No Ordinary Word

Text: Luke 5:1-11

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

In 1982, children laughed and were amazed from a segment on Sesame Street when the puppets, Bert and Ernie, went fishing. More specifically, in the short 3-minute Muppet sketch, Bert and Ernie demonstrated to the world that all that was needed to catch fish was simple words. “Here fishy, fishy, fishy…” and the fish jumped into the boat. The louder the call, the more the fish responded, by jumping into the boat. It was that easy. Yell out, “Here fishy, fishy, fishy…” and the fish responded.

Now, if only fishing were this easy!

In fact, wouldn’t it be great if all life worked this way? Just think about it. What if we spoke and then things automatically happened? Just think if our words were powerful enough to make others obey us and if our words could create things out of nothing. I am sure we would not only call out for fish to jump in our boat, but we would also speak other words to make life a bit easier.

          Laundry be done!

          Lawn be mowed!

          Dishes be done!

          Cold and Flu be gone!

          Cancer be gone!

          And so forth…

However, life does not seem to work this way, for our words are just not that powerful. And because they are not powerful, they are neither heard by others nor respected. More often than not, our words that we speak fall on deaf ears. No wonder why we put such little value on words these days. No wonder why so many people in our society are yelling and nobody is listening.

All of this doesn’t stop people from speaking words, though. For example, politicians make apparent powerful campaign promises and speak words of hope, only for us to later realize that their campaign words were empty and weak – they were unable to deliver on their words.

Let us not only pick on the politicians, for they are an easy target. Let us think about the weakness of the words spoken in the workforce. Many of you have experienced the joys of hearing powerful words spoken by your employer or supervisors, only later to find that their words were feeble. Otherwise stated, powerful words were spoken, giving you a promise of some job promotion or some raise, but budget cuts and lower sales projections shattered the once bold words.

Hitting a little more close to home we see just how powerless our words are in the family. Each year the following words are spoken with sincerity, conviction, and power:

I promise to be faithful to you in good times and bad, to love and cherish you in sickness and health, and be with you until death do us part.

Yes, these words are spoken at hundreds of marriages across our country only to result in 50% of marriages ending in divorce, divorce that tragically results in the death of family, pain, unsettledness, and distrust of marriage.

Dear friends, our words seem to lack power. We cannot call fish into the boat, we cannot create with our words, and we more often than not do the opposite of what we say.

Our sinful heart corrupts our words. Our words cannot produce and are not powerful, for we are stained and corrupted by sin. Indeed, we constantly sin in what we think, do, and ‘say.’

O Lord have mercy on you; Lord have mercy on me too.

We see something quite the opposite, though, in our Gospel reading from Luke.

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus, the Lord of creation and the Lord of the Lake calls fish and orders them into the nets that had not caught a single thing the entire night before. In fact, Jesus called so many fish into the nets that the boats began to sink.

Now, while this is a profound miracle for us to be in awe of, we must not get distracted by the large catch of fish. In other words, like many of Jesus’ miracles, we can easily get caught up in the miracle itself and miss the real point of what Jesus wishes to show us and give us. That is to say; the key to today’s Gospel lessons is not necessarily the fish, but the power of Jesus’ Word.

You see, that morning Jesus had been using Peter’s boat as a pulpit. We do not know exactly what Jesus was preaching, but we do know this, the people were gathering around listening to Jesus. After speaking the Word to the people, to show the crowd and the fishermen that His Word was no ordinary word, Jesus tells Peter to push out into the deep water and let down the nets for a catch.

Peter, though, lists all the reasons why he shouldn’t, and then says, “But at your Word, I will let down the nets.” And you know the rest of the story. The nets were filled. The fish were flopping in the boats. The boats were sinking. And then after the big catch, Jesus tells them that they haven’t seen anything yet because the disciples will be catching people in the same way.

Dear friends, the real miracle that day on the water is that the great catch of fish happened solely because of the Word – the power of Jesus’ Word.

And unlike the powerless-weak-dull-feeble words of mankind, Jesus’ Word does stuff. Stuff happens with Jesus when He speaks.

Dear friends, when Jesus spoke in the Scriptures, dead people come back to life. When Jesus spoke, demons shuttered. When Jesus spoke, the sea bowed and obeyed. When Jesus spoke, the blind saw, and the deaf heard.

And today, Jesus still speaks to you and me. Every time we hear His Word, the Lord Jesus is speaking. And when His Word is proclaimed, stuff happens. Indeed, when you were baptized, the water and Word were poured and spoken upon you, marking you one of the redeemed – you were brought from darkness to light. You were snatched from the kingdom of darkness and put into the kingdom of heaven.

And when you stand every Sunday confessing that you are poor miserable sinners, the Lord does not turn a deaf ear to you, but answers you through the mouth of His servant – the Pastor – saying, “I now forgive you of all your sins.”

And when you come forward to the altar with open hands, you hear and receive the body and blood of Christ given to you for the forgiveness of sins. Now, these are not mere powerless-weak-dull-and-feeble Words. The water, bread, and wine are not some symbolic props! No! None of this nonsense. The Lord’s Word and Sacraments are powerful and do stuff. When you hear the Lord’s Word and receive His Sacraments, you can know with absolute certainty that you are forgiven. Not just a little. Not just partly. But 100% percent forgiven because Jesus says so and Jesus’ Word is powerful.

The Word of Jesus – the Gospel – is not only the power of God unto your salvation here at St. Paul’s, but is also the very Word that we get to share and proclaim for Minot, for North Dakota, and for the ends of the earth.

Some, though, will tell us that we need to change the way the church worships and speaks because we are told that the church is outdated and no longer has anything to offer. Some will tell you that what we need is a new kind of flashy evangelism program. Some have even suggested that the cross should be removed from the church because it’s too offensive to see what Christ has done for us.

But all of these are the thoughts of mankind and not of God. Instead, our Lord invites us today to set our faith firmly on the power of His Word – the Word of Christ-crucified – and believe what He tells us through it. The Word of God is the power of God to do miracles like call fish into nets and it is the power of God to create faith and forgive sins in you, me, and our neighbors

And for that reason, Jesus would have us listen and take to heart that the real miracle of the nets being filled was by His Word alone. And it is by His Word alone that He continues to fill the net of His Gospel and bring more and more people into His church.

Dear Baptized Saints, Jesus’ Word is powerful. His Word is no ordinary word. It has the power to change lives, the power to forgive sins, and the power to grant eternal life to you and to all who hear and believe the truth that it proclaims.

So today, we continually receive it. We hear it. And as a church, we spread it through confessing, and the Lord will take care of the rest, for we know that the Lord’s Word is not powerless, but powerful. Yes, the Word is the power of God that we preach, teach, confess, and believe – today and forevermore.

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

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