Sermon St Eustachius 9.45 6 February 2022 4th b4 Lent Year C P1 Have Faith
Isaiah 6v1-8 Psalm 138 1Corinthians 15v1-11 Luke 5v1-11
Let us Pray:
It is so lovely to hear how our Lord Jesus calls people to follow after him. I wonder how God spoke to you and called you to start along the path of your Christian life and pilgrimage, a life of change and adventure that never stops. A life of transformation as by his Holy Spirit God is changing each one of us to become like our beloved Lord Jesus. Well, certainly the live of Jesus four friends, Peter and Andrew, James and John were never going to be the same after he called them to ‘follow him’ and to ‘become fishers of men’.
Each of the three Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, relate that story, but our reading from Saint Luke today gives much extra detail.
Jesus was just embarking upon his Galilean ministry following his time in Jerusalem and Judea during the spring and summer of AD 28. Peter, Andrew and John had been with him then, but had now clearly returned to their business and occupation of fishing in the lake, when they saw Jesus walking by the shore. I guess John had related all that had previously occurred to his probable elder brother James, who like the other three were prepared to leave all and to follow the Lord immediately when he called.
I wonder what the Lord may have asked you to ‘leave behind’, what changes he may have asked you to encompass, when he called you to follow after him? I trust that in retrospect, and with hindsight, although they may have seemed a struggle at the time, like me you can often look back and see the good hand of the Lord at work in what happened.
As Jesus walked by the lake there was a crowd of people on its shore who were anxious to hear the message of this new young Rabbi. So many in fact that Jesus saw one of the boats Peter and Andrew had left to wash their nets, and jumped in and asked them to push off from the shore a little. Of course Jesus Physics was far better than mine, after all he had spoken the Universe into being, and knew that his words would be very effectively reflected off the water’s surface so that the people would hear his words much more clearly.
Matthew and Mark tell us that Jesus used this opportunity to start to teach the people in parables although we do not have them recorded from that occasion. There are so many tantalising gaps in our Lord’s teaching that are not recorded by the evangelists, but that gives you an opportunity.
An opportunity to ask the Lord many questions when you finally meet him face to face. I hope you are looking forward to that time with anticipation. I am sure that none of us here are like some in Corinth whom Paul feared may have come to believe in vain, and may no longer have been holding fast to the message of the gospel. Let us all stand firm in the faith as we are being saved for that time when we shall finally be with our Lord.
We also read how Jesus, when he had finished his teaching, asked Simon to push out into the deep and carry on with his business of fishing. I wonder how many times Jesus has asked you, he has certainly asked me, to ‘push out into the deep’, another way of saying ‘trust me’, Jesus does have our best interests at heart.
Did Jesus not know that Peter had been fishing all night and caught nothing? The evidence was clear, they were washing their nets and not rushing off to market to sell their catch. But clearly Peter had learnt something in the months he had already spent with Jesus at Cana, Jerusalem and on the way back to Galilee. He knew that Jesus word could be trusted. So he replied, “but at your word I will let down my nets”. Peter’s faith in Jesus was beginning to grow stronger.
And to help Peter’s faith grow, we read that, ‘they enclosed a great shoal of fish’. And not just a ‘great shoal’, but so many that their nets began to break, and what does that tell us? Jesus always has an abundance of blessings in store for us if we will but ‘put down our nets at his word’, if we will but put our faith in what Jesus asks us to do.
Obedience is one of the greatest delights we can give to God our Father.
And those blessings, that abundance of fish, is something God looks for us to share with those around us, to make known to them also the blessings he has, not just for us, but for them as well. So Peter and Andrew beckoned to their partners, James and John, to come alongside in their boat, and to share in the catch and to get it safely to shore.
Such was Peter’s realisation of that abundant blessing Jesus had just given to him in response to his obedience to Jesus word, that he fell down at Jesus knees saying. “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord”. And that should be true for us also, when we receive God’s abundant blessings, we are to recognise him and to give him our worship.
The words that Peter used, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man’, very much echo the words of our reading from the Prophet Isaiah. The passage from Isaiah 6 describing the prophet’s vision of God’s presence in the highest heaven, is not just one of my favourite scriptures, it is one of such amazing insight into the very presence of God himself. We have few such passages that describe God in his highest heaven.
But what this passage shows is that in the presence of Almighty God, even such a great prophet like Isaiah, who was given many wonderful revelations from God, we all recognise that, ‘we are lost, we are people of unclean lips’, and so it is for all of those around us. How we like Isaiah need ‘our guilt to be taken away and our sin blotted out’.
Is it not a cause for much rejoicing that we Christians actually know that is true for us, our guilt has been taken away. What other faith or philosophy gives such a hope and assurance? All we have to do is confess our sins and put our faith and trust in Jesus. And in this seventieth jubilee year of our Queen, let us pray for a revival of faith for this our country.
We have the promise that God himself has dealt with the sin of each one of us, just as the seraph dealt with Isaiah’s sin and blotted it out by the fire of the coal taken from the altar. God has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west; God has buried our sins in the deepest sea; because Jesus was obedient to the will of God the Father, and died for us all on Calvary’s tree.
Isaiah responded by answering the call from God to be sent, ‘here I am send me’. How are we to respond to God’s call to us? I trust that we have responded by openly confessing the sin that so easily besets us, and by putting our faith and trust in the same person that Peter did. If we put our trust in Jesus we are promised that he will forgive us all our sins, and will send his Holy Spirit to abide within us and sustain us as his disciples.
What an amazing Gospel of good news we have to tell to all peoples. What an amazing gospel of hope, of eternal joy, that we have as God sends us out to be ‘fishers of people’. It is the same call that all Christians have received since Jesus first called Peter and Andrew, James and John, and to which we respond in the same way by following after him.
Let us pray: God of heaven, you send the gospel to the ends of the earth and your messengers to every nation:
send now your Holy Spirit to transform us by the good news of everlasting life as we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ our Lord.