Emmitsburg Council of Churches


he Holy Gospel according to St. Luke5:1-11

Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 5:2 he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 5:3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 5:4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." 5:5 Simon answered, "Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets." 5:6 When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 5:7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 5:8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!" 5:9 For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 5:10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people." 5:11 When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

The Gospel of the Lord . . .

Casting our nets
 into the seas of life

In the lesson today we are told about the miraculous catch of fish. It is a fishing miracle!!

In fact, it is more than just a good fishing story – something mysterious is at work when the disciples obediently cast their nets at Jesus suggestion and Peter's approval.

The result is not "ordinary" it is not even just "a very good catch."

Instead, there is such a mighty haul of fish that is completely overwhelming – Even to the point of being a bit frightening as we may notice by the mention that "they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break." And "they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink!"

This is no ordinary fish tale, but is an event of monstrous proportions for Peter and the others. They have been transported from their earthly profession of catching and selling fish to literally SWIMMING in the presence of ALMIGHTY GOD!!.

Imagine Simon and his partners, James and John in this incident:

At first they are caught up in the excitement of all those flapping fish in their nets. They are busily tossing the fish into the boats. "Wow, look at this one James!" "We'll be the envy of the market today Simon!" "Stop gloating over your profits guys . . ., ‘Great Whale of Jonah – this net still more than half full!"

After some time -- the excitement begins to wear off as they realize the immensity of the numbers of fish. Nothing like this had ever happened before! "I'm getting tired, John -- stop playing around -- you need to help us! The men began to get weary in their struggle to unload the nets of thrashing fish, and still the water was frothy with their splashing!

Perhaps it was at this time that Peter turned to look over his shoulder at Jesus, still standing on the shore where he had originally told them to "let down the nets for a catch." Was Jesus laughing as he watched them wrestling to gather all those fish? Or was he just watching observantly to see how the men would receive and react to this message.

In Peter's mind an image began to form. An impression began to settle over him.

The man standing on the shore who had told them to "cast their nets one more time." Seemed to know all things. Jesus, who had been teaching from the stern of Peter's boat a half hour ago was now sinking Peter's boat with this overwhelming number of fish!

The more Peter must have thought about what was taking place around him, the more ominous became the figure who waited patiently on the shoreline.

Now pitching fish much more slowly while thinking of what Jesus had said and continuing to watch Jesus who looked back through Peter's life It happened:

Peter realized that God was at work in their midst!

This incredible catch of fish was an act of God! And suddenly the water was like Holy Ground and the fish were like something that should not have been had, and Peter wished he did not have to worry over maintaining his boat and this fishing business any longer. All of the years in the fishing trade began to mean nothing to Peter, and realizing that the catch was from God, he no longer felt an ounce of self worth, and so he turned away from the nets that were still teaming with all those fish and he sloshed his way back to the shore and "fell at Jesus' knees, saying, "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!" And right there, Peter had made the catch of his life -- he had come to the messiah, he had recognized that Jesus is the Lord.

Through the flashing of fins and the splashing of water, in the creaking of old wooden boats now burdened with their scaley cargo -- Peter recognized that Jesus alone offered abundant life – and Peter was prepared to give himself wholly to Jesus. Peter was caught by the net of God's love.

What about you? What about me?

Sometimes in our lives we have also felt led to go out and cast our nets into the seas of life. Fishing takes faith and a kind of sixth sense about what the waters may hold. Some of us have fished in the world of business and come up empty handed (and empty walleted $$!) . . . . others of us have cast our net looking for love and to have our heart warmed by someone who would be faithful and true to us – but this net has not been filled or the one we thought we caught slipped from our grasp and returned to the sea.

Still others of us have cast our net out in search of a cure for what ales us, but have been disappointed by what was not contained in the doctors report – our net was void of the answer we wished to hear.

If your efforts or mine have not resulted in a lasting catch of value, we need to Take the fishing lesson that Peter learned from: Jesus stands at the shore of our lives and casts the net of God's love . . . .

Jesus may have laughed at the disciples as their boats began to sink, but his arm is out-stretched to you and all who need comfort and strength in life's hardships. Jesus is close by and desires to stand with you or walk with all of his people whom he loves.

Finally, we turn our attention to a Third possibility of the great catch. If you have gone through life thinking, "Were is my great catch of fish? When is my ship going to come in? Boy, I never seem to get a break!!"

If an "Empty Net" has unduly preoccupied your mind – if you feel as though the white capped breakers of the sea are carrying you away from any hope of a secure landfall, and if you have turned to look at the shoreline and not found Jesus waiting there — then consider this:

Perhaps you have forgotten that you are the great catch!!

Jesus has silently and invisibly lowered the net of the Gospel down upon you and all of us who are the baptized!!

The Master fisherman that God is, has so silently and so stealthily caught us in his net – that we have been completely blind to the salvation given on our behalf. . . .

What we need to remember is that we are, in fact, "born of water and of the Holy Spirit" who is at work in our lives! By the Holy Spirit, God has led us into being his children! He has lead us into the tangle of his eternal love where he will keep us from all harm. All that is needed is for us to stop thrashing around in the net and be calm in his loving arms.

Finally, recognizing that we are his people, inheritors of eternal life, and living as a holy people in the church -- we are called to cast the net of the Good News of Jesus over others. And to do that we need to first experience the net over ourselves and our loved ones. We need to be active, as was Peter, in falling on our knees before Christ the Lord and confessing our unworthiness, but also embracing the mercy and love that Christ came to give. Then, recognizing that we are "In Christ's Net" we go forth to include others in this great Fishing Story.

Let us Pray

May this be so dear Lord, and may we teach our children to be aware that they too are beloved of God -- in the net of Christ's Love.

Praise to you O Christ our Lord. Amen.

Read more writings of Pastor Jon