Rev. Todd Peperkorn, STM
Messiah Lutheran Church
Trinity 5 (July 4, 2010, revised from 2007)
TITLE: “Foolish Love”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel lesson just read.
Foolishness. In Greek the word is moron. St. Paul tells us that … the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Corinthians 1:25 ESV). When we think of God, we don’t generally attribute words like foolish, moronic or weak to Him. That is not how we want to picture God. How can God take care of me and my problems if He is weak? How can I trust God when He acts in such weird and unfathomable ways? How can God really be God when such bad things happen to me and to others?
This is a part of what the disciples were thinking when Jesus sent them out to the deep to fish. You don’t fish in the deep, certainly not with nets. Everyone knows that, even a carpenter from Nazareth. But they’ve started on this little trip with Jesus, and so they can’t really back out now. Peter, of course, being a good fisherman, gives himself an out when they fail:
““Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” (Luke 5:5 ESV)
This way if they come back, Peter can say I TOLD YOU SO to Jesus, and no one will think less of him as a fisherman along the way.
Now at first look, we can see the reasonableness of what Peter has done. After all, one must keep up appearances. No one wants to look foolish in front of their friends, far less strangers gathered on the shore. So Peter has everything covered. If things work out and they have a catch, then he looks trusting and pious. But if they fail, Peter can be the wise one who will show the carpenter what is what. It is reasonable, isn’t it?
It is reasonable, but it is not faith. Yet this is precisely how we treat the wisdom of God ourselves. We trust that God will take care of us, but try to keep our expectations realistic. I mean, God will take care of us, but its not like He’s going to intervene in our lives. How can God want you to suffer? Surely that cannot be the wisdom of God. How can God work through such rituals as Baptism or the Lord’s Supper? Or preaching? What good do these things do for your life in the midst of real problems?
That, dear friends, is the mystery of faith right there. When you are confronted with the trials and hurts of this life, the persecution which comes for confessing the faith, or the attacks of the devil upon your body and soul, how do you respond? Do you look to these foolish things of faith like Baptism, the Sacrament, Absolution and preaching? Or do you look inside yourself? If you look inside yourself, you will find no answers, only darkness.
We all have the Elijah complex at times. We can all convince ourselves that we have been faithful, and that no one understands what we are going through, or even that we are the only one left. Both Elijah and Peter suffer from the same problem, as do we all. We can’t trust that God will work in His own time and in His own way. Not by ourselves. It’s impossible.
God knows your fears and doubts. He knows the unbelief that lurks in your heart, the anguish you feel at not knowing what to do, where to go, or even how to believe and trust in Him. He knows. He knows and He acts. He casts out the net of His preaching into the deep. He seeks you out by His Word and Spirit, and creates hope where there is none.
This work that He does of bringing us into the boat of His Church happens over and over again. Jesus told the disciples they would become fishers of men, and so it is. For two millennia the Church has cast her net out, a message of hope amidst sorrow and faith amidst unbelief. It is foolish. Why trust in a God who died on a cross to forgive your sins? At the end of the day, you can’t explain it any better than Brody can. But this great foolishness is your life and your hope.
Today you face trials and hardships, like Elijah did, like Peter and the other disciples. You are sinful like Peter, not worthy to be in the Lord’s presence. But He comes to you nonetheless, forgiving your sins and lifting you up when there is no hope. Our Lord has kept his seven thousand, as He promised to Elijah. His foolishness is wiser than men, as St. Paul rightly said. He can make miracles happen, as He did on the see of Tiberias that day so many years ago.
The miracle, of course, might not be what you expect. It may not be healing like you want, or conflict resolved, or sorrows erased. But what He gives you, Himself, is greater than all of those. There is healing and solution and and ease for your sorrows, in Christ Jesus Himself. When you have Christ, the trials of this day take on a different color. Last week St. Paul told us that the sufferings of this present life are not to be compared to the glory which will come (Romans 8). That’s what I mean. In Christ, your hopes are fulfilled, far greater than you can even imagine. God is greater than we can even fathom. He is so great and wonderful that He can speak through the still, small voice of His Word.
Trust that Word, given to Brody today, and given to you in His Word and meal. The net is full. You are caught in the Word of Christ, and it is a wonderful place to be. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
And now the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith unto life everlasting. Amen.