Monday, April 11, 2016

Sermon for Easter 3: "Jesus Does Everything"

+ 3rd Sunday of Easter – April 10th, 2016 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series C: Acts 9:1-22; Revelation 5:1-14; John 21:1-14

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Every episode of the beloved children’s program Sesame Street begins the same way: the theme song, the number for the day, and of course, the word on the street. It’s the word of the day, and it sets the theme for the rest of the show.

Today’s Gospel reading from John 21 is somewhat similar. Today’s word on the street, or better yet, by the seashore is vocation.

Usually we take the word vocation to mean just “our job”. But in the Scripture it’s so much more than that. It’s our calling. Our calling into faith in Jesus by the waters of Holy Baptism. And our calling in all the places where God sends us to serve at home, church, school, work, in our community, and the list goes on.

It was the disciples’ vocation to follow Jesus, hear his word, and then after his resurrection to continue the work of casting nets and fishing, not for fish, but for living men, not with hooks or nets, but with the Gospel. And it was Jesus’ vocation (his calling) to be our Crucified and Risen Lord. To be born for you, live for you, suffer for you, die for you, rise for you. Jesus gave his life to serve you. And so, wherever God places us, that’s where we find our vocation, our calling.

Take for example the vocation familiar to many of us, that of parent, whether it’s us or our own parents. It’s the vocation of parents to provide everything the children need: clothing, shoes, home, food, water, diaper changing, chauffeuring here and there, and the list goes on. Why? Selfless love for others – that’s the calling, vocation, of parents. And parents – imperfect sinners though we are – are still a glimpse of God’s fatherly care for us.

Now, today’s Gospel reading may be a completely different setting but something similar is happening to the disciples. They were out fishing on the sea of Tiberias, they had caught nothing all night, and then as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore and called out to them: “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.”  He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” 

It’s a familiar story. When Jesus first called his disciples, they had been fishing all night with no fish to show for it. Jesus told them to lower the nets. And there were so many fish they needed extra boats to haul it all to shore. A preview of Jesus’ work through the disciples later as they labored for the Gospel.

But notice how tenderly Jesus called to his disciples? Children. And then Jesus provides everything for them. He gave them fish in their nets. He prepared breakfast for them. Gave them bread and fish by the seashore. And once again, he showed himself to the disciples after his resurrection from the dead.

Jesus does everything for his disciples after his death and resurrection just as he had done everything for them before Good Friday and Easter. Jesus is the selfless giver of all things for his disciples, for his Church, and for you.

Today we find ourselves in the same boat with the disciples (yes, pun intended). In our family life at home, and in our family life in the household of God, the Church we are God’s children. And once again, Jesus does everything for you.

It is just as Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.  Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

Why children? Children are dependent upon their parents for everything. Children are born into a family – they didn’t choose it or earn it; the name and inheritance are gifts to them. Children also trust their parents and look to them for all good things.

For us and the disciples this means a revolution in how we look at God. We must give up all bragging rights on what good little boys and girls we’ve been. We must drop all attempts at earning our Father’s favor by what we think, say, or do. We must drop dead to every futile effort to crawl over our brothers and sisters just to get a better seat on the Father’s lap. In other words, repent. Give up on self-reliance. Give up on self-justification. Give up your self-love.

And instead, listen to the voice of Jesus. He calls you as he did his disciples: Children. Come, and eat breakfast. Jesus prepared everything.

Listen to Jesus’ voice and look to his cross and empty tomb. Jesus has done everything for you. Jesus was born for you. Grew as a little child for you. Jesus submitted to father and mother for you. Jesus perfectly trusted the Father for you. Jesus was obedient to his Father’s will for you.

Listen to Jesus’ voice in Holy Baptism where you are made God’s child: I Baptize you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Listen to Jesus’ voice at his holy table where he feeds you holy food to nourish you in body and soul: Take, eat; take, drink. This is body given for you. This is my blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.

Listen to Jesus’ voice in the absolution: you are forgiven all your sins.

This is how Jesus is known by his disciples on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias and the shores of Huntington Beach. By his abundant, overwhelming, gracious giving to sinners.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.

That’s our vocation, our calling as God’s children. We receive everything that Jesus has done, is doing, and will do for us. And yet, our vocation doesn’t end there. It goes on. Having received, we give. We love because he first loved us.

Jesus called his disciples to be fishers of living men. Cast your nets…and you will find some. And so he calls us.

That’s why we have a preschool to teach the faith by singing, praying, and reading the Scriptures to our children and community.

This is why we have Bible class and Sunday School, that we might read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest God’s Word; and having freely received his promises, declare those to others.

This is why Lutherans sing the hymns we sing, why the order the service is the way it is, why the whole service from beginning to end is the voice of Jesus calling out to us with his promise, peace, and pardon for sin for all who hear.

This is our vocation, our calling. Cast the nets of Jesus’ word, and water, his body and blood out into our community, to our neighbors, co-workers, carpool buddies, friends, even our enemies. Jesus has promised his Word will go out draw people to himself. Do not fear. The ark of Christ’s Church won’t sink. Jesus’ presence fills his Church. Jesus feeds you, His people. Jesus sustains you, provides abundant mercy for you. Jesus does everything for you.

That’s his vocation for you.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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