar, Isaiah answer’s the Lord’s call: “Here I am! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8b). In today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus is standing by the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Lake of Gennesaret, or the Sea of Tiberias. Because of the crowd that was pressing in on him to hear what he was preaching, Jesus got into a boat and taught the crowd from there. We’re not actually told what Jesus taught here, but what follows is vitally important.

Then as now, fishing was done around sunset or in the very early hours of the morning. Simon Peter was a seasoned fisherman and made his living from the waters of the Sea of Galilee. So it may seem a little odd when Jesus, who grew up in a carpenter’s workshop, tells Peter, the seasoned fisherman, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4). Peter could have made a very snarky reply here, but what he said was this: “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:5). Jesus called Peter to do the counter-intuitive thing; to do the very opposite of what he thought was the right course of action. Peter does express some misgiving, but he follows through with obedience to what Jesus directed him to do. And that’s the lesson for us. Jesus sometimes (maybe oftentimes) calls us to do the counter-intuitive thing in our lives. But isn’t Scripture filled with examples of how God called his people to do things like this? Build an ark when it wasn’t raining (Genesis 6:11ff.). March around a city for seven days in order to take it (Joshua 6:1ff.). Anoint a young shepherd to be king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1ff.). Accomplish salvation by sending God-in-the-flesh as a baby (Luke 2:1ff.). You’d think we would understand this better than we do, but the truth is, we don’t. Every generation – every believer – has to learn the lesson that God does things differently than we do. We have to be willing to get over ourselves. We have to humble ourselves, let go of the control, and let God be God. Can we do this? Will we do this?

After following Jesus’ instructions, Peter finds that something beyond extraordinary happens. So many fish were now caught in the nets that the nets themselves began to break! And Peter’s fishing partners had to be called over with another boat to haul in the enormous catch of fish. In fact, there were so many fish that the two boats started to sink. It must have been an incredible moment for everyone involved, but Peter recognizes that this is beyond what humans could engineer. This event has only come about from the Lord. Again and again in Scripture, when sinful human beings find themselves in the presence of the holy God, there is an overwhelming sense of fear, like that of Isaiah in today’s Old Testament lesson. Peter’s response reflects this fear and holy awe: “he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord’” (Luke 5:8).

Note that Jesus doesn’t address Peter’s sense of his own sinfulness. He moves on to something more important. Jesus doesn’t leave Peter hanging; uncertain of where he stands. Jesus reassures Peter with these words of comfort and calling: “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men” (Luke 5:10). “Do not be afraid” – those words were not just for Peter, but are for each and every one of us today. We are afraid of so many things in life – fear of change, fear of the future, fear of being alone. We can be paralyzed by that fear if we allow this to take over our lives. Jesus calls us to something far better. By his life and ministry, by his death and resurrection, Jesus has purchased the full and free forgiveness of all our sins, and in so doing, Jesus has opened a new door for Peter and for us. Jesus says to each one of us today: “Do not be afraid.” Jesus moves us from wallowing in our own sinfulness, our own fear, to serve a greater purpose. He calls us to become fishers of men and of women, of youth and children. Jesus calls us to become fishers of all people. This doesn’t mean that you have to go half-way around the world to a different culture and people to do this. Jesus calls us to be his witnesses in everyday life where we already are. Jesus calls us to be his everyday missionaries in all the places where he has called us to be.

Jesus calls us to put out into the deep in our own lives today. Like Peter, we may have misgivings. We may hesitate to do what Jesus is calling us to do. We may think we know better. The question for us is: will we do what Jesus asks us to do? We can choose to dwell in the land of fear; always wondering “What if?” Or, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can choose to do what Jesus asks us to do. That, of course, involves risk, and we may be adverse to taking risks. What if this doesn’t work out? What if I’m not prepared for all that’s ahead? What if…? The simple truth is that when Jesus calls us, he also provides what is needed for the way ahead. We are not left alone to fend for ourselves. Jesus himself is with us even to the end of the world (Matthew 28:20).

Perhaps the most amazing thing in this entire account is the response of Simon Peter, James and John: “And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him” (Luke 5:11). We may well ask ourselves: could I do that? Would I just leave everything behind and follow Jesus? Discipleship involves following, and that will likely look different in each of our lives as Jesus leads us day by day. This same Jesus who accomplished this miraculous catch of fish on the Sea of Galilee is the same Jesus who loves us and laid down his life on the cross for us. From this relationship of life and love, Jesus calls us to trust that he knows what he’s doing, even if we don’t. And it all begins with that invitation: “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4). Let the fishing begin! Amen.

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