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Get Out of Here, Jesus!

Luke 5:1-11; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

The trouble with Jesus is that Jesus just won’t stay in the church where many think he belongs. As the result of Christian missionaries, our society and culture have conveniently accommodated our faith by making Sunday a day off for many people. For some businesses like restaurant and transportation workers, Sundays are never a day of worship let alone a day of rest. But for a good many of us, Sundays have been set aside to come to church like the way we have done today to be with Jesus.

We like this clear demarcation of Sunday being a day of worship leaving the rest of the weekdays available for the other interests in our lives. We can deal with Jesus an hour a week if he would leave us alone the rest of the time to do and think the way we want to. It’s the reason why we plan most of our church activities on Sunday afternoons because it is inconvenient to give up weeknights on the other days in the week for God.

But the trouble with Jesus is that Jesus won’t stay in church where many think he belongs. It’s not fair when we suddenly find Jesus invading our lives as we run around town doing our errands or when we are sitting in front of the computer screen or at a meeting in our day-to-day work. It is not fair that Jesus is at work all seven days of the week, never taking a day off for himself. We rather deal with God confined to the hours on Sunday than the other six days of the week.

Out Fishing

As far as we know Jesus was teaching the word of God on a working day. The fishermen have already come back on shore, cleaning out their nets having caught nothing the night before. Since the crowds of people were pressing in on him, Jesus got into one of the boats and asked Simon to put out the boat in the lake to accommodate the large crowd of people on the shore seeking to hear Jesus teach.

After Jesus finished speaking, he told Simon to sail the boat out farther to the deeper part of the lake to catch some fish. Jesus was sticking his nose into Simon’s work. He was not about to be limited to just being an itinerant preacher or just a carpenter. But Jesus was not a fisherman. Jesus didn’t know that no one fished in the daylight. The fish could see and avoid the nets in the daylight.

To humor Jesus, Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” What the fishermen experienced next was beyond belief—they caught so many fish that they had to signal their partners in the other boat to come haul in the fish.

When Jesus shows up during the weekdays at your work, he turns things up side down. There’s nothing ordinary about your work anymore. Difficult decisions now have answers. Failures are turned into successes. All bets are off. What we once thought won’t work, Jesus said, “Trust me and try this” and we realize that one plus one does not equal two when it comes to Jesus!

Get Out of Here!

When the two boats were filled with fish, Simon Peter realized that it was not that there was a lack of fish; it was his lack of faith. It’s then that he blurts out, “Get away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” In the Greek, the translation is, “Get out of my neighborhood!”

We don’t like it when Jesus invades and intrudes into our ordinary lives on what supposed to be ordinary workdays. Simon Peter and the others could have gone home like they may have many days before having caught no fish and ate frozen filet that night. And that would have been okay. They could have told their families that they worked real hard trying this and trying that and even when they caught nothing, it was still a “hard day’s night.”

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But when Jesus comes, all bets are off. Anything can happen when Jesus appears. Not only is life interrupted but we realize that we need more faith. We need to have more faith that fishing in broad daylight can catch fish. Casting our nets on the other side even though we have done this many times before will catch fish.

Faith is doing something that Jesus commanded regardless of the evidence against it working. So out of a deep and personal realization, Simon Peter tells Jesus to “Get out of here” because Jesus was invading his typical understanding of what good fishing is. Jesus was intruding into Simon Peter’s everyday workday and he found himself a “sinful man.”

When we don’t like Jesus showing up on days other than Sundays, we might say to him, “Get out of here, Jesus! Get out of my neighborhood!”

In the epistle lesson for today, we can also see Jesus getting up close and personal with the apostle Paul. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 summarized in a few short lines, the story of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But then he gets personal.

Paul said the risen Christ appeared to Cephas, to the 12 disciples, to more than 500 Christian brothers and sisters, to James and then to all the apostles. Then in 1 Corinthians 15:5-8, Paul said “Last of all, he appeared also to me.”

Paul as we know first persecuted Christians but Christ intruded into his ordinary job of arresting Christians and transformed him into the greatest apostle ever. On that Damascus road, Christ invaded Paul’s life and he couldn’t get Christ out of his life from that point on. Paul said, “By the grace of God, I am who I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain.”

Christ with Us

God is with us even when we may be fooling around. At the University of Texas, a fraternity decided to mock a revival session for the school talent show. One was the designated preacher, some formed the choir, others filled the Amen corner. There was one last rehearsal in the gym before the show was scheduled to begin. The mocking preacher was saying all kinds of things about Jesus, the choir and Amen corner were really humming, and then at the altar call, which was overly dramatic, something happened.

A custodian who did not know it was a skit and had been listening in the corner came forward and knelt down and gave his heart to Christ Jesus.

If God can intrude into Paul’s job of persecuting Christians or Simon Peter’s job of a fisherman, God can intrude into what were supposed to be a mockery of our faith and still change people’s lives! Although we rather push Jesus away from us, Jesus comes and we realize that we are sinful people.

God is with us even at the most fearful of times. A little boy named Eddie came to church on a Sunday night before he was to undergo another series of surgeries. He wrote on a piece of paper and left it in the offering plate, “God, take care of this. I’m scared of hospitals and doctors. I don’t want to be put to sleep. Thank you. Eddie Cooper.”

The pastor prayed for Eddie and his family. But when the medical staff took Eddie from the arms of his parents, the father became angry at God, “Couldn’t you at least take away his fears!”

When Eddie came out of recovery he shared how an angel in white had told him it would be all right and how she had stroked his arm just like his mother did to calm him down. The father knew it was a nurse and not an angel, but only he and Eddie’s mother knew how to calm him down by stroking his right arm between the wrist and the elbow. God is never far from us and his love and mercies are always on time.

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Catching People

I want you to think about this church and all the people who make up this congregation. You may be amazed to hear about the many times that Jesus invaded and intruded into our everyday lives. It may be the Sunday school when you heard of a student who spoke up for the caring of another. It may be the women’s society who helped when no one else came forward and brought healing and love to someone who needed it. It may be that you were on your way to church one Sunday and a greater need suddenly appeared in front of you and you had to stop everything on your schedule that day to lend a hand because God invaded your day.

When we let God come into our lives, we can see Jesus in everything we are doing. It’s like the three brick masons who were laying brick on a massive project. The first one was asked what he was doing. “I am laying brick.”

The second one was asked the same thing; “I am making a living for my family.”

The third responded, “I am building a great cathedral where people for hundreds of years to come will gather to worship God.”

All three were correct, but only one of them had a large enough vision to carry him through the long haul of life. Only the third mason saw that in his everyday life, Jesus is working side by side with him giving him the faith to live his life with God.

When Simon Peter, James and John, sons of Zebedee and many others who were fishing that day hauled in all the fish, they were amazed and afraid of seeing Jesus invading and intruding into their ordinary lives of fishermen. They all probably wanted Jesus to just go away.

But Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him. Can you imagine whatever happened to all that fish that they just left on the beach to follow Jesus? Perhaps the teeming crowd who listened to Jesus preached had a fish bake on the beach. But all we know is that the disciples left everything and followed Jesus to catch people.

When Jesus comes interrupting your daily schedule, whom does he want you to catch so that they will come to know Jesus’ love and grace? Does Jesus want you to catch the neighbor who has not heard of Jesus Christ yet? Does Jesus want you to catch someone who is not a part of your tribal group? Is Jesus calling you to go beyond your comfort zone and to go outside your borders to catch unreached people for the Lord?

We are no longer catching fish anymore, we are catching people because Jesus invades and intrudes into our lives not just when we are here on Sundays but in everyday of the year and wherever we might be.

Let us pray.

Lord Jesus, in the face of so many setbacks, disappointments, and discouragements, we tend to lose heart. Our strength is unequal to the tasks that are set before us. We do not have, within ourselves, what we need to triumph. Yet you come to us, you speak to us, reassure us, and enable us to go on, to triumph, and to see the dawn of a new day. Continue to invade and intrude into our lives and our world so that we may know you as Lord. Thanks be to God who does for us more than we can do for ourselves. Amen.

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