Home > The Fruit of the Womb is a Reward, Trinity 1-5 > Fifth Sunday after Trinity, 2013. “Terrifying Kindness”. St. Luke 5:1-11

Fifth Sunday after Trinity, 2013. “Terrifying Kindness”. St. Luke 5:1-11

Saint%20Peter's%20Fish5th Sunday after Trinity

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. Luke 5:1-11 (1 Cor. 1:18-25, 2 Kings 19:1-11)

June 30, 2013

“Terrifying Kindness”

Jesu juva!


You’ve stood in a checkout line before, haven’t you, behind a mother with her kid who pesters her to buy him some candy or a toy? Mom says, “No.” The kid tries to reason with her, explaining why it is a good and sensible idea for him to get this Snickers bar, and how it would benefit her and him alike. And Mom still says no. And the kid continues and reminds his mother how often he is deprived of simple pleasures like this Snickers bar which nearly every other child in America is given every time they enter a store. If mom still says no, maybe her child begins to call into question her justice and her compassion. After all, you, Mom, quite frequently buy yourself a Snickers bar when you go to the store. So you are not being fair. You are not treating me equally. On top of this it is questionable whether you really love me as you ought to as my mother, because so often I ask you for things and you don’t give them to me. Yes, how could you love me when you never give me what I ask for, but you constantly yell at me and punish me, make me eat the terrible food you cook, make me do incredibly boring things that no one else has to do like go to church and do chores, and on top of it all you clearly love my brother more than me and give him whatever he asks for?

Sometimes Mom breaks down. Maybe she feels guilty about her failures as a parent, or maybe she thinks that love means doing what the person you love says will make them happy. Or maybe she’s just tired that day.

Of course, the child will always remember this act of kindness, right? He’ll never say that his mom doesn’t love him again. He’ll see this act of kindness and honor his mom from this point on and eat his Hamburger Helper without complaining and wishing he had a Happy Meal.

Hm. You seem skeptical about this. I’m surprised to see that you are so cynical about human nature.

But you may have a point. It does seem to be true that a lot of times when you show grace to kids they don’t respond to it by realizing how selfish they’ve been and becoming more thankful and obedient to their parents. The kids that do usually are kids who’ve learned through firm discipline that they really aren’t entitled to whatever they desire. Sorry, that’s just not the way the world is.

But adults in America have become this way too. Haven’t they? Particularly the generation born just after the war. But then again their children are even worse, for the most part. I’m talking about me here. I share the characteristics of my generation. We think the goal in life is our own personal happiness. Responsibilities and duties and laws and morals and people and traditions that get in the way of our personal fulfillment—those we feel free to ignore. And if you criticize or judge me it’s you that’s the bad person. Who are you to interfere with my happiness with your demands that I be polite and wear nice clothes to church and follow all these empty traditions?

So we have the Supreme Court’s decision that struck down the federal law restricting marriage to a man and a woman. This was a decision for fairness and equality, we’re told. If you’re above a certain age it’s likely you shake your head and change the channel whenever this kind of news comes on the tv.

If you’re younger, 60 or 50 maybe, definitely if you’re 40 or under, the likelihood increases that you feel like it was a fair ruling, or at least that it’s hard to say anything about it even if the Bible says it’s wrong. People can’t help how they feel, who they’re attracted to, right? And we no longer punish other types of sexual sin. Adulterers and people who have sex with people they’re not married to aren’t shunned or stoned.

But the same thing applies to us as to the whiny kid in the checkout line. Not everything we want is good. And treating people fairly is not the same, always, as treating them equally, because God made people different. He gave some people more gifts than others. He makes some people governors and the rest of the people the governed. He made some people male and some female.

It’s not good for kids if parents let them live on candy, fast food, and pop tarts just because that’s what they want. It’s not good if a kid is born a male but feels like a female, so his parents submit to the child’s feelings and pay for him to be mutilated and drugged to look like a woman (and this is happening now in America). And it’s not good for the government to give the name, privileges, and honor of marriage to gay unions and act as if they are the same as marriage between a man and a woman just because people want it to be that way.

After each day of creation, God saw that what He had made “was good.” And when He created man male and female, in the image of God, He blessed them this way: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1). Then after this final work of creation God saw “that it was very good,” everything He had made.

Homosexual unions and marriage are not equal and can never be and therefore it will never be just to treat them the same and call them the same thing. There is a vast inequality between marriage and homosexual unions. Marriage between a man and a woman brings forth life when God wills. It is blessed by God. Sex outside of this gift of God, marriage, is forbidden by God. It may result in the blessing of a human life even though it is sinful. There may be marriages where God does not grant the blessing of children. But for two people of the same sex to have a child come from their sexual union would require God to re-do creation.

That is what the Supreme Court decision has done. It has stood in God’s place—which is what judges are called by God to do. But response to Americans complaining like kids in a checkout line that it’s not fair that they can’t have what they want, the Supreme Court falsely represented God and said, “You’re right, it’s not fair.” On purpose or in ignorance, the Supreme Court overruled God’s judgment at creation: “It is very good”, and treated God’s blessing “be fruitful and multiply” with contempt, as though it were no blessing.

But this rejection of God’s blessing and God’s order did not begin with gay marriage.

It didn’t begin with legalized abortion, when we made it legal to kill the Lord’s blessings rather than have our lives “ruined” by the supposed mistake of a human life knitted together by God in the womb.

And it didn’t begin with the baby-boomers and free love, or even when no-fault divorce became the law of the land and marriage went from being “one flesh” to “two consenting adults”. God’s blessing and order began to be despised and send us down this road when we started to see it as a blessing not to have too many children. Most of the people who are called “the church” started not believing that “be fruitful and multiply” was a blessing a long time ago—in the 1930s or 40s or 50s or earlier. We started to put conditions on God’s unconditional blessings.

God didn’t say, “Be fruitful and multiply…but be careful not to multiply too much!”  That isn’t God’s way.  His way is the way of life and blessing.  Not the scarecrow, stick-figure blessing of mere pleasure, which we vainly try to keep finding satisfaction in as our beauty fades, our limbs wither, our eyes dim, our skin sags, our teeth fall out, and we are no longer able to taste our food, no longer able to believe that this world might be enjoyable forever.  No.  God is the God of life that does not end, life that is worthy of eternity.  He is the God of blessing.  His voice is like the roar of many waters, where deep calls to deep in thundering, surging, unfathomable floods of grace.  The most distant echo of that blessing’s thunder sends sinners to their knees and threatens to sink the little heart’s boat into the deep, burst the fragile nets of reason by which we would gather it to ourselves.  Life is never unredeemable in God’s eyes.  Life, for which sex is given, is greater than mere happiness or pleasure.  A human life is a vessel created to hold God.

But this denial of God’s blessing on marriage was only a symptom of the mistrust and denial of God’s word that began with the first marriage. Human beings always trust their own wisdom over the word of God. Jesus preached and then told Peter to let down his nets in the middle of the day. That was foolish to Peter. You don’t catch fish then. Besides, Peter had slaved all night and caught nothing.

We are the same: we work as though there were no God and as if we take care of ourselves. When we succeed, we become proud as if we did it for ourselves. When it doesn’t work we act as if there is no God who cares for us.

We don’t work diligently at the tasks Christ has given us because, we say, the Lord has promised to take care of us.

We are unthankful for all the gifts we have received. I can’t afford to give very much, we say. I don’t have much time to give either. The Word is preached and taught and sung and all the time Jesus Christ is portrayed before us and given to us and we say, “No thanks.” “I’ve got enough.” We don’t teach our children the faith because we’re afraid if they get too much of the Bible they’ll reject it. Christianity is best in small doses, is the thinking. We wouldn’t want to act as if Jesus expected you to leave behind your fish, boats, nets, iphones, false gods, family, friends, yes, even your own life—to follow Him. If we act like Jesus can’t be squeezed into whatever time we have left over after giving all the other things in our life their due, who would ever want to be a Christian?

The LORD who created and judged His creation to be good is standing in front of Peter as the fish pile in the boat,20060907Depart%20from%20me swarming and writhing. “Let the waters swarm with fish,” He said on the fifth day. Now He says, “Drop your nets in the deep waters in the middle of the day,” and in the little boat of bar-Jonah the miracle is repeated. The Lord of life—fish life, animal life, human life, who blesses it and multiplies it—pours such blessing on Peter’s fishing operation that it destroys his equipment and begins to sink his boat. The blessing is overwhelming. It is so great that it threatens to sink Peter together with his boat in the darkest depths.

The same Lord of creation is with us in this boat, the Church. He comes to give us blessing that neither our bodies nor souls are deep, wide, or strong enough to contain. He threatens us with His blessing. He threatens to forgive us. That is to say He tells us we are already forgiven. And this threatens our wisdom, our strength, our self-esteem. We toiled all night, all our lives, and made no headway in atoning for our sins or even providing for ourselves a crust of bread. The Lord did it all apart from our work, wisdom, or piety. He gave us our daily bread and continues to give it each day. And He does so even though we are not worthy of it or anything else for which we pray. He grants everything to us by grace, for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment.

Jews crave signs, and Greeks search for wisdom. But we preach Christ nailed to the cross and dead, which is a scandal to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. But to us who are called, Christ the power and wisdom of God.

God has made foolish the wisdom of this world. Jesus, the creator of the world, the creator of marriage, the Lord of the kings of the earth. He stands in our midst in His flesh and blood. He gives us everything that is His—all righteousness, salvation, sanctification, life, and earthly things. He gives it to us by grace and makes foolish the wisdom of the world. It’s not because there is anything good in Peter or in us that He pours out temporal and spiritual blessing on us, so great that our hearts are not able to see too much of it lest we die. It is a gift given in His Word, in preaching, in the message of the cross, to those who believe.

It is the Lord who stands in the boat with us and gives us so much. And like Peter we realize—all these good things He has given me over and over throughout my life. But I never thought it was enough. I never thought it was Him doing it; I thought it was me. I regarded His word as foolishness, something that would never work.

Jesus says to us as He said to Peter: don’t be afraid.

This is what He says to us as we stand trembling before the law’s judgment.

Don’t be afraid: you will catch men.

It is an absolution. And along with Jesus’ absolution comes the commission. From now on you will catch men. You will join me in my work of hauling sinners out of the deep waters of despair, death, and hell, in which they swim and breathe without any light. All Christians have a share in this, all forgiven sinners, by prayers, by offerings, by joyful service in your calling. The Lord will provide for us what we need, so we are free to praise Him, hear his word, and serve our neighbor.

The Lord may still chasten us. St. Peter may close.

The United States may well be destroyed, as happens with nations which suppress even the knowledge of the law written on the heart.

Yet His promise of forgiveness is firm His promise to sustain us and not let His word return void.

His promise to make us a blessing to the salvation of souls. This will be true even if this building should become a vacant ruin, where God’s word is never preached.

Nevertheless God who may yet chasten us this way preaches to you today: Fear not. You will be catching men. He forgives you and makes you a part of the proclamation of the word of the cross, which is the power of God to us who are being saved.

It proclaims our sins nailed once and for all, forever, to the cross where the Son of the living God hung dead for them. This is the power and wisdom of God which is foolishness and irreligious scandal to those who are being damned.

Even if this message stops being proclaimed here, it will not disappear until it has accomplished the purpose of Jesus, whose word it is.

And if it stops here–if the Gospel stops sounding through these walls–nevertheless you who have believed it, been baptized into it, proclaimed it in faith as you ate and drank His body and blood in remembrance of His death, will dwell in the Church where this Word is always heard. You will dwell in that Church which does not sink under the weight of His blessing, the Church that is His dwelling place forever. Amen.

The peace of God, which passes understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. SDG

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