Fifth Sunday after Trinity
GRANT, O Lord, we beseech thee, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance, that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ our Lord.Amen.
This prayer was composed at a time when the vicious enemies – Huns, Vandals, Goths – were at the gates of Rome; therefore, its expressions were made from hearts totally aware of their dependence upon the mercy of God. As a product of the Gregorian Sacramentary, the prayer concerns the Reformation Doctrine of the First Use of the Law. (Barbee & Zahl) The First Use of the Law is a restraining force in the world against all wickedness. Without a moral restraint, the world would become so completely wicked that life could not exist. The Second Use of the Law, not addressed here, is the function of the Law as a mirror to our imperfections in the face of the Law – a school teacher which demands a greater perfection than we are ever able to attain, but must strive for.
Why do we have “wars and rumors of war” in all quarters of the world? We see a contrast of beliefs that are diametrically opposed to one another abroad in the world today. The three major beliefs are Christianity, atheism, and Islam. You may discount the second (atheism) for it is a feigned belief . Every atheist knows, as does every other human being, that there is a God. But the atheist is in denial due to the dire ramifications the existence of God has for his demented soul. But Islam is a different story. Even more demented than the atheist, the Muslim believes that his god is Allah, and that Allah desires the wholesale slaughter, by the cruelest means, of all who will not bow the knee to his wicked rule. I believe that Satan himself would devise such a religion if he had the time – and he presently does have the time. Having lived in Iran BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER the Islamic Revolution there, I feel that I have some credibility to advance an informed assessment on the evils of Islam. I will not, here, go into the heart-sickening details. But I can say with certainty that faith, professed at the point of the sword, is no faith at all.
Our Prayer of Collect today reminds that there does exist the possibility of a peaceable kingdom, but that Kingdom must find its governance in a Holy God and not a false one. The peace of God is a peace that cannot be comprehended through the designs and opinions of man: And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:7) Such a peace cannot be possessed by a people who are nominal Christians, but only by those who have taken on the Mind of Christ. His Mind does not vindictively pursue those who are ignorant of Him, but seeks them out in love to open their eyes to the Light that scatters the darkness and ennobles the soul.
This Prayer asks for a grant from the proper source – the Lord! GRANT, O Lord. You may beg alms from a pauper all you please, but your need will never be granted because the pauper has no means by which your prayer may be granted. If we have great need, with no means of satisfying within our own means, we must go to the One who has the resources to grant our request. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. ……. call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. (Psalms 50:10, 11, 15)
Our petition is not an ultimatum for we have no grounds to demand anything of the Most High King. GRANT, O Lord, we beseech thee. Standing in the need of favors which we are powerless to acquire of our own volition, we approach the Throne of Grace as children begging for the mercy and favor of a loving Father. There is a different approach to that Throne being deceitfully preached from the sensational pulpits of America today that claims we can DEMAND anything of God and He is bound to grant the demand. What an evil and foolish lie. The very definition of a King is that He is Sovereign on His Throne. He may grant grace, or withhold mercy, to whom He pleases and for reasons that are His alone. But I can assure you of this one point: anything besought of God that is in accord with His own Will to grant, shall be granted. So, if we have taken on the Mind of Christ, our requests shall be uttered out of that Mind. But if we harbor some hidden wickedness in our hearts, God will not hear our petitions. We dare not get angry with God if He does not hear our prayers. We may not blame His Holy ears for being unhearing. When our prayers are not heard, we need to look within, not seeking excuses without: If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: (Psalms 66:18)
Should we ask our prayers to be granted out of selfish desires? The model prayer our Lord taught us to pray has no such selfish interest at heart except that we receive only our daily bread. We also pray in the Lord’s Prayer that God’s will be done “on earth as it is in Heaven.” Is this truly the desire of our hearts? It certainly should be for, if God’s will is done, it will be done by His people and for His purposes. There will be no abuse of little children, no murders or theft, no cruel wars, no rape or adultery – for the Will of God prohibits any slight wickedness. And so we pray “. . . that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance. All who disobey the Sovereign of a Kingdom are rebels to His authority. His rule is not borne by an iron yoke, but a light and easy to bear yoke of love. But the children of the devil cannot abide such a yoke, for love and obedience thereto are alien to their hearts which are full of evil imaginations. One only needs to consider the beheadings and brutal treatment of innocents in the Middle East to pray that such evil never invades our own shores and borders. I fear that we are, by our own presnt wickedness as a nation, inviting the same into our very parlors.
What is the objective of the God-governed peace for which we plead? “….that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness.” Please note that one of the benefits of a Godly governance is joy. We not only seek to serve God in quiet obedience, but even joyfully do so. Unbelievably so, there are far greater numbers of Christians being martyred today than in any previous period of the history of the world. Can we fathom that? As God’s Word becomes more generally known, evil also abounds the more – for Satan knows his days are numbered and his death throes are horrendous. If we are one with Jesus Christ, He will be One with us. When we go seeking for mercy of the Father, we had best take His only Begotten Son along with us to plead our cause, and it shall be granted assuredly. Godly quietness is not peace at all cost, but a Godly peace – a peace that acknowledges love, mercy, and grace to be grants of God to us, and to our fellows.
“ 1And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, 2And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing theirnets. 3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. 4Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.5And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 6And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 7And they beckoned unto theirpartners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. 8When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 9For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: 10And so wasalso James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.11And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.”(Luke 5:1-11)
Jesus stands by the lake of Gennesaret and is urged by the people to speak to them the Word of God. Every Word that Jesus spoke was the Word of God for Christ is God also. And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret
Why would so many people follow every move of Christ and seek to hear Him?
1) Christ did not differentiate between Prince and Pauper. He treated all men alike with respect and dignity as human beings only.
2) Though Christ, was sinless, He was kind to all sinners except the hypocrites (Pharisees and Sadduccees).
3) He cared most for those who were oppressed and poor.
4) He recognized the needs of men and women.
5) Jesus taught the pure Word and not the diffused and diluted Word taught in many churches of our day.
And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing theirnets. 3 And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.
These two ships had finished the day’s work. The fisherman were washing their nets which suggests that they had caught no bounty of fish else they would have first taken the fish to the market before they spoiled.
Christ decides to make a separation of Himself from the people during His preaching. This is a concern to every minister. We, too, must separate ourselves, not only from the world when we preach, but even from our own selfish desires. So Jesus makes a distance from the people to better assess them and conduct His teaching. The boat He commandeers to accomplish this belongs to Simon Peter.
And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Jesus was the Teacher. The people were the students. Jesus sat down to teach because He taught with Authority. The people, as students, stood to receive the Word eagerly.
He spoke from the waters to the land. Just as the refreshing showers of blessing are drawn up from the sea into the air masses and move landward, so were the Words of Truth dispensed from the very Water of Life.
Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.
Christ was never guilty of any lapse in courtesy or failure to reciprocate a favor. He had used Simon’s ship, now He will recompense Simon therefor.
And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. Again, proof that all the labors of the day had failed to get any fish. The sea may not give up its bounty to man, but it certainly will give up its bounty to its Maker. In fact, the day will come when all the dead even who have perished in the sea will come up out of the sea and even from Hell itself! (Rev 20:13 – And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.The Creator of all Creation exercises power over it.
Though Simon doubts of the result, he will nevertheless let down the net at the command of Christ. To Simon, this is a waste of time. That which makes no sense to man makes an abundance of sense to God.
And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 7 And they beckoned unto theirpartners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.
Please note that this was no ordinary fishing expedition. These fishermen had never caught so many fish as to sink their boats. Look at how profusely Christ repays those who are gracious and who obey His Word even when they doubt the result somewhat. We, too, must obey the Word of God even if we cannot imagine any benefit to ourselves.
When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:
We are not worthy to be in God’s presence; however, He has allowed us to come to Him. Our being in the presence of God requires reverence, unlike the screaming and shouting we observe in many churches. God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that areabout him. Psalms 89:7
Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God isa consuming fire. Heb 12:28-29
The miraculous catch of fish was adequate proof to Simon of who Christ was coupled with all else he had witnessed. He knew himself to be unworthy of Christ. Do we so recognize that we are not worthy either – that it is simply by God’s grace that we are made worthy.
So were the other two called apostles: And so wasalso James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon.
If they believed catching such a tremendous number of fish was exceptional, Christ will further make them fishers of men so that their nets will be overloaded – And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.
Fisherman are persistent in their labors.
They know WHERE to fish, and for how long.
They know what will attract fish to their nets.
They know the TIME to fish.
These fish were taken alive just as men must be taken alive. Once dead, they are of no account to God or the Church.
This is a progressive call to Peter, James, and John.
The first call: 35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; 36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye?They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? 39 He saith unto them, Come and see.They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. 42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas,which is by interpretation, A stone. John 1:35-42
The second call: 18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.20 And they straightway left theirnets, and followed him. 21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the sonof Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. 22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him. Matt 4:18-22(KJV)
We see a progressive role being established here – 1st, a stone. 2nd, fishers of men, and 3rd, not only fishing for men, but catching them in abundance.
Each of us has been called of Christ to a mission with a specific role. Are we still at the point of loitering by the sea, working to convert souls, or have we arrived at the point where our efforts are so credible that men will follow?