“And when (Jesus) 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.”  Luke 5:4-5; Epiphany 5; February 10, 2019

Grace…

Frustrations…we all face them.  Whether it’s the weather that frustrates you-- like the polar vortex of a week and a half ago, or the ice storms of this past week…we all face frustrations.  Frustrations in our work or school, frustrations in the neighborhood, frustrations in our home.  Frustrations with doctors, hospitals, and our health insurance.  Frustrations with employees and employers, frustrations in politics, and especially the frustrations in just getting along with each other—it’s very hard at times.  Our lives are often spent in learning how to deal with the frustrations of life. 

It’s too bad isn’t it?  We often wish that we could just sail through life easily.  Like if the people that we have in positions of authority would never let us down.  Or the car that we buy would never break down.  The house that we live in would never have issues.  The children that we raise would never throw tantrums or cause havoc.  The marriages that we have would never face problems.  The body that we live in would never let us down.

But, they do, don’t they?  They all do from time to time!  We’ve all got issues and frustrations.  We’ve all got situations in our lives that bring us heartaches.   What a blessing it is to know that Jesus Christ willingly came to this world filled with frustrations.  He didn’t turn away from them.  He came to bring health and healing and hope wherever He went.  That’s why the book of Hebrews says of Him, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you do not grow weary or lose heart.”  (Hebrews 12:2-3)

Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith, who in our lesson today, came to the shores of the Lake of Gennesaret, that is the Sea of Galilee, and found some people who desperately needed help.  But, the crowd was so large that He needed to find a different way to teach them.  There in the water were some fishing boats that were not being used.  So, Jesus convinced the owner of the boat to take Him just a little ways away from the shore, and he began to teach the people from the boat. (It was a perfect amphitheater!)

But, our lesson for today, is not necessarily about what Jesus taught the crowd from the boat.  It’s about what He taught Peter and the other fishermen.  For you see, these were frustrated fishermen.  (Does anyone here know what it’s like to be frustrated fishermen?)  It’s hard work!  And to get nothing at all?  Especially the type of fishing these men did.  Casting out their nets, time and time again and coming up with nothing!  And it made it particularly frustrating that their lives depended on it!  This was not just something to do for pleasure.  This was their job!  And they caught nothing. How frustrating!

But, here is Jesus, who has come for them, and He tells frustrated Peter, to “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”  You can almost hear Peter say, “Really?”  We’ve been out all night and caught nothing…and now you say go back out!  We’re the fishermen!  We’re the experts!  We know what we’re doing, and you tell us go back out into the deep and let down our nets again, “Really?”

“Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!”  It reminds me of people who say, “There’s nothing good here!  I can’t see anything good coming from this situation.  It is what it is! Many of us sitting here today can understand this emotion.  Maybe you have a situation in your school or work or your community that is like this.  You’re facing frustration in a very real way.  Maybe you’re having trouble getting along.  Maybe it’s one of your children, your spouse, or maybe even your parent.  And it troubles you.  You’re frustrated with it, and maybe you’re even numb about it.  But, I ask you today, first, “Have you prayed about this?”  Have you commended it to God?  Because He’s the One who says,   “Ask and it will be given, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened unto you.”  And with Him, “All things are possible!”

Praise God that Peter then recognized this!  He says, “Master, We’ve toiled and took nothing.  “But, at your Word, I will let down the nets.”  First, he calls Jesus, Master.  And then he says, “But at Your Word I will let down the nets!  At your Word, Master!  Oh, how we all could grow from this!  How often in life do we come to frustrations and we are tempted to just give up.  Give up praying.  Give up helping.  Give up serving.  Give up forgiving.  Lord forgive us!  And help us, like Peter, to take you at Your Word!

And look what happened, as they went out into the deep and let down the nets, they caught such a great boatload of fish, that their nets began to break.  They had to call another set of boats to come over and help them bring them in.  “And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink.”  Praise God for His goodness and grace, and praise God for the faith that took them out to the deep waters.  This was a miracle!

But, when Peter saw all of the things that happened, with this miraculous catch, he turned to Jesus and said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”  Notice Peter doesn’t just call Jesus, just Master, he calls Him “Lord”.  He recognizes that this miracle could have only happened from the hand of God, but Peter says, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” 

It reminds me of Isaiah’s reaction to God, in our Old Testament lesson today.  He says “Woe is me!...For I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips” I’m not good enough, Lord!  I’ve done too many bad things.  You could never use me!  But, the Lord sent an angel to cleanse Isaiah lips.  And the Lord Jesus looked at Peter and said, “Do not be afraid; for from now on you will be catching men.”  Come follow Me! Don’t be afraid!

It also reminds me of how often in our lives we are presented with opportunities to serve the Lord, and we think, “I couldn’t ever do that! I’ve done too much wrong in my life.  I’ve broken God’s laws again and again!  I’m too young, too old, too much of a bad background.  God couldn’t use me?  Could he?  Oh yes, dear friend!  Oh yes!” 

Peter, the man who says to Jesus, “Depart from me!”  Isaiah the one who had unclean lips.  Paul the one who used to persecute Christians, are forgiven, and come to follow the forgiver!  Just think how their eyes were opened to the excitement of following Jesus and through the power of the Holy Spirit, catching men (people) for the Lord.  God had great plans for all of them!

And God has great plans for all of you as well!  Greater than you could ever imagine!  Just think if Peter had walked the other way!  But, by the grace of God he didn’t.  He followed his forgiver, and became a great leader in the early church. 

And it is my prayer for you and your family and friends that they would take this to heart as well.  God’s not finished with us yet.  He has great plans for each of us, to forgive us, and welcome us to follow Him.  Take Him at His Word and let down the nets! 

God grant it..