“So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, ‘Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’ But Simon answered and said to Him, ‘Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.’ And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So 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. 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 which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.’ So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.”
The Lord Knew Everything about His Disciples
When we look at the Word from the Gospel of Luke chapter 5 here, we can see Jesus stood by the Lake of Gennesaret and saw that a few men, who became His disciples later, came out from a boat and were washing their net. Jesus got on the boat and Peter, who met the Lord here, became a disciple of the Lord. Simply put, the point of today’s Word is that the Lord works in times when we humans feel very distressed and powerless. We can see that the Lord comes to our lives and meets us with His precious Word when we are facing difficulties in our lives, and we have exhausted all our strength and we just cannot go on living with our own strength anymore, rather than when we are doing well. The Lord actually knew everything about His disciples. He knows our heritage and He knows what kind of person we are. Jesus knows everything about us humans because He is the very God who created us. Jesus Christ is God who knows the deepest things that even we do not know.
The field of genetic engineering has developed so much now that they analyze the DNA when a new child is born. Then, they claim to know what sickness that child will be stricken with, when he will die, and whether this child will be healthy or not and so on. They claim to know almost everything about a person’s physical life through the study of the person’s genetic map. But common people like us cannot interpret even a tiny portion of such a genetic map.
However, Our Lord knows everything about us, including our genetic maps. He really knows everything about us. First, the Lord knows all about our weaknesses. He also knows that we were born with sin from birth and that we commit sin throughout our life because of this. Our Lord knows everything about us because He is God who created us.
In addition, the Lord who knows everything about us comes to us personally when we are facing a difficult situation. God comes to us, the wretched people, personally and works in us with His Word. Then what do we do when the Lord comes to us like that? As the Apostle Peter said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” In the presence of the Lord after meeting the Lord, we acknowledge that we cannot stay close to the Lord because of our shortcomings when we stand before Him. One really can see very clearly his weak self that is totally exposed because every hidden sin is revealed and there is nothing that can be hidden when one stands before the presence of the Lord.
Our Lord knows everything about us; He knows what sinners we really are and what kind of people we are; and He is the Lord who resolves all our problems as well. Because the Lord knows everything about us, He makes us know about all our sins. By resolving all those sins through the baptism and the Cross, He blesses us to be His workers who do the righteous work before the presence of the God. I am so thankful for the fact that the Lord knows everything about us. I am also thankful because the Lord met us and saved us by resolving all our problems of sins through the baptism He received and the blood He shed on the Cross. The Lord made us God’s precious workers. We can only testify that the Lord’s grace is so great and so amazing, and give thanks to the Lord. I cannot but give sincere thanks to the Lord.
Here in today’s Scripture passage, the Apostle Peter said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Before meeting Jesus, the future disciples of Jesus actually let the net down all night long since early evening in order to catch fish. They let the net down all night long and then pulled up the net at early dawn. However, they did not catch any fish. They worked all night long, but the net was empty. As they sat there discouraged and dejected, Jesus got on the boat and said, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Then, Simon the Peter said, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net,” and they let down the net and they caught so many fish. Peter, who saw God’s work like this said to Jesus, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
Two Great Changes Occur When We Meet the Righteousness of the Lord
What happen if we meet with the righteousness of the Lord? First, we come to understand that we are sinners who commit terrible sins before the presence of God. What is the second change, then? We come to understand and believe that the Lord came to this world and received the baptism and died on the Cross to save us who are really wretched and terrible sinners who cannot possibly stand before the presence of God. Such great changes happen when we meet the Lord.
Peter said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” when he stood before the presence of the Lord. However, the Lord said to Peter, “From now on you will catch men.” Actually, when Peter came before the Lord’s presence, the Lord also knew what kind of sinner Peter was. Therefore, the Lord resolved all the problems of Peter’s sins, because Peter could not do any righteous work because of that sin. Peter could not stand before the presence of God due to his sins. The Lord, who is Peter’s God, became Peter’s Savior and approved Peter as the worker of His righteousness who could do the righteous work.
As such, the grace God has bestowed upon us is so great, and we are so grateful for it. We really were the offspring of sin who could not be close to the Lord like Peter who could only say before the presence of God, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” However, our Lord did not reject us who were like this, and came to us and clothed us with the precious grace of His salvation. The Lord took all our sins upon Him, washed them clean by personally receiving the baptism, and saved us perfectly by receiving the judgment for the sins on the Cross.
I give sincere thanks to the Lord. The Lord met us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, solved all our problem of sins, and made us righteous people to do the work of God’s righteousness. We really come to know how great and how deep God’s love is in all these things. Peter said here, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” and that was before Peter genuinely met the Lord. That was before Peter knew that the Lord washed all our sins clean by coming to this world and taking all our sins upon Him by receiving the baptism and dying on the Cross. Even though Peter said this, what did the Lord say? He said, “From now on you will catch men.” The Lord knows everything about our human life because the Lord created us. That is why the Lord is able to resolve all our problems related to life, and He really resolved all the problems of our life.
Without depending on the Lord, without the Lord blotting out his sins, without the Lord approving him as God’s people, Peter was a person who could not stand before the presence of our Lord. Peter was a person who could never stand before the presence of God without the grace of salvation the Lord gives. However, the Lord bestowed such amazing grace upon Peter and later made Him a precious servant of God.
Here, Peter said, “I am a sinful man,” and actually, how can a sinful human being stand unashamedly before Jesus Christ who is God? There is no one who could stand before the presence of God if he does not believe in the Word of salvation of the water and the blood with which Jesus Christ blotted out all our sins. Although we may be able to look at ourselves and say, “I am honest and upright in this world,” no one can stand boldly before the presence of the Lord. The only thing we can say standing before the presence of the Lord is, “I really have many shortcomings and I am weak. I am nothing. I am a person that deserves to go to hell. However, the Lord came to this world and saved me because He so loved me. I have received salvation by holding onto the grace of salvation the Lord has given with faith in my heart. That is the only reason I am able to stand before God and follow You, my Lord, and do the precious work You have entrusted to me. I am really thankful to You, Lord!”
We Were Such People
The grace God has bestowed upon us is this kind of love. We were really wretched sinners before we met the Lord and we were people who could not help but go to hell; we were people who could not receive cleansing of filthy sins. However, you and I have received salvation like this because the Lord met us and blotted out all our sins cleanly. The Lord washed our sins cleanly and made us the instruments of God’s righteousness. God has approved us as saints and workers who do not have sin; people who do the righteous work of spreading the love and salvation of the Lord to other people.
In today’s Scripture passage here, the future disciples of Jesus came out of the boats and washed the net. We must also wash the net spiritually whenever we do something. We must wash the net cleanly and also mend the torn parts. The farmers plant seeds and sprinkle fertilizers and insecticide to harvest fruits of their labor like that. It is the same with fishing. You cannot catch fish just by dropping the net down at anytime and then pulling it up. Catching fish in the sea is the same as farming. They must wash the net every day and they must wash it even more if fish were not caught. Because they cannot catch fish if the net has a lot of filthy things on it. They must clean it even more and also mend the torn parts of the net.
I know such things well because I used to live near the sea. There used to be sea mammals called “water pigs” in the sea of Gadeok Island, and I think they are probably some kind of dolphins. The sea mammal was really as big as a pig and fishermen disliked it the most because it was just a mass of fat. In addition, when they were caught in the net they twisted and turned wildly and ripped up the net everywhere. That was another reason why fishermen disliked that mammal the most. Anyway, fishermen should be prepared to throw the net. Therefore, they have to wash the net and also mend the net each time they finish fishing.
I am publishing many books with my coworkers these days and this is really difficult and tiring. I just handed over the manuscripts that I have revised, and I think I may have overdone it. I feel really exhausted physically. Maybe I went beyond my physical capability, and I feel sick to my bones. We humans become sick when we do more than our capability. Though we may be fine spiritually, flesh becomes sick when we use up too much strength and have too much stress. Every other part of my body now seems to have broken down, and during these times, I think “It would be nice to be an idiot and do not think about anything.”
As I have been going through this physical hardship, I thought the other ministers working with me must be so tired and exhausted with so much work and I am thinking that we must share the work with more workers. We become exhausted when we do too much work. Therefore, I am thinking that we need to divide up the work and do the entrusted work only within our capability. Actually, I have been so deeply engaged in my work these days that it has been very difficult even to share fellowship with the saints. Therefore, I intend to divide up the work of publication to lighten my burden, and go and do some work overseas, meet fellow saints, and spend some time thinking about the grace the Lord has given to me also.
Anyway, we can do God’s work well when we always wash the net and mend it. Here, the Lord said to Peter, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Then, Peter said, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net,” and threw down the net. Generally, there aren’t many fish in deep waters and there usually are more fish near the shore. Of course, there are fish in deep waters too, but they are harder to catch because they drift along with currents.
Though it did not make sense to Peter who was an experienced fisherman, he said he would do this because the Lord told him to do so, and he ended up catching so many fish when he did according to the Lord’s Word. He had to ask all his friends help him pull up the net because there were too many fish and it was too difficult to pull up the net by himself. He caught so many fish that the net was about to tear. Peter thought at that time, “This person is not an ordinary person. He knows things beyond common sense. He came to realize that He is the Son of God. That’s why the first thing Peter said when he met the Lord was, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” Peter came to know the Deity of Jesus. He came to know that Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior. Realizing who Jesus was, Peter knelt before His presence and said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
We must fully know who the person that saved us from the sins of the world is; who the person that we believe in is; and what grace of salvation the Lord has bestowed upon us. However, you may think, “So, we have been saved from the sin. But, why do you talk about that every day? Don’t you know anything else besides that?” Do you really think the grace of salvation is so minute? It is not like that. It’s just that the grace, love, and salvation of the Lord that met us, blotted out our sins, and made us the instruments of His righteousness are so profound and so great. Therefore, we, the born-again Christians, cannot help but talk about this whenever we open our mouth. We cannot live any other way than to talk about the salvation God has given to us, praise God, give glory to God, be thankful to God, and give our hands, feet, mouth, and all our bodies to the Lord as God’s servants until we take our last dying breath. What is the reason? It’s because you and I have received such great grace from the Lord. We have actually received such amazing grace.
Let’s say a person has died for us. Just thinking of that brings tears and makes us become so thankful. Just the same, today’s Christians shed tears with gratitude when they think, “Jesus died in our place.” However, we must confirm something in our hearts here. Such degree of faith, thinking, and thanksgiving can be found in any human society. For example, let’s say someone went into a fortress of an enemy and he was at the brink of death with no way out, but a certain person saved him and he was able to live and the person who saved him died in the process. How grateful would he really be? He would not be able to forget the person who saved him all his life, and live with thankfulness throughout the rest of his life.
But, the gratefulness to the Lord for the salvation He has given to us cannot be compared to this. The Lord really has bestowed to you and me the unfathomable love and salvation that cannot be compared with anything found in human society.
Think about this: The Lord has made you and me sinless, made us God’s people, and made us the righteous. Then, how can that compare with the love of someone dying for another person to rescue him? Is God’s love the kind of love that can be found in human society, too? No, it is not like that. The love of the Lord is not the kind of love that people of this world can give. It is not a love that can be found in this world.
Even people in this world perform ceremonies and make statues to commemorate a person who died for another person. If that is the case, how can you and I, who have received salvation, forget the love of salvation that the Lord has given? We can never forget this. You and I can never forget the grace of the Lord and we cannot help but be thankful for that eternally. We cannot help but give thanks to the Lord because we know how deep and great this salvation, and the grace that the Lord has given to us is. I am really grateful that the Lord made such a person like me God’s precious servant.
Our body is so weak that we become exhausted even when we do just a little amount of work, or when we are stressed even a little bit. Before, I was confident about deliberating over certain things and I could stay up all night for a few days and have no problem. But now, I become totally worn out when I just overwork one night. Anyway, I am thankful the Lord made me His servant even though I am lacking, and bestowed such great salvation upon me. I want you to remember this. We must not forget how God has saved you and me and what great grace God has given to you and me. The grace the Lord has bestowed upon us is so great and so precious.
How could we become a person without sin with our own strength? No one can become a person without sin through human means and strength. However, the Lord said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). God Almighty gave us eternal and sinless life by coming to this world in human flesh, receiving the baptism, and dying on the Cross to blot out all our sins and being resurrected from death. We have become righteous through God saving us like that and through our faith of believing in that salvation.
That is right. We have now become a person without sin. It is natural for us to be without sin after being born again, but it is absolutely impossible without God’s special love and salvation. We have become righteous people without sin because the Lord has bestowed us with great and amazing salvation. We cannot help but be thankful for this. It is because the Lord Almighty has fulfilled the work that we could not even hope for.
Let’s always believe and follow the Lord with grateful hearts for making such inadequate people like us sinless and making us the righteous. As we look at ourselves, we must have the grateful mindset before the presence of God who saved us. That is really true. Are you also like that? We were really nothing, but we have been catching many fish since we started to believe in and follow the Lord according to His Word. We really were people who always disappointed; but what happened after meeting and believing in the Lord. Haven’t we received precious blessings before the presence of God? Our spiritual net is filled with fish. What great blessings we have actually received? You and I are people who have received many blessings. Do you also believe this?
Do you think, “What did He give us after we have received salvation? What blessings?” Such a person has not even become a young child yet spiritually. How does a child react when he meets his parents? He smiles and moves about playfully to show his gratefulness, right? Even a little child knows that parents are precious. Even a child cries and weeps when his parents are gone. If you do not have gratefulness in your heart even after you have received salvation, then it is proof that you have not even become a little child yet.
You must be mature in your faith and faith must grow. In addition, you must attend the meeting diligently and listen to God’s Word often if you want your faith to grow. God did not give us a blessing that does not mean much. He gave us an amazing grace. He gave us a great blessing. Do you believe this? There is no blessing greater than this in the world. No blessing can be compared to the blessing of salvation the Lord has given to us. The Lord bestowed such a great blessing to all mankind.
I will end this sermon with thanksgiving before the presence of our Lord who has given this blessing to us. Halleluiah!