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On Being Useful
Scripture and a reading from Luther's sermons and devotional writings

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

4 And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, 7 they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.”

Luke 5:4–10, RSV

From Luther

That Peter is not alarmed on account of his unworthiness and sins is an abundant comfort and grace. He is not only to have the forgiveness of sins, but is also to know that God intends to accomplish still greater things through him by making him a help and comfort to others. What Christ would say is, That which thou hast accomplished by the draught of fishes is much too little; really, it is nothing at all. Thou art henceforth to become a different kind of fisherman, in a different sea, with a different net and boat. I am going to engage thee in a business which shall be called “catching men.” This means that throughout the entire world, thou art to draw away souls from the power of the devil into the kingdom of God. Then only wilt thou become the sort of man that can help others, even as thou thyself hast been helped.

From this gospel let us rightly comprehend and grasp Christ and the power of his comfort, that we may comfort both ourselves and others, and may instruct and remind the consciences which are in distress and fear that may by no means run or flee away from Christ, but may much rather flee to him and wait for his comfort. Thus to fear and run away is nothing else than to drive your own salvation and happiness away from you. Christ has not come to make you afraid, but to remove your sins and distress from you. Nor does he draw nigh and follow after you to drive you away, but that he may kindly allure you to himself. “Fear not” speaks to your heart, and to the hearts of all troubled consciences, and pronounces absolution from all sins and removes all fear. He will grant you a still richer grace by making you such a holy, blessed and useful man in his kingdom that you can be of comfort to others and can bring those to him who like yourself are now full of fear and in need of comfort and grace. Here you see how a man is delivered from spiritual poverty and distress through Christ’s Word. He obtains forgiveness of sins and peace of conscience with increase of spiritual gifts through the grace of Christ.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 287–88.

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