Sunday, July 4, 2010

Trinity 5: A Devotional Commentary

1 Kings 19:11-21 He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before Yahweh.” Behold, Yahweh passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before Yahweh; but Yahweh was not in the wind. After the wind an earthquake; but Yahweh was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire passed; but Yahweh was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. It was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entrance of the cave. Behold, a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for Yahweh, the God of Armies; for the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and slain your prophets with the sword. I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” Yahweh said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. You shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi to be king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah to be prophet in your place. It shall happen, that he who escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and he who escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. Yet will I leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth which has not kissed him.” So he departed there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing, with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed over to him, and cast his mantle on him. He left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, “Let me please kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” He said to him, “Go back again; for what have I done to you?” He returned from following him, and took the yoke of oxen, and killed them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave to the people, and they ate. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and served him.

1 Peter 3:8-15 Finally, be all like-minded, compassionate, loving as brethren, tenderhearted, polite, not giving back evil for evil or insult for insult. Instead, give back blessing, knowing that you are called to do this, so that you may inherit a blessing. For: Whoever would love life, and see good days, should 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 open to their prayer; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. Now, who will harm you, if you become imitators of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear, and do not be troubled.” Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and always be ready to give a verbal defense to everyone who asks you an explanation for the hope that is in you; with humility and fear.

Luke 5:1-11 Now it happened, while the multitude pressed on him and heard the word of God, that he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats standing by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and they were washing their nets. Jesus entered into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered him, “Master, we worked all night and took nothing! But at your word, I will let down the net.” When they had done this, they caught a great multitude of fish, and their net was breaking. They beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, Lord!” He and all who were with him were amazed at their catch of fish; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid! From now on, you will be catching people alive.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

Jesus did not send out the church to create clever plans and marketing gimmicks. Jesus sent the church out to preach the Gospel. This is the calling of every pastor. It can seem pointless at times. At times the local church may feel like they are the only one's who believe the Gospel. The church is almost empty and dwindling away. The guys down the block seem to keep growing and growing. The church has been throwing out the net of the Gospel without much of any visible results and decides to pull the net in and clean it out. But it is not the church's job to decide when the Gospel should be preached or how often. The church has no business engaging in strategery. The church is only a tool of God and his only job is to keep putting the net of the Gospel out regardless of whether or not the fish get caught in it. Exchanging the net for a fishing pole is not acceptable nor is the church permitted to try to find some attractive bait. Substituting the Gospel for something else is not acceptable. Substituting the message of Christ-crucified for the victorious Christian life or self-help or marriage advice or just telling people how excited they should be is a worthless substitute for the net of the Gospel of Christ crucified for you. The church must remember that she was caught by the net of the Gospel. She was caught by Jesus in the net made by Jesus by someone working under the direction of Jesus.

The example given to us in the fish shows us how we have nothing to contribute to our salvation. The fish did not contribute anything but resistance when being caught by Jesus. They did not fill out a card or pray at an altar. They probably tried to bight through the net and get out. But Jesus caught them anyhow through the use of the human instruments of His disciples. Jesus catches us in spite of ourselves. Jesus the master fisherman who gives His own life for the life of the fish drowns us in the waters of holy baptism and feeds us his own body and blood. Jesus does it all!

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