Please note this is part of the series “The Power of the Cross” which can be obtained free from CTA.
(The outline is mine.)
Luke 5:1 – 11
The Wow and Woe of Worship
Imagine the sights and sounds of what is happening in this story. The sounds of the water as it splashes on a beach. The smell of old boats and nets being washed. Watch the exhausted fishermen, backs bent with the disappointment of a fish-less night.
Into all of this steps Jesus and interrupts a perfectly good pity party.
A. Personal disappointment and perceived failure are God’s interruptions.
1. Fishing then was strenuous...
a. It involved boats, casting heavy wet nets, serious competition with others.
b. It involved “toiled all night” [v 5] and high maintenance “washing their nets.” [v 2]
c. This was commercial fishing... so if no fish, no pay.... no food.
2. Personal disappointment and perceived failure are times when God has our attention.
a. Jesus just gets in the boat... doesn’t ask permission.
b. Personal reflection on my disappointment over “alter calls” here.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,  for our "God is a consuming fire.” [Hebrews 12:28 – 29]
B. When God interrupts our lives, God is requiring a response.
1. [v 3c] “And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.”
a. Peter hears what Jesus is saying.
b. Some bond of trust must have developed in listening to Jesus because he is willing to “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” [v 4]
2. Peter’s response: we are tired, we came back empty, BUT...
a. KJV: “Nevertheless.” Peter is willing to do this because Jesus told him to do it.
b. This is a huge act of faith.
3. But Jesus does something special that gets Peter’s attention.
a. Jesus almost breaks the nets and sinks the boat. [vv 6 – 7]
b. This is the “moment of wow” were Peter is amazed, immediately followed by a “moment of woe” when Peter confesses his sinfulness.
“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” [v 8b ESV]
C. This seems to be the pattern when God shows up.
1. Isaiah 6:5 “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.” [NIV]
a. The word “woe” is a “passionate cry of grief or despair” [Brown-Driver-Briggs]
b. It is the word use to signify being under God’s curse.
2. Here is a holy God, showing up in His glory... verses an unholy human.
a. Doesn’t matter who you are: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” [Romans 2:23 NIV]
b. That is the “moment of woe.” That point were we, looking at the cross, realize what our sins cost Jesus.
Imagine if you were swamped with the memory and realization of every sin you have committed. Your reaction would be the same as Isaiah’s and Peter’s: overwhelming guilt and enormous fear.
a. Because you have been in contact with a holy God.
b. BOTH Peter and Isaiah met God in the everyday ordinary grind of life. FACT: God is found in all things as all times.
c. And that requires a response.
D. The purity of God’s holiness and the dirt of our sinfulness and up to “grace.”
1. Jesus got Peter’s attention with a “wow.” Peter made the leap to “woe.” But Jesus was not finished there.
a. “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” [v 10b ESV]
b. Wow to woe to wow.
2. What is the effect of what is happening?
a. When we humble ourselves and confess our sin... we are cleansed.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [1 John 1:9 ESV]
b. We are then commissioned by God.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” [Acts 1:8 ESV]
c. Then we are irreversibly changed.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” [Romans 12:1 – 2]
3. Maybe we do not respond to God because:
a. We don’t want anyone to know we are in need of forgiveness. (“Duh”)
b. We are afraid to say yes to anything/everything God asks of us. (Such as being His witnesses.)
c. We are not willing to be transformed... we are comfortable with the status quo...
1. Come to the alter and experience the woe of your condition.
2. Commit yourself as a “living sacrifice” and experience the wow of God’s wonderful grace.
3. Compelled by a joy that overshadows all sorrows and fear, live out God’s wonderful grace for all to see!