Beckett: Homily – The Net of the Gospel

Date: April 20, 2023
Festival: Thursday of the Week of Easter 3
Text: Luke 5:1-11
Preaching Occasion: Lutheran High North, Macomb, MI

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

It’s a privilege to be with y’all this morning and to preach to you the Word of God. Again, my name is Pastor Beckett, and I’m the campus pastor at Christ the King Lutheran Chapel at Central Michigan University, which I’ll talk about more later. The Gospel reading for this Thursday of the 3rd week of Easter is Luke 5:1-11,

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on [Jesus] to hear the Word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and He saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, He asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at Your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the 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, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.

Don’t raise your hands, but how many of you, like Peter, have felt the total weight of your sin that you believed you were unworthy to come before Jesus? Maybe you keep suffering with a temptation of some kind, falling into that sin over and over again, and no matter how many times you repent, you feel like you don’t deserve Jesus’ forgiveness. Or maybe you’re uncertain about your identity; you don’t know who you are, so you’re not certain what relevance Jesus has to your life. Or maybe you’re depressed; you feel worthless, unlovable, meaningless.

Believe it or not, I get it. I know what each of those things are like. Depression had haunted me for more than 10 years of my life. Having that thorn of sin in your flesh feels like a barrier between you and God. You’re scared to approach Him. You don’t think you’re worthy enough to approach Him and ask for forgiveness. And identity, especially at this stage in your life, can be difficult to grasp. The world tells you that you should be this or that sexual orientation, and you can make up your own gender. The world tells me and others like me that I am always a victim because of the colour of my skin. But I know, and you know, that “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” [Rom. 8:37]. And the world tells you what you should believe about the Bible whereas God simply says, “This is the Word of the Lord.”

I don’t know what any of you are going through right now, if indeed you are “going through” anything. But I do know the weight and effects of sin in each of us. Even more, I know this Word from Jesus, “Do not be afraid.” Why? Because He says to His disciples, “From now on you will be catching men,” or more literally, “you will become fishers of men.” What does this mean? Instead of catching and killing fish to make a living, Peter and the other disciples will be catching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ for eternal life. They didn’t use fishing poles back then; as you just heard, they used nets. Yet they were having great difficulty in catching fish, until Jesus came along and performed the miracle that had them catch a large number of fish to the point that their nets were breaking. Then He calls them to be fishers of men, and He will again fill their nets with people as they cast the wide net of the Gospel.

What does this mean for you? Think of your pastors, even your teachers, as fishers of men. You might remember learning about Law & Gospel from them—that the work of the Law is to reveal your sin and your need for a Saviour, and the Gospel brings you forgiveness of sins according to Christ’s merit. So, maybe you are feeling the heavy guilt of sin on you. Maybe you think you are a great sinner like no one has ever sinned before. Yes, you are a great sinner, but Christ is a greater Saviour [Giertz, 23]. You know John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Now, take “the world” in that verse and replace it with your name. For God so loved you that He gave His only-begotten Son, that because you believe in Him you will not perish but have eternal life.

If you are suffering with feelings of worthlessness because of depression or something else, again think of this Word from Christ. You are worth so much to Jesus that He stepped down from His heavenly throne as God, became human, and died for you so that you might not die eternally but have eternal life in a resurrection just like His. Perhaps one of your parents has said something cheesy to you like, “I love you to the moon and back.” Only Jesus can say, “I love you to death and back.” You have so much worth to Jesus that He laid down His life for you and took it up again so that when you die, you also will rise to eternal life.

And if you are suffering with your identity, you never need to wonder who you are. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, God’s Word does say that “neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” The Christians in Corinth suffered with these sins too. But Paul continues, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” In other words, your identity is not in any of those sins that may try to lay a claim on you. Rather, your identity is in your Baptism—your identity is child of God, which shapes and forms everything else about you. God washed you from the dirt of your sin, He cleansed you and made you holy, He justified you—that means He has put you in the right—for the sake of Jesus Christ through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Whatever you might think of yourself, God only sees, “This is My beloved son, My beloved daughter, with whom I am well pleased.”

So then, the net of the Gospel is none other than the Word and Sacraments. Besides all the other things you need to know in life like science and math, your teachers also teach you God’s Word and about the Sacraments. Your pastors preach the Word of God to you every Sunday and he gives the Sacraments to you for the forgiveness of your sins. You’ve heard about Baptism already, that the font is where God has claimed you as His own—as His beloved, adopted child of God. When your pastor pronounces Holy Absolution over you, you can say with absolute certainty, “I am forgiven.” And when you go to the Lord’s Supper, you have tasted the sweet forgiveness of Christ. The devil wants you to despair because of your sin, but he knows he cannot undo what Jesus speaks to you in His Word and Sacraments.

The Word of God that said, “Let there be light” and there was light, is the same Word of God that says “I forgive you all your sins,” and you are forgiven; that says you are baptised for the forgiveness of your sins and made a child of God, and so you are; and that says “This is My body, this is My blood shed for you for the forgiveness of all your sins,” and so you are forgiven. So, when the devil tries to convince you that you are not worthy of Christ, you can say to that vile serpent, “Begone, Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! What you offer me is evil. Drink the poison yourself!” [Benedictine prayer]. You see, the devil is a bully. He throws your sin in your face and calls you names, but he has no right to name you. In your Baptism, God the Father has claimed you as His own with His triune name and pronounces you son, daughter, forgiven, pardoned, blameless, innocent.

So, like the disciples didn’t have to do anything to catch fish when Jesus was with them, so you don’t have to do anything to earn forgiveness or worth before His eyes. You have worth because He made you—you are fearfully and wonderfully made [Ps. 139:14]—and because He died and rose for you. He was thinking of you when He said on the cross, “It is finished.” The wide net of His Gospel was cast over you when you were baptised by a fisher of men—your pastor—and you were raised out of the waters not to be killed like usual fish, but to live in the ministry of Christ’s eternal life.

Let us pray: “Father, by the love of your Spirit, may we who have experienced the grace of the Lord’s resurrection rise to the newness of life in joy. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, [now and forever]. Amen” [Schumacher, 1065].


Giertz, Bo. The Hammer of God. Revised Edition. Minneapolis: Augsburg Books, 1960.

Schumacher, Frederick J., and Dorothy A. Zelenko. For All the Saints: A Prayer Book For and By the Church, Vol. I: Year 1, Advent to the Day of Pentecost. Delhi, NY: The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 2003.


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