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DIVINE MAJESTY

 

Luke 5:4-11
4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down[a] the nets for a catch." 5Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets." 6When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7So 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.

 8When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" 9For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners.Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." 11So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

Isaiah 6:1-8
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory."

 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

Exodus 3:1-6
1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up."

 4 When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am." 5 "Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." 6 Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

INTRODUCTION

In a sense we may conceive of God's "holiness" as referring to the sum-total of all His sovereign majesty. It embraces all of His infinite attributes such as His omniscience, eternal existence, and reigning in almighty power in Heaven and throughout His created universe. He is present in it all, and yet transcends it all.

God allowed His holiness - this transcendent nature and majesty - to shine in the Person, words and deeds of our Lord Jesus! As St. Paul recorded in Colossians:--> "In HIM dwells all the fullness of God bodily."

GOD SHOWS HIS DIVINE MAJESTY

We remember how Moses had his first encounter with the Holy God at the burning bush: "Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground!" - Isaiah was transported in a vision to the very Throne Room of God. Peter's encounter given in today's appointed Gospel reading came on his "own turf," so to speak, and in relation to his profession as a fisherman...

At first Peter seemed to hesitate (Didn't he?!) in commenting on the disciples' failure at fishing through the previous night. We can identify his frustration with so many of our own futile attempts at different tasks. At second look, though, and against his own reasoning power, Peter had enough "stock" in Jesus to obey the command and hope there was a catch to be had! - Like him, neither ought we as Christ's followers to place our own feeling or judgment above His Word. What He says and teaches us ought to steer our course even if we think success lies in a different direction.

Following Peter's faithful obedience came the overwhelming miracle, - the over-abundant catch of fish that required helpers and another boat that even then could barely haul it in! There was no question that the Divine Majesty and power of God had been made evident.

Peter "put two-and-two together." He realized the stunning fact that, without his seeking it, he had been the recipient of Divine Majesty and, standing close to Jesus, he was in the presence of the Most Holy and Almighty God!

RESULTS OF SUCH ENCOUNTERS

Peter was deeply humbled as a result of the encounter. We might guess he was feeling a twinge of conscience for complaining about all his work to no avail the night before, but his reaction shows it was more than that. In his heart he must have been feeling something like Isaiah when he cried out, "Woe is me, for I am lost!" He was terrified much like the people of Israel when they saw how Moses' face shined from talking face-to-Face with the Holy God! Peter wanted to escape and, like Adam and Eve, hide himself because he was overwhelmed with a full sense of his personal sinfulness. That was the result of Peter's realizing that Jesus possessed the Divine Majesty! He felt the claustrophobic crush of his sin!

Words of God's Law aim for the same result in us. He says, "You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy," but we are not. Jesus taught, "You must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect," and we are not. - God's Name is used in vain. We're more concerned with our own rather than our neighbors' needs and interests. We don't give full honor and obedience to those placed in authority over us as we are commanded. Our hearts are full of self-serving passions and thoughts. -- Remember(?) about the teenaged girl who was once asked what she might answer God if He were to ask why she should be allowed into Heaven, and her voice quivered as she humbly admitted, "I'd probably start crying because I'd feel so unworthy." We have fallen far short of the requirements of God's Law!

There's no hiding from the all-seeing, all-knowing God. We don't want to be found out with all the sin we carry. We fear loss of respect. People will go to the greatest lengths to cover-up those deepest and most secret sins! Hearts cringe at imagining the shame and humiliation that would be theirs if their masks were ripped off and they became exposed. -- But GOD KNOWS! No hole is deep enough or star distant enough to hide away.

And, just as Peter contritely realized, JESUS knows. He knows all about YOU! - He has seen all the world's hatred, violence, cheating, drugs and perversion, and He sees you and your every weakness. He knows we're helpless by ourselves - that we're small, powerless creatures driven by forces we can't control and sometimes don't even understand. By ourselves we are heirs of death, and left to ourselves we would die and face eternity in hell! -- But the good news is that Jesus looks on us through the loving eyes of Divine Majesty! Our helpless state is the exact thing with which He came to deal by coming to our world as one of us.

GOD'S GRACE AND FURTHER PURPOSE SHOWN

God covered Adam and Eve after their sin. He provided for Isaiah's forgiveness through the touch of the burning coal. None of them was worthy, yet God did forgive.

As Peter fell on his knees begging Jesus to get away, Jesus didn't leave him helpless to wait till a time when he might try to present himself as more worthy. That, of course, could never happen. - Jesus rather answered Peter, "Do not be afraid." It was a word of forgiveness and assurance, extending grace to Peter. It was also a word that could only be said on the condition that Jesus had committed Himself to die, both for Peter and for us.

We see how committed Christ's love was already in Gethsemane's garden, concerning which St. John wrote, "Jesus, knowing all that was to befall Him, came forward and said..'Whom do you seek?'" He knew, but still went to the arresting soldiers! Judas didn't catch Him, Jesus went to meet Judas. -- What unfathomable Divine Majesty to let Himself be taken and treated as a criminal for crimes He didn't do! In effect Jesus was saying, "Father, hold ME accountable for every vile and shameful thing mankind has ever done. Let the punishment be Mine!"

What we could never make right with God, Jesus has! His grace for Peter and us led Him all the way to Calvary's Cross and its humiliating death. - Why should we be surprised, then, that God raised Jesus from the dead? The kind of loving grace He has given to the world has truly earned Him every highest honor in Heaven and on earth! Even emperors, kings and presidents falter and fail, but in Jesus Christ is all Divine Majesty!

That's who Peter encountered at the event of the astonishing catch of fish, so small wonder he was so overwhelmed with his own littleness and weakness! Through that experience and others in Peter's life, though, Jesus molded him into a commendable servant. Christ's word of grace enabled Peter to do more than just stand before his holy and almighty Lord. Jesus added, "From now on you will catch men."

In fact, Christ's power worked a great measure of commitment in Peter's heart already then and there. It was at that point, we're told, that Peter, James and John "forsook all and followed" Jesus - just as Isaiah's encounter led him to respond, "Here am I, send me!"

Today we're called to think with our hearts on the familiar hymn words:

Hark, the voice of Jesus calling, "Who will go and work today?" ...

If you cannot speak like Angels, If you cannot preach like Paul,
You CAN tell the love of Jesus; You CAN say He died for all.
- You CAN lead the little children to the Savior's waiting arms.

With your prayers and with your bounties you can do what God demands.
You can be like faithful Aaron, holding up the Prophet's hands.

Let none hear YOU idly saying, "There is nothing I can do,"
While the multitudes are dying and the Master calls for you.
Take the task He gives you gladly; Let His work your pleasure be.
Answer quickly when He calls you, "Here am I, send me, send ME!"

CONCLUSION

In his famous confession in Psalm 51 King David implored, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. THEN I will teach transgressors Thy ways and sinners will return to Thee!" - This suggests that the prime consideration for Christian service isn't a super education or intellect or individual talent, as important as those things may be. The highest qualification is rather to be made to repentantly recognize our own helplessness and sin, and then to receive God's unmerited forgiveness. This we have through the Holy Spirit keeping us in the faith of Christ's Saviorhood!

You and I, poor, miserable sinners, are wanted by the DIVINE MAJESTY -- in His service on earth and in His glory in Heaven!

 

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