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From Now On

July 15, 2017 Pastor: Rev. George Fyler

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Luke 5:10b ~ From Now On — Trinity 5, 7/16/2017, CELC, Cleveland, OH

~In Nomine Iesu~

… And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men."                [Luke 5:10 ESV]

Dear Beloved of the Lord:

                The last phrase of Luke 5:10 contains a powerful three letter word in English as well as in Greek.  This word is used 15 times in Luke's gospel.  It first appears in Luke 1:48: "for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.  For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;" and lastly in Luke 22:69:"But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God."Listen again,can you pick out the word I am referring to?"And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men."  It's the word "now," used in the phrase, FROM NOW ON.  It’s often used by St. Luke to indicate a decisive turning point, as here forPeter …which is also decisive for you.

                Because of what happened to Peter, he now would never be the same.  From now on, his life would be completely different.We know this because of what Jesus said to him: "From now on, you will be taking men alive."(my literal translation) Peterwas a fisherman, but now he would be a “fisher of men.”From now on, his life will be completely different; he will never be the same.   Here Jesus previews the One, Holy, Christian, Apostolic community—the church—which extends through time and history to you today.  From now on, you will never be the same.  Your life will be completely different.Because Jesus has a similar word for you.

                Unless you are playing the hypocrite, you are doing today the very same thing Peter did that day.  Unless you are simply going through the motions here this morning, you are encountered by Jesus in a way similarto the wayJesus encountered Peterwith his fishing partners.  Unless you are hearing a message being delivered to you by a different spirit, you are hearing the very same Word of God that Jesus spoke to Peter that day at Lake Gennesaret.  And, unless you are still spiritually dead, Jesus is having the same effect upon you as He had upon Peter.  Because of what happened to him during this encounter with Jesus, Peter will never be the same.  From now on, his life will be completely different.So, must it be for you also …from now on.

                This is a key lesson the Holy Spirit teaches in today's Gospel.  We are taught a lesson about our own encounter with Jesus.  Jesus’ calling Peter, together with James and John, to be Apostles that day unfolds for us the story of God's persistent calling youin the Word that comes to you through the Holy Scriptures, the liturgy, and the hymns, through your daily remembrance of your Baptism, and through your reception of the Lord's Supper.  And yes, let’s not forget the ministries of Elijah and Elisha that God’s Word brings to our remembrance this day as well as the two humble servants before you who have likewise heard Jesus’ call.

                And, as it was for Peter, so it is for you.  Because of what Jesus says to you, through His Apostles—old and new—you are never to be the same.  Your life is completely different, from now on.

                The Holy Spirit gathers you to meet the Living God here.  Through His Word, He reveals Himself as your Almighty Savior and LORD.Like Elijah(1 Kings 19:11-21), you are called out of yourdepressed, downtrodden, doubtful, sinful and looking for revenge “Elijah moodiness.”Sent to Mt. Horeb by God’s own Word, after a trip of 40 days and 40 nights, Elijah hunkered down in a cave like a fish-less fisherman bemoaning the state of his economy, threats lodged against him for his not achieving decisive and amazing result amidst God’s faithless people and the hiddenness of God in the pains of trail, persecution and self-righteous zeal. 

                In response, God says, "Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by."Then the excitement really started!  There was "a great wind," but the Lord was not in the wind.  Then an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake—then a fire.  After the Mount Carmel experience, Elijah might well have thought, "This is it!"  But, no, the Lord was not in the fire.  Finally, there was what the original Hebrew words call “a smallfaint … whisper.”  This isGod’s expression of intimacy to His Prophet.  God, who consumed the Mount Carmel sacrifice with dramatic fire, comes to Elijah in his time of discouragement with the quiet whisper of an intimate friend.  He comes to us as a Baby in a manger … in His Word of Scripture in the quiet of our devotions … in the water and Word of Holy Baptism … in the bread and wine of his Supper … in the intimacy of His Spirit which dwells in the hearts of His children.

                Likewise, here, in this nave—this "boat"—you are in the same boat as Peter.  You, like Peter, are in the very presence of God, who is in this boat with you.  And, even as Peter's ears and eyes were opened to this awesome reality when Jesus—true God and true Man—taught and then performed the miracle demonstrating His divine power—so also your ears and eyes are opened in this place.  Think about the miracles that our Jesus performs while He teaches us here:1) The miracle of Holy Baptism, by which you who were born anew … born from above, not by flesh, but by the Spirit as children of God; 2) The miracle of Christ’sEucharist, in which bread and wine are the very Body and Blood of the Son of God, given and shed for you.  Through His teaching of His Word and His giving of His Sacraments, Jesus has been presenting to this Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church boat—for 127 years and counting(9/29/1889)—a miraculous catch of fish—men, women, children, all caught alive.  It is amazing!

                Jesus' words to Peter were challenging and humbling.As it was for Peter, so also it is for you.  The sinner who finds himself in the presence of God mustacknowledge his/her unworthiness.  Peter confessed, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord."You confessed the same in His presence today.  You acknowledged the truth that if you say you have no sin you deceive yourselves and the truth is not in you; also, that you are by nature sinful and unclean, and have sinned against Him in thought, word, and deed.

                Yet, like Saint Peter, the Saints of Christ Evangelical Lutheran congregation have for 127 years professed in faith that the same Lord who comes today to convict us of our sinfulness also comes today to proclaim God's gracious mercy toward us.  For this Jesus who brought to Peter the huge catch of fish is the Christ who worked a far greater miracle—miraculously bringing to His Heavenly Father a huge catch of men—indeed, the entire world—through His death on the cross and His triumphant resurrection from the dead.  God the Father, through Jesus Christ His Son,has gathered sinful mankind back to Himself.  For now on, the Father offers to the world the forgiveness of all sins, and peace, for the sake of Christ.  What a Holy Gospel defense we have received and will confess.

                Jesus proclaimed that peace personally to Peter, to calm the fear of God that his sins rightly brought upon him.  "Do not be afraid," Jesus said.  Today, the Peace of Jesus will overfill your nets.  He gifts forgiveness to you at His expense and He claims you as His own forever.  His peace is upon all of you who, without hypocrisy and in faith, have confessed your sins in His very presence, trusting completely that God the Father in His mercy forgives all your sins for the sake of His Christ.  For Jesus speaks to you personally today through the mouth of His servant.  You are once again taught, as you hear the Holy Triune Name of “God the Father, Son X and Holy Spirit” spoken over you, to remember the baptismal formula by which He has cleansed you through this miraculous washing.  Jesus offers to you today by the hand of His servant His Very Body and Blood, through which He Himself is present to fill you with eternal salvation beyond your measure.

                For NOW,He enters you—and you can never be the same.  From now on, your life will be completely different.  For Christ dwells within you, and fills you with His life.

                So, unless you are the hypocrite, simply going through the motions, hearing a message of an unholy spirit, and still dead in your sins, you are renewed and strengthened in the true Christian faith, never to be the same as you were when you walked in here.  Because of what has happened to you during this presence of Jesus today, you will never be the same.

                From nowon, your relationships with strangers and loved ones will never be the same, and all for the better, as you forsake long-established bad habits and live with a renewed love for the neighbor near and far.  From now on, relations between the members of this congregation are changed for the betteras we depart from this altar, having been filled with a more fervent love for one another through this salutary gift of love from our Loving Lord.  From now on, your understanding of your place in the world will be different, even as Peter's world was different following his encounter with Jesus, because Jesus has spoken the same word to you.

                This same Peter, now Apostle Peter under the guidance of the Holy Spirit wroteus this parting word: “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”(1 Peter 3:8-15)

                Christ continues to grant this new life to you, from now on and to eternity.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 ESV)

~Amen~~Soli Deo Gloria~