Changed by the Resurrection

Sermon 1802 John 21.1-14 May 1, 2022

Let’s play a little game today. Yes, I know that isn’t the way I usually start out a sermon, but, I feel like playing a little game. I’ll start the sentence and you end it. Don’t be afraid. Say it out loud.

When it rains…

What goes around...

It’s just one thing…

Meet the new boss...

You see, that’s just the problem with you guys, you human beings. You always look on the dark side of things. Same old, same old. Just another day in Paradise.

OK, I’ll give you one more chance.

The more things change…

Oh, my. Do we need this sermon today! You see, the more things change, the more things change. You, me, everything, is

Changed by the Resurrection

1. A different world (1-5)

2. A different heart (6-14).

“Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. ‘I’m going out to fish,’ Simon Peter told them, and they said, ‘We’ll go with you.’ So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered (1-5).”

There are two miraculous catches of fish recorded in the Gospels. Two separate miracles. One occurred at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. The other occurred in his final days on earth, after he had risen from the dead.

In both cases Peter has been has been fishing all night, catching nothing. In the first miracle Jesus asked to use Peter’s boat to teach the crowds. Peter pulled out a ways so everyone could see. After the teaching was done, Jesus told Peter, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch (Luke 5.4).” Peter objected—they had caught nothing that night, and nighttime was the time to catch fish!

The second time Peter again has been fishing all night. Jesus had told them to go to Galilee and they would see him there. In the meantime, Peter had to do something to keep busy.

You know how they talk about the lull before the storm? This is the lull before the storm. Something’s coming. Something’s just around the bend. It looks like the same old world with the same old patterns, day and night, fishermen throwing out the nets, letting them settle into the water, pulling them back in a rhythm as endless as the waves. Something’s going to change. It is not the same old same old. The world has changed.

In the first miracle Peter sails out to the deep water and throws in his net. “They caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink (Luke 5.6-7).” They were at risk of tearing their expensive nets and sinking not one, but two of their boats. This time Jesus, unrecognized by them, tells them, “‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish (6).” They towed the net full of fish to the shore, about as much a recipe for disaster as trying to carry an open crockpot full of soup in the trunk of your car to the church potluck. But none of the fish escape. “It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn (11).”

In the first miracle, the disciples leave their boats and follow Jesus. In the second miracle Jesus has breakfast prepared for them and asks them to bring some of the fish they had caught to share. They weren’t going anywhere. It was a different world. What had changed? It was the same water, the same fish, the same people. But Jesus had risen from the dead. The world was changed by the resurrection.

I can see how people think there is nothing but the circle of life. You are born, you grow, you mature, you age, you die. Even Disney makes it sound nice and perky—a real Broadway musical show stopper! The circle! The circle of life! You got your shot in the sun. Move on and make room for the next guy. That only works for everybody who is not dying. It is terrible for the person who is on the gurney going to the morgue. There’s a problem with same old, same old. It rules out God. It ignores his purpose for this world.

God is in control. Jesus proves it—twice!—with the miraculous catch of fish. But compared to what happened on Easter Sunday, well, those full nets are just a parlor card trick for Jesus. He conquered death! He paid for sin! He defeated our fiercest foe, the devil! Everything that happens in this earth, and I mean everything, he permits it and bends it and turns it to work out for his will, for the good of those who love him. That’s you and me. By nature we don’t want to see that. We don’t want to recognize God is in control. If God is in control, our dirty little deeds, our dirty little words, our dirty little thoughts are not hidden. They are not secret. They are covered up about as well as Adam and Eve hiding behind a bush in the Garden of Eden.

Repent. Recognize this world has changed. Our Jesus has stepped in and displayed his power, his amazing power over everything. Death is not the end. Frustration is not the unavoidable conclusion. We will win and every day we are winning. My sun, your moon, our planet, our moments and days and years are in our Lord’s hand. He is working his will in our lives. He will continue to extend his hand of blessing over his whole creation. Recognize it! Benefit from it!

The more things change, the more things change. Changed by the resurrection, we have a different heart.

I think what is most striking when you compare the first and second miraculous catch of fish is Peter’s reaction. What was Peter’s reaction in the first miracle? “He fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man (Luke 5.8)!’” Peter wanted Jesus to leave him alone. Go somewhere else. Let me putter around with my insignificant life in my insignificant town. It is quiet. It is comfortable. I’m used to it.

This is what happened at the second miraculous catch of fish. “Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, ‘It is the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water (7).” Peter could not wait to see Jesus. He jumps overboard and swims to shore!

There is also a different ending to the miracles. Peter single-handedly drags the net full of big fish up out of the water. He is pumped up.

Peter had a different heart. He had been changed by the resurrection.

Jesus’ resurrection has changed our hearts. Instead of looking for a white towel to throw it in, we dig down deep and don’t back down an inch to the attacks of the devil. Instead of the daily routine that wears us down, we’re the marathon runner who has found his stride and broken through the wall. There’s no stopping us.

Can I give you but one example? A lot of people were writing the obituary for the organized church two years ago. COVID had caused people to look upon churches as a cesspool of germs, an incubator of infection. Well, it wasn’t any worse than a lot of other gathering places and certainly not as bad as an indoor sporting event or bar. But because paychecks weren’t flowing as freely out of churches, low ceiling restaurants and stale bars opened, with the virus evidently agreeing not to infect anyone when they were eating or drinking, or even holding a beer can in their hand. Quite the intelligent virus, that one—polite! Have never seen one like it. But churches! Get a life insurance policy, polish up your will. If you hear a sermon, if you sing a hymn, you are going to die! In order not to give offense to the mockers, to show our loving obedience to our Savior, we kept the Fourth Commandment and followed governmental guidelines, even closing up from March 17th to May 31st of 2020. And then we came back to church. We restarted worship. We restarted Sunday School. We celebrated the Lord’s Supper. We even restarted Monday night worship. All with discretion and circumspection. As we have a building safe according to building codes so we wanted a building safe according to current health standards. And now even Fauci says the acute pandemic portion of COVID is over. Deaths and hospitalizations are remote possibilities.

And here we are. As I near retirement we are not talking about liquidating the church and divvying up the proceeds. We are preparing for Vacation Bible School this summer, this fall for Confirmation class and Sunday School. We’ve got two young men going back east, one, Anthony Navarro, to finish his synodical training and stand for a call into the teaching ministry come December, and the other, Zach Turley, to go to our Seminary, the one that actually goes out of its way to provide dormitory housing for single men, so he can be a pastor in four short years. Oh, yeah, and our Green Valley Lutheran School is enrolling students for next year. And, and there was something else…of course! We’ve called a new pastor! The news of the demise of the church was very premature. We’re moving forward and we pray that Pastor Luke Tembruell first of all gets back to Corvallis safely from his vacation and secondly, carefully considers the call we have extended to him.

I would like to say, “We are back, baby!” But as long as we still have members watching online instead of coming to in-person church, we are not whole. We are not benefitting each other as we could. So come. Those of us who are here, keep coming. If it was twice a month before COVID, make it three times. If it was once a month, make it twice. If we are still watching the service at home, we are depriving ourselves of the Lord’s Supper. We are missing the energy, the thrill of being in a group of brothers and sisters in the faith. Make the time, take the time, come. If not now, when? If not here, where?

Changed by the Resurrection

1. A different world (1-5)

2. A different heart (6-14).

Ready to play that game again?

Every cloud...

When one door closes…

If you don’t at first succeed…

In Christ, we are more than conquers. How the devil must hate the change!

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