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The Rev. Charlie Camlin: “The Miraculous Catch of Fish” (Luke 5:1-11)

June 30, 2008

If you have ever wondered, as I have, about the lack of success in evangelism for many of our churches, the sermon The Miraculous Catch of Fish by the Rev. Charlie Camlin of Holy Trinity REC may well provide some answers to this.  Fr. Camlin bases this sermon on Luke 5:1-11 and he points out some profound lessons from this account.  Here are two lessons he draws from the example of St. Peter:

Finally, St. Peter gives a powerful example here both for ministers of the gospel and for all Christians in general. Two of his virtues in particular shine through in this story. First of all, we see his example of obedience. He is first obedient as Jesus enters the boat and tells him to launch out from the shore. Then he is obedient, even against his own judgment, to launch out into the deep to go fishing again. And then he is obedient to answer Christ’s call to follow Him in fishing for men. We are told that he and the others forsook their boats and followed Him. Ministers of the gospel would do well to follow Peter’s obedience in simply doing what his Master told him to do. We are not told that we have to come up with fancy plans or catchy sermons. What we are told is that we are to follow our Lord in preaching and teaching God’s Word. That is what St. Peter and the other Apostles did and they turned the world upside down. Their success came from having the Lord in the boat and from following the Lord’s example. If we will simply do that, the Lord will draw men into the net. But just as Peter and the others could not drag the overflowing nets into the boat by themselves, they needed helpers. That is what the people of the Church are called to do—to assist in bringing the net into the boat. Every Christian has a role in the Church. Not everyone is called to preach or teach but you can lend a hand in bringing the net into the boat. This calls for obedience to the Lord from every one of us.

The second lesson that we see in this story from St. Peter is humility. When he realized who was in the boat with him, he fell on his knees in the presence of the Son of God. He recognized his own sinfulness and his unworthiness to be in the presence of such holiness. There is a deep history of God’s servants realizing this. In fact, there are some interesting parallels between this story and the call of the prophet Isaiah. You will recall that when Isaiah had a vision of the LORD in chapter 6, he responded by saying “woe is me—for I am a man of unclean lips.” Then the LORD reassured him of His grace by cleansing his lips and then sent him out to preach to the people. The same thing happens here. When God’s ministers will humble themselves before God and acknowledge their unworthiness for such an awesome task, then God can cleanse and empower them to do His bidding. But the same is true for all Christians. If we would participate in building up the Kingdom of God, we must learn to be humble. He who exalts himself shall be humbled but he who humbles himself shall be exalted. We are to follow our Lord in humbling ourselves to help those who cannot help themselves.

Obedience and humility: I dare say that if we followed the example of Peter in these, the Church of today would have an impact as great as the Apostles did in their time.  But weak indeed is a Church that shows neither of these–if it retains life at all.

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