The Third Sunday after Epiphany; Year B (1/25/2015)

Lessons:
Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Psalm 62:5-12
1st Corinthians 7:29-31
St. Mark 1:14-20

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God, by grace alone you call us and accept us into your service. Strengthen us by your Spirit, and make us worthy of your call, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea-for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

St. Mark 1:14-20 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

A New Kind of Fishing

Imagine what a day it is for them. It starts out as every other day started out. Early in the morning, long before sunrise, and long before many of their friends and neighbors wake, Peter, Andrew, James, John, Zebedee and the others crawl out of bed and make their way down to the boats. When they get there, they make the nets ready and push off from shore. It is a long, cold morning of throwing nets, hauling in fish, sorting good fish from everything else that was gathered in, and setting them aside to prepare them for market. After the fish are brought to shore, cleaned, and sold, then it is back to the boats for another run at it (if there is time) or preparing the equipment for the next day’s work. It is hard, demanding work: exciting the first few times, but hardly a novel or exciting experience for men who have been at it as long as these have.

On the day our Gospel lesson recalls, however, things happen a bit differently. Andrew and Peter are still working the nets, trying to bring in one more load of fish. James and John, along with their father and the hired help, are sitting in their boat and mending the nets. All of a sudden the Rabbi from Nazareth appears, and calls them to give up their lives of fishing to follow him. He claims that he will transform them in a way that it will make it possible for them to fish, now, for people.

The Gospel lesson doesn’t tell us exactly how Jesus communicates this to them, but it isn’t hard to imagine them looking at each other with puzzled expressions and wondering what to do: “What would happen if we left father and the servants here by themselves: would they be able to get along without us? Where will this guy take us: will we be in danger? How will we support ourselves? Will others provide for us, or will we find work when we get wherever we go?” As they weigh the pros and the cons, we might imagine them asking: “What if we really take this stuff seriously?”

The marvel of the story, of course, is that they do. And the story is not so much about them taking it seriously, as it is about God entering into their lives through the presence of Jesus, and making it possible for them to do so. We don’t know how Jesus convinces them to leave family, friends, work — actually their whole lives — and follow him. But we do know that because of their experience with him, they are able to. In meeting Jesus, God has entered their lives in a way that is so powerful, that they can do no other than take Jesus’ claim on their lives seriously. So take him seriously they do: they leave their father, they leave their work, they leave their families, they leave their homes, and they follow him.

Life is never again the same.

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What must those five fishermen have thought when Jesus first invited them to leave everything and follow him?
  2. What do they have to leave in following him?
  3. What do they have to gain in following him?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. How does Jesus call to me today, inviting me to discipleship?
  2. What excuses have I offered in the past, when the call to ministry seemed too hard?
  3. How would my life change if I took Jesus’ call more seriously?