“Duck, Duck, Goose” Luke 5:1-11

Jesus looked at Peter and said, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” (Luke 5:10)

Fifth Sunday after The Epiphany  February 5-6, 2022

“Duck, Duck, Goose”  Luke 5:1-11

Rev. John R. Larson  Ascension Lutheran Church  Littleton, Colorado

             When’s the last time you played “Duck, Duck, Goose”?  A long time ago, huh?  Do you remember how it goes?  Everybody sits in a circle, and they are all considered the “ducks.”  One person is chosen to be the goose and walks, or skips, or runs around the circle saying to each head they touch, “Duck”, “Duck”, “Duck”, until they finally holler “Goose”.  And the one who is the “goose”, and the one who was called the “goose” run, with the one who touched the head wanting to get into the vacated spot of the one they touched before getting touched.  If you get touched you remain the “goose”, if you don’t, the one who got touched gets the honor.

            If you have ever played it, you don’t want to be the “duck” all the time.  You want to be picked.  You want to run and try to catch the one who picked you.  And if you don’t catch them, you get a chance to pick someone that you can outrun and get in their spot.  I wonder if they have “Duck, Duck, Goose” for seniors?  You know, that might not be safe!!  (And it would look pretty funny!!)

            Luke 5, the calling of Simon Peter to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, is sort of like “Duck, Duke, Goose”.  Jesus is standing by the Sea of Galilee and teaching quite a few people the words from God.  And then He hops into Simon Peter’s boat and begin to teach from there – maybe more people could hear Him from the boat.  Then Jesus performs the great miracle of the catching of a great number of fish.  I think there were four fisherman, Peter and his brother Andrew, James and his brother, John, who worked together and hadn’t caught anything during the night and into the early morning.  It is at that time when Jesus caught Peter, even when Peter didn’t want to get caught.

            Fisherman, good ones, go early, and catch fish.  But that day they hadn’t caught even one.  But Jesus, used this failure, to call Peter to full discipleship.  Jesus had already called Peter once, maybe a year before this.  We read in John 1, “Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John {The Baptist} had said and who followed Jesus.  The first thing that Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah, (that is, the Christ).  And he brought him to Jesus.”  (John 1:40-42a)

            But Peter must have gone back to fishing.  He must not have been a full-time disciple of Jesus.  He may have been half-hearted, not fully committed.  But that changed.  Jesus chose Peter.  “Duck, Duck, Goose!!”  “Simon, put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”  (Luke 5:4)  You know what happened.  So many fish were caught that the nets began to break.  Another boat was needed to get the catch.  There were even so many fish that the boats began to sink.  (See Luke 5:6-7)

               Peter’s reaction?  “Hooray for Jesus?”  “We’re rich?”  “We hit the jackpot?”  No, “Go away from me, Lord, I am a sinful man.”  (Luke 5:8)  He didn’t want to be tapped as the “Goose”.  He would rather run away.  This was not a wonderful moment, but a frightening one.  What would Jesus be asking of him?  How much of his life did Jesus want?  Peter saw his sin and he compared this with the brilliance of Jesus and he knew the two couldn’t mix.  “Away from me, Lord.”  Martin Luther had a great quote here, “The more you feel that you are a sinner, and the more you want to run away from God, just so much more you should press forward to him.”

            But Jesus wasn’t going to go away.  He was persistent and pesky.  It is like those words in Revelation, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”  (Revelation 3:20)  Jesus answered Peter’s request with an emphatic no!  Jesus was not going away.

            Isn’t that good news?  For Peter.  For us.  If you are evading God because you know that you are quite a sinner, don’t shut Him out.  If you are running from Him because He may ask too much of your life, don’t keep on running.  If you have had every excuse in the world not to believe in Jesus, to trust Him and then to follow Him, know that Jesus is pesky and doesn’t want you to miss out on the fullness of life that He wants you to enjoy.

            Jesus looked at Peter and said, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.”  (Luke 5:10)  What if Jesus had turned His back on Peter?  What if He had agreed with Peter’s request to have nothing to do with him?  What if when Peter said to Him, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man”, Jesus would have agreed with him?  But Jesus didn’t turn Peter away and He won’t turn you, or me, away either.

            Look at how Peter’s life was so richly blessed by the mercy of Jesus.  When Peter disowned Jesus three times, three times Jesus commissioned him to feed His sheep and tend His lambs.  Jesus told him that he was Peter, a rock.  In the early church he was given a charge to preach and teach and to go to the entire world.  He was allowed to write two books that we have in our New Testament which we still read and from which we receive hope.  All of that would have been gone if Peter would have walked away from Jesus.

            And if you walk away from Jesus, you will only see your sin and never His grace and forgiveness.  If you are afraid that He will meddle too much in your life, consider what you lose if He is not in your life.  When He places His hand on you and says that you are His – that you are secure in the grip of His grace, that you are forgiven and saved, and that you have a holy purpose in life – all these are gifts to you.  Peter, when he heard of Jesus telling them to let down their nets, initially said, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.”  But then he adds, “But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”  (Luke 5:5b)  Everything changes when Jesus says something.  Fullness of life, healing, forgiveness, and eternal life all come because of what Jesus says.  His word changes everything. 

            In the song, “I’m a child of God, Yes I am”, the lyrics say, “In my Father’s house there’s a place for me.  I’m a child of God, yes, I am.  I am chosen, not forsaken.  I am who you say I am.  You are for me, not against me, I am who you say I am.”  Everything changes because of what God says.   

            In that children’s game of “Duck, Duck, Goose”, the fun of the game is getting selected by one of your friend’s, but it is also being able to choose others.  You’ve been chosen to know Jesus.  At Baptism God chose you to be His.  But our purpose of being God’s child doesn’t end in what we receive.  About 2 years ago, Pastor Don Ginkel, shared with me a most remarkable e-mail he had just received from a person that he knew decades ago when he was in parish ministry.  Betty Giertz wrote to Pastor Don, “Chuck [Betty’s husband] and I talked about what a great Pastor you are.  We loved your Bible classes.  I was happy to become a Christian because of your classes…”  What a word from someone!!  What a word that says, “Because of you, I’m a believer in Jesus.”  “Because of you, I am going to enjoy God eternally.”  “Because of you, I don’t live in fear, but in faith.” 

            There is a joy in leading other people to Jesus.  Peter, who wanted to run away, was told, “From now on you will catch people.”   We are witnesses to others of the love and greatness of God.  We want people to live, really live.  We want people to live in heaven, not in hell.  We want them to know Jesus Christ as their Savior.  We want everyone to know Jesus as their Lord, their master, not keeping God at a distance but having Him direct and empower their lives in the most fabulous ways.

            This account of Peter could have gone the wrong way.  But it didn’t.  The wonderful conclusion to all this is, “So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”  (Luke 5:11)  That day ended in the best way. 

            You, and I, chosen by Jesus to have sins forgiven, faith made strong, and already having a place in heaven prepared for us, are truly blessed.  We pray that others that we hold dearly in our hearts will have Jesus as their Savior and Lord as well.  Amen!!                          





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