What Does God do for You?
Fifth Sunday after Trinity
July 1, 2018
What does God do for you? You can think of a number of things. You can think of the many blessings He gives you. He helps you, He provides for you, He forgives you. All of the good things you can think of that God does for you are bound up in this one thing: He gives you Jesus.
The Creed expresses this as well as anything. The God who is the Creator is the one who gives His Son, our Lord. The Second Article of the Creed expresses succinctly and clearly that Jesus Christ is Lord in becoming a man, suffering for our sins, rising from the grave, and sitting at the right hand of God, in which He rules His Church in grace and mercy.
When He began His ministry it didn’t rock the world. But in the places He went it caused a stir. Luke says in our Gospel reading the crowds were pressing in on Him. Have you ever seen a musician or athlete being bombarded by people wanting an autograph? This is the kind of thing happening with Jesus. He had taught. He had healed. He was followed by many people to be healed and to be taught. Luke says that they were pressing in on Him to hear the Word of God.
God had sent prophets to proclaim His Word to His people. Now He was sending them Jesus. God was there in the flesh speaking the Word of God. He saw two boats there so He got in one of them and began to teach the people from the boat. Luke doesn’t give the details of what Jesus was saying to the crowds. And yet, we know what He was saying to the crowds. He was teaching them as He taught on other occasions that we do have recorded.
The prophets proclaimed, pointing ahead, pointing people to the one who was to come. Now God had given Him. He was here and His proclamation was of Himself. People often will miss the thrust of Jesus’ teaching, thinking that He is teaching morality, what we ought to do. But it’s not that. He does incorporate that into His teaching. But He is the only preacher who gets to preach Himself. Every prophet, apostle, and pastor must preach Christ. Jesus Himself preaches Himself. So we know what He was teaching the people on that day.
When He stopped He spoke to Peter to put out and let down their nets for a catch. Is this what God does, give Jesus so that He can give fishing advice to fishermen? That’s not quite what Jesus was doing. This wasn’t advice, this was Jesus showing them who He truly was and calling them to be His disciples. Peter and his fellow fishermen had been cleaning their nets. They had worked hard all night. This wasn’t going out to the stream or the lake and casting a hook from a reel. This was hard work, putting down large nets and pulling them up for a catch. If anyone would be able to catch fish it was them as they were professional fishermen.
But here Jesus was telling them to let down their nets for a catch. Have you ever had someone try to tell you how to do your job? You’re thinking, what do you know? Stick to your own area of expertise. But this not just another person. This is the one God has given, the Lord. Peter says to Him, “Master, we’ve toiled all night and haven’t caught anything.” We can insert here the editorial thoughts of Peter: “Jesus, you’re a great teacher and healer, but we know fishing, this is what we do. We’ve caught nothing, it’s time to go home and call it a day.”
Even so, Peter, tired as He was, perhaps frustrated at the request of Jesus, deferred to Him. “Nevertheless, at Your word, I will let down the nets.” Remember our question? What does God do for you? He gives you Jesus. But He’s not your personal vending machine Jesus. He didn’t come to make Peter and company’s fishing business successful. Otherwise He would have showed up the night before and they wouldn’t have had to toil all night for nothing. He would have told them to drop their nets, right there in that spot, and they would have been able to catch all the fish they needed and enjoy the rest of their night.
But God gives us Jesus because He is giving us what we truly need. When they let down their nets they caught such a large number of fish that their nets were breaking. They called to their partners to come help. When they did and they started filling both boats with fish they began to sink. This was a miracle of abundance. Jesus wasn’t helping them to fish, He was showing them that He brings about abundance.
Here’s the thing though. What God does for you is He gives you Jesus. When Peter was confronted with this actual fact, he was terrified. “Depart from me, Lord, I am a sinful man.” Peter did not rejoice that his hard labor each night was now over. He was terrified that he was in the presence of the one God sent. How could he, a sinner, stand in the presence of the Lord Himself? His fellow fishermen were all struck the same way.
What God does for you is give you Himself. How He does this is by giving you His Son, who is one with Him. When you are in the presence of God you are forced to face your mortality and your sin. You will die. You will be judged for your sin. You will be condemned because of your sin. This is what Peter was faced with on that day. Too often we wonder what God will do for us. This is what He does. He brings your sin to the fore. Every prophet of God had done this. Calling the people of God to repentance was the precursor to proclaiming the grace of God, that He does not bring His judgment upon them but on the one He would send.
Now that God has sent Him, Jesus is carrying out this promise. He says to Peter, “Do not be afraid.” This is forgiveness. God forgiving you of your sin is not holding it against you. Jesus is God in the flesh and saying to Peter that though he is a sinner, he does not need to fear because He does not hold his sin against him. What God does for you is give you Jesus and in giving you Jesus He forgives you.
Jesus said to Peter and his fellow fishermen that they would now be fishing for people. Their hard work and toil of catching fish would give way to the hard work and toil of going to the world with the Gospel. They pulled their boats to the shore and left everything and followed Him. This is how Jesus called His apostles. He forgave them their sin. He called them from a life of ordinary work to that of establishing the Christian Church. The twelve apostles would proclaim as the prophets had done. Jesus would ascend into heaven after a mere three years but the apostles would bring the Gospel to all nations.
Everywhere they went they gave Jesus to people. This is what God does for you. He gives His Son who calls apostles who establish the Church and bring Jesus to people. Century after century, millennium after millennium, God still gives Jesus to people. The Church having been established, pastors continue to preach the one thing the prophets pointed toward, the one thing Jesus Himself preached, and the one thing the apostles preached. It is Jesus Christ.
Peter spoke words to the Lord that bear witness to the reason God gives you Jesus. You need forgiveness. He gives you His Son. When the Word of God is proclaimed and taught, His Church, made up of His people, we press around the Lord to hear and receive this good news of forgiveness. When the Church brings a person into the community of faith through water and the word of Christ, we give praise to God that He continues to give Jesus to people for the forgiveness of sin. When we gather at this altar we press around our Lord where God gives His Son to us in bread and wine, giving Him in the flesh, His body for us to eat and His blood for us to drink. What God does for us in giving us His Son in this way is forgive us and strengthen us in the faith. Amen.