Archive for June 28, 2010
This weekend in worship and ABC we talked about the stain of inadequacy. We’ve all grappled with inadequacy, of course. A project we’ve been working on isn’t up to snuff according to the boss. And we feel inadequate. The money we make isn’t enough to keep up with our next-door neighbors. And we feel inadequate.
I always enjoy watching the opening outtakes on the hit FOX TV show, “American Idol.” Some of the auditions are atrocious. What is really fascinating to me, however, is that some of these contestants, who couldn’t carry a tune if their lives depended on it, believe that they are truly good singers. When they find out that they are not, they are crushed. And they feel inadequate.
I suspect that Peter must have felt much like an “American Idol” contestant feels after Simon Cowell announces, “That was atrocious.” As Luke 5 opens, we find Peter, a professional fisherman, casting his nets into the Sea of Galilee. And Peter was no poor fisherman. To the contrary, he was one of the best. But even one of the best gets skunked from time to time. And this was the case with Peter. He had been fishing all night and had not caught a thing. But not to worry, for a carpenter from Nazareth named Jesus is on the case. “Put out into the deep water, and let down the nets for a catch,” Jesus says (verse 4). A carpenter giving advice to a seasoned fisherman on fishing? That’s rich. But Peter trusts and obeys the Lord. And the results are nothing short of miraculous: “When [Peter and his companions] had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break“ (verse 6). Apparently, this carpenter knows a thing or two about fishing. And all of a sudden, Peter is struck with an acute bout of inadequacy. He says to Jesus, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man” (verse 8)! Jesus, in turn, responds to Peter’s declaration with a promise of hope in the midst of inadequacy: “Don’t be afraid” (verse 10).
Sadly, many people have twisted this precious promise of Jesus. In the sixteenth century, a young monk named Martin Luther twisted this promise by refusing to believe it. He refused to hearken unto God’s call to “be not afraid.” Instead, in his younger years, he saw God only as a cruel taskmaster who would surely damn all mankind for their inadequacies. Blessedly, he later came to understand the wonderful compassion of our God, expressed in Jesus Christ. In the twenty-first century, many people twist this promise by turning God into a wrathless deity who overlooks, rather than forgives, sins. The promise, “Do not be afraid,” is conceived as an admission that God does not really care about, much less gets angry over, sin. Indeed, a popular preacher recently toured the country with the message, “The gods aren’t angry.” His point was this: God is not angry with you or at your sin. But this is not true. God is angry. And He’s angry at your sin. As the apostle Paul writes, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men” (Romans 1:18). God has wrath at sin. Jesus says, “Do not fear,” not because God doesn’t get angry with sin and sinners, but because His wrath is taken by Jesus Christ in our place for our sins on the cross. It is by Jesus’ work on the cross that our sins are forgiven.
When Jesus tells Peter, “Do not be afraid,” it isn’t because Peter is really a good guy. No, Peter’s statement, “I am a sinful man,” is perfectly true. He is inadequate. But through Christ’s atoning work, Peter’s sin is taken away and he has nothing to fear. The answer to inadequacy is not to pretend you’re adequate. You’re not. The answer to inadequacy is to trust in Jesus because He is more than adequate. He is perfect. And His perfection covers all of our inadequate sins. Find your adequacy in Christ.
Want to learn more on this passage? Go to
and check out audio and video from Pastor Tucker’s
message or Pastor Zach’s ABC!