Summary: Year C Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany February 4th, 2001
Year C Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany February 4th, 2001
Lord of the Lake Lutheran Church
Web page http://lordofthelake.org
By The Rev. Jerry Morrissey, Esq., Pastor
Heavenly Father, “I am a sinful person,” thank you for sending Jesus to pay for my sins by his death on the cross. Amen.
Title: “I am a sinful person.”
Luke 5: 1-11
Simon and his companions, after listening to Jesus teach, obeyed his command to fish one more time, resulting in a large catch. Jesus then calls them “to catch men,” whereby they leave all and follow him.
This story set before the resurrection and John 21: 1-14 set after the resurrection share so many details that they are probably different interpretations of the same event: the call of Simon. In both accounts, after fishing all night, the disciples have caught nothing. Jesus commands them to let the nets down. They do so and make an enormous catch. The effect on the nets is noted. Peter reacts to the miracle. Jesus is called “Lord.” The other fishermen present say nothing. In both, the motif of following Jesus is present, and the catch of fish is symbolic of missionary success. These two versions give us a clue to the formation of the gospel accounts. The writers use the same material, but place it in different settings for their own theological reasons.
Similarly, in Acts there are three accounts of Paul’s conversion experience each one similar, yet different. Be it Peter’s call or the foundational call to establish the Church upon Peter’s confession, the order of post-resurrection appearances of Jesus or other differences in the Gospels, Acts and Epistles, the differences in details and locales illustrate that these are eye-witness accounts at heart and so they will depend on the powers of recollection of the source. They were passed on for years and so would undergo variation in the passage. Finally, the writers would put the passed-on stories at the service of their overriding perspective and use them to teach truth even at the expense of correctness, a sort of “poetic license.”
In verse one, listening to the word of God: By Luke’s time “word of God” was a synonym for “Gospel,” good news. Simon and everyone else is called after truly listening to the words of Jesus.
Lake of Gennesaret: Luke always calls this body of water a lake, whereas the other evangelists follow the Old Testament and call it a sea. It is 13 miles by 7 miles and 700 feet below sea level. Only here is it called “Gennesaret”; elsewhere it is called “Galilee” and Chinneroth in Old Testament and Tiberias twice in John.
In verse two, washing their nets: After a night’s fishing the nets would be washed out and hung up to dry.
In verse three boat: This would be an open craft some 20 to 30 feet long. It provided a platform free from the congestion of the crowd. According to custom the speaker sat and listeners stood.
Crowd: Luke presumably regarded the crowd as dispersing before the following miracle. At any rate they disappear from the scene. The story has been so condensed that it contains a number of inconcinnity’s, perhaps because two or more sources have been conjoined.
In verse four Simon: As captain of the boat, an allusion to his leadership role, Jesus addresses him personally in the singular “Put out” and then all the others in the plural “Lower your nets”.
In verse five: Master: This title is a general term for anyone in authority like our “Boss”, and is used only in this gospel, seven times, in addressing Jesus. Later, Peter will address Jesus as “Lord,” a much deeper term.
All night long…nothing: In the most respectful way Peter is asking why should experts, that is, life-long fishermen, listen to an ex-carpenter? Night was the best time for fishing. Fish do not swim near the surface in deep waters during the day. They had caught nothing using their timeworn and tested practices.
Side bar: Actually, they never caught a single fish in the gospel accounts without the help of Jesus! Some fishermen! All their efforts were in vain.
But, if you say so: This is not to mollify Jesus, but is an expression of confidence in his perceptive powers. Many a miracle does not happen because we give up too soon and do not try one more time.
In verse six nets at breaking point: This detail is meant to establish the enormous success they had, impossible to explain on human terms, techniques and tactics.
In verse eight a sinful man: In John’s use of the story “sinful” would obviously refer to Peter’s denial. As Luke tells it, it speaks of the general condition of sin and unworthiness and fear in the presence of divinity. Side bar: reference Isaiah 6: 1-8, the first reading.