Pastor Hopkins preached this sermon on the fifth Sunday after Trinity 7/12/2020. The service was broadcast live on Facebook at 11am, and is now available on the FLC youtube channel. To follow along from home, the bulletin is available as a PDF: Trinity5 Bulletin
The texts for the sermon were the day’s gospel and epistle lessons. To read the Bible texts for the fifth Sunday after Trinity, click here.
This entire fishing trip with Jesus and Simon-Peter hinges on one critical moment. I won’t keep you waiting. The one moment I’m speaking of occurs here:
Jesus sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at Your Word I will let down the nets.” verses 4-5
It’s important to remember that they are professional fishermen. And so, it’s quite likely that they have had a bad night of fishing before. What makes this event different is that on the very next day, Jesus teaches them.
We don’t know the exact contents of Jesus’ sermon; but it wasn’t practical advice on fishing. No crowds were pressing in on our Lord for good advice.
What the people gathered around to hear was the Word of God. And so, Jesus, the Word of God, spoke to them. He taught them Law and Gospel, sin and grace, and the Kingdom of God. He taught them the Scriptures and showed them God’s love for them.
And then He was quiet. Eventually, Jesus stopped preaching. When the sermon was over, He told Simon-Peter what to do. And when the sermon was over, Simon-Peter did as Jesus said.
I know that might seem like an overly simplistic summary of what happened, but it isn’t. That very tight sequence is at the heart of everything. What matters most is that Jesus preached and taught the Word of God, and then, that those who heard Him did what Jesus said.
That’s it. That’s how the Church works. Jesus speaks, and we listen and obey.
Think of it this way: the world runs on its own ideas, but the Church runs on Jesus’ ideas; the world follows its own wisdom, but the Church follows Jesus’ wisdom; the world does what it wants, but the Church does what Jesus wants.
All this becomes most obvious when you compare their second attempt with their failure the night before. The night before, Simon and his friends would have been doing everything right according to the wisdom of men. But that wisdom failed them.
On the contrary, when Jesus told them to go deep in the middle of the day, that was not in keeping with the wisdom of men. But, according to the will of God, they brought in a great catch.
Jesus creates this situation to make the point loudly and clearly: the Church, those who listen to the voice of Jesus and are taught by Him, also love Him and do as He commands, even when His command defies our own wisdom.
When we have listened and understood this one, simple thing, we see that so many of the other details could have been different. This is helpful to remember because in our own lives they very often are different.
Consider that it actually would not matter if Simon caught loads of fish the night before, so long as when Jesus speaks, Simon listens and does what Jesus says. He may not need fish, but he does need to hear the Word of God.
Likewise, it would not matter if Simon and his friends caught only two fish when Jesus told them to put their nets in the deep water. Being faithful to Christ does not mean you are going to get what you think is best. Being faithful to Christ means that Jesus gets what He knows is best, even if that means only two fish.
Of course, the stakes are rather low if we’re just talking about fish. But Jesus says to Simon-Peter that from now on he will be catching men. From now on, he will be gathering people into the Kingdom of God. And so, if today, listening to Jesus is critical for this small task of catching fish, how much more must they listen and obey when catching men and making disciples?
You can find plenty of places in this world with full nets. They have clung faithfully to the wisdom of men – from marketing strategies and slogans to clever advertising and cheap products, as if the Church were a business looking for customers. But she is not.
The Church of God depends completely on what the world sees as foolishness.
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified,
a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called,
both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. verses 18-19, 22-24
Jesus the Christ – beaten, bloody, dead, and hanging on a cross – this is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This is the wisdom of God to save us. It looks like absolute foolishness to the world, so, don’t bother trying to sell it. This Gospel can only be given away.
If the Church, if you, would be saved by this wisdom of God that the world regards as foolishness, then the rest of the Christian life, which the world also regards as foolishness, falls rather neatly into place.
Suddenly, acknowledging God’s design for marriage: that it is one man and one woman doesn’t seem so strange. Suddenly, telling that one man and one woman to be married before they start acting married doesn’t seem strange either. Suddenly, hearing Jesus speak and doing as Jesus says, regardless of how it appears to the world makes sense.
Because if the wisdom of God, which is foolishness to men, is what you will cling to at your death, then that same wisdom of God, which is foolishness to men, is most certainly worthy to cling to in this life.