Summary of the text
Jesus calling the disciples from their fishing appears in Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20, and Luke 5:1-11. Yet only Luke makes the beautiful connection between call and confession, a connection also made in another lection from this week, Isaiah 6:1-8.
Both Isaiah and Peter are overwhelmed by the presence and power of God. Isaiah is overwhelmed at the miracle of glimpsing God’s heavenly throne room. As an experienced fisherman, Peter sees the gigantic catch of fish as miraculous. Not only the number of fish, but their appearance at the time of day for cleaning nets, not for fishing. Jesus reveals God’s power in a different kind of splendor, in creation, in something from nothing.
The recognition of God’s power and presence brings recognition to Isaiah and Peter, the recognition of their sin. Peter and Isaiah recognize their otherness, feeling out of place alongside God’s holiness. They recognize sin separates us from God but find another miracle. God is drawing near anyway.
God making the first move breaks everything open, making space for recognition and honest confession. In the light of God’s presence, Isaiah and Peter see what God sees and confess. Peter could have used the words of Isaiah and Isaiah the words of Peter. We can use their words as well.
The Good News is God sees more than sinners and invites us to see that as well. Isaiah and Peter are not defined nor disqualified by their sin, and neither are we. Yes, we need healing and forgiveness and yes, we are called to join God in God’s great work of salvation. We don’t need to be afraid of God’s power and presence. We don’t need to be afraid we’re not worthy of the call. We just need to be honest with our need of God and follow.
Another thought: The call of the disciples in Luke 5 can be seen as a fulfillment of Jeremiah 16:14-21. In this passage, God sees the sin of the people, yet promises to teach them and gather them out of all the lands of their exile.
I am now sending for many fishermen, says the Lord, and they shall catch them; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks. – Jeremiah 16:16, NRSV
Did Jesus word the invitation to “catch people” in this specific way because the disciples were fishermen? If the disciples had been bakers or lawyers, would Jesus have worded it differently?
Imagine, Jesus says, “Come follow me, and I will…
Mail carriers- send you to carry Good News to your neighbors
Electricians- empower you to bring light to the nations
OB/GYN- breathe with you as you midwife new life in people and communities
Guard- stand with you as you make people secure in their relationship with God
Teacher- instruct you in how to make people wise in the ways of God
Parent- rear you to raise up children of God
Judge- give you the authority to release all who are imprisoned by sin and death
Chef- share my recipes with you so the world can taste and see that the Lord is good
Mechanic- give you the tools to repair broken souls
Poet- open your lips to proclaim justice and freedom for those who have no voice
How is Jesus calling you?
Lisa Degrenia is an ordained pastor currently serving Coronador Community United Methodist Church. Lisa studied at the University of South Florida and received her Masters of Divinity from Duke Divinity School. She’s served congregations in Largo, St. Petersburg, DeBary, and Sarasota.
In addition to serving as a pastor, Lisa enjoys leading retreats, photography, theatre, travel, and writing. She is indebted to the many wonderful mentors and teachers in her life, including her mother who first gave her a love for words.
Lisa met her beloved husband Ed on a trip to NYC and they were married ten months later. They are blessed with two grown daughters, two sons-in-love, one new grandchild, and two dogs. You can find more of her work at https://revlisad.com/.
God has already equipped me to make the contribution that God wants me to make. Sure, I grow and learn as I follow Jesus, but that doesn’t mean I’m trying to be something or someone I’m not. It means that as I follow Jesus, as I offer up to him all that I am, I become more fully who God created me to be.
A well respected and beloved Polish Rabbi named Simcha Bunim used to say, “Every person should have two pockets. In one, there should be a note that says, ‘for my sake was the world created.’ In the second, there should be a note that says, ‘I am dust and ashes.’”
Rabbi Bunim went on to say one must know how to use the notes, each one in its proper place and at the right time. He knows us well. When misused, we hunker down in one pocket and make a home. We use a note to justify, judge, and deflect self-examination.
For my sake the world was created- I’m all that and a bag of chips
I am dust and ashes- Eeyore is my best buddy
But, when we open to the wisdom of the notes, we accept we are not one or the other. We realize we are both notes. Both pockets. We see the wisdom of the notes in the wisdom of God’s Word which goes back and forth, naming us and reminding us who we are- beloved and dust. We are both and we need both.
Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia, www.revlisad.com
Additional Sermon Resources
Eternal and Beautiful God,
The One who births us and names us
Grant us perspective
A holy centering of truth, humility, and our belovedness
Not too high that we fall away from you
our need of you
our need of others
Not too low that we fail to trust
to reach out for you
to reach out with you
In you, with you, for you we are
humble and powerful
unique and alike
common and regal
priceless and dust
Grant us perspective, Merciful One
A holy centering
Let no voice be too loud or too soft
So we may persevere in faith, in hope, in following, in becoming
Prayer for Perspective © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia, www.revlisad.com
Prayer of Confession
Gracious God, we desire to follow when you call. We long to live according to the ways of Jesus, yet we find ourselves stumbling. Forgive us for the times we have ignored your call to follow you in the ways of compassion, love, and mercy. As you meet us with your grace and assurance, empower us to move when you call.
Assurance of Pardon
The good news in Christ is that when we face ourselves and God with the awareness of our need, we are given grace to grow, and courage to continue the journey.
Leader: Friends, believe the good news of the gospel.
People: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.
1 Corinthians 15:58, NRSV
Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.