The Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
February 10, 2019
Because You Say So, Lord!
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. (NIV1984)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
There were times when I was growing up when I was told to do something that I did not really want to do. There were also times when I was told not to do something that I really wanted to do. And if I asked the question, “Why?” there were times when my Mom or my Dad would simply say— “Because I say so!” I never liked that answer. But guess what? There have been times when I have told one of our children or one of our grandchildren to do something that they didn’t really want to do, there have been times when I have told one of our children or one of our grandchildren not to do something that they really wanted to do and when they asked me the question “Why?” I told them— “Because I say so!” I don’t think they liked that answer!
Because of the rebelliousness of our old sinful nature we don’t always appreciate it when we have to do something or when we can’t do something simply because someone else says so. I am sure you can all think of specific examples of this whether it be at home, at work or at school. Unfortunately, the rebelliousness of our old sinful nature can also cause serious problems in our personal relationship with our Lord. All too often we must confess along with the apostle Paul, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do— this I keep on doing…What a wretched man I am!” (Romans 7:18-19, 24)
In our sermon text for today we are going to look at an example of how our love for Jesus and how our trust in Jesus gives us the ability to listen to our Lord and humbly say: Because You Say So Lord! There are two applications we want to make today. First, let’s see how our love for Jesus and our trust in Jesus leads us to listen to our Lord and humbly say: Because you say so Lord, I will take the time to nourish my soul! Then let’s see how our love for Jesus and our trust in Jesus leads us to listen to our Lord and humbly say: Because you say so Lord, I will follow you!
Last week we heard how the people of Nazareth responded to Jesus’ gracious message with angry unbelief. Jesus, however, was still very well received in other parts of Galilee. Luke gives testimony to this fact when he says in our text, “One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret (another name for the Sea of Galilee) with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.”
We know from the Gospel of John (1:35-42) that Peter, James and John had already been brought to believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Promised Messiah. At this time, however, these men were still making their living by fishing the Sea of Galilee.
Now, try to picture the situation described for us here in our text. Peter and the other men had spent all night fishing. In the morning after a long, hard, fruitless night Peter was still not done with his work. The nets that were so vital to his livelihood needed to be washed and taken care of. So there’s Peter diligently working on his nets when Jesus steps into his boat and tells Peter to put out a little from shore. Jesus wanted to use Peter’s boat as a “pulpit” as He taught the people the Word of God. Could Peter afford to put his work aside? Did Peter have the time to simply sit in his boat and listen for however long Jesus decided to teach God’s Word? Who was going to take care of those nets? Who was going to have to work even longer to make sure everything still got done? There were any number of very “modern-day” questions that could have gone through Peter’s mind. But instead of complaining, instead of questioning, instead of suggesting that perhaps Jesus could use someone else’s boat Peter’s love for Jesus and Peter’s trust in Jesus led him to listen to his Lord and humbly say, “Because you say so, Lord, I will take the time.”
Somewhere I read, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Even with all of our supposedly time saving technology people today are busier than ever! Even those of you who are retired have undoubtedly discovered that there isn’t enough time to do all the things that you need to do much less all the things that you want to do. This requires each and every one of us to prioritize our lives so that we can make sure that we accomplish and achieve those things that are the most important to us. With that in mind let me ask you, my friends: Where does the nourishment of your soul come on your personal priority list?
By the grace of God we too have been brought to faith in Jesus as our only Savior from sin. By the grace of God we too know that the only reason we are assured of a glorious eternal life in heaven is because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross of Calvary’s hill. (Pointing to the cross) What do we do when Jesus now comes to us and says, “I want you to take some time to gather around my Word and my Sacrament so that your faith can be strengthened and your soul nourished on a regular basis”? Do we balk and say, “I really don’t have time, Lord”? Do we hesitate and say, “I’d love to Lord, but I have so many other things going on in my life right now— maybe later”? Do we sit in our little padded “boats” (i.e. our church chairs) and think, “I have got so much to do today— I wish I didn’t have to be here”?
The only way to overcome the rebelliousness of our old sinful nature, my friends, is to contemplate the cross on Calvary’s hill. When we stay focused on the love that the cross of Jesus Christ proclaims to us (Pointing to the cross), when we stay focused on what God was willing to take the time to do so that we could be saved for all of eternity then when Jesus comes to us and says, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8), when Jesus comes to us and says, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed” (Luke 10:41-42), when Jesus comes to us and says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33) then our love for Jesus and our trust in Jesus will lead us to listen to our Lord and humbly say, “Because you say so, Lord, I will take the time to nourish my soul.”
Once Jesus had finished teaching the people the Word of God He then turned to Peter as he sat in the boat and told Peter to do something that made absolutely no sense whatsoever! Luke tells us in our text, “When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’” Remember, my friends, that Peter was the “professional” fisherman here. Peter had been fishing the waters of the Sea of Galilee for most of his life. Peter knew that the best time to fish was during the night not during the day. Peter knew that if you wanted to catch fish you let down your nets in the shallow water not in the deep water. And yet even though Peter “warned” Jesus that this did not make a great deal of sense, Peter’s love for Jesus and Peter’s trust in Jesus led him to listen to his Lord and humbly say, “But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
How did it all turn out? Luke tells us that Peter and his companions “caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break”! This amazing display of Jesus’ divine power led Peter to realize his own sinfulness and his own unworthiness. But when Jesus then called Peter into full-time service as one of Jesus’ disciples, Peter’s love for Jesus and Peter’s trust in Jesus led him to listen to His Lord and humbly say, “Because you say so, Lord, I will follow you.”
You already know how this portion of our text applies to you, don’t you. By virtue of the saving faith which God Himself has created in your heart you have been “called” by the God of heaven. Whatever you might do to “earn a living,” whatever you might do to feed your family and pay your bills, over and above absolutely everything else you have been called to be a disciple— a follower— of Jesus Christ.
Does your life faithfully reflect this reality, my friends? When you have an opportunity to use the spiritual gifts God has given to you to serve Him by serving in His kingdom here on this earth does your love for Jesus and your trust in Jesus lead you to listen to your Lord and humbly say, “Because you say so, Lord, I will follow you”? When the Lord tells you that one way to openly express your thankfulness to Him for all that He has done for you is by cheerfully placing generous first-fruit offerings on His altar, does your love for Jesus and your trust in Jesus lead you to listen to your Lord and humbly say, “Because you say so, Lord, I will follow you”? When the Lord reminds you that one of the most powerful ways you can be His witness to your family, relatives, acquaintances and neighbors is simply by the way you live your life, does your love for Jesus and your trust in Jesus lead you to listen to your Lord and humbly say, “Because you say so, Lord, I will follow you”?
“Because I say so” is not always an answer that we like to hear. Until the very day that we die our old sinful nature will rebel at the idea of doing something or not doing something simply because someone says to us, “Because I say so!” But may God grant that in the light of the cross on Calvary’s hill (Pointing to the cross) that no matter what Jesus tells us He wants us to do, no matter what Jesus tells us that He does not want us to do our love for Jesus and our trust in Jesus will lead us to listen to our Lord, bow before Him and humbly say: Because you say so, Lord!
To God be the glory!