The One Who: Is Calling

The One Who  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  19:39
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Let us pray…Gracious and loving God, as we come before you today, we pray for hearts focused on you, for ears trained to your still speaking voice, and eyes to see clearly the path you have laid before us, Amen.

The Invitation

I know in the last year this does not or has not happened much but think back to a time in the recent past that you might have received an invitation. What did it look like? What was the occasion? Was there a request to respond by a certain date and time in order to “reserve” your spot? Likely, the invitation was to a special event of some sort, like a birthday or wedding. Likely, the invitation anticipated that you would respond and respond in the affirmative, right? I mean, when we send invitations, we anticipate and maybe even hope that everyone we invite will attend.
The unfortunate case is that not everyone who receives an invitation will actually attend. The even more unfortunate case is that not even everyone who says they will attend even shows up. In today’s age and time, this is becoming less and less likely. It is just our human nature to pick and choose what is most important in a particular time. And when we pick and choose what we will make a priority, oftentimes it is going to lead to someone getting hurt, not that we intended to do it but it is going to hurt.
Here’s the thing, we are all invited to follow Christ, much like the disciples in today’s story from the Gospel of Mark. The difference that I want us to focus upon today is the response of those disciples as compared to our typical responses to those who invite us to something special in our lives. In reality, Jesus’ invitation to those disciples and us today is much like an invitation to a special event, we need to choose what is most important for our lives...

The Story of Simon, Andrew, James and John...

So today’s Gospel lesson invites us into the lives of four very important men…the lives of ordinary fishermen who become extraordinary just because they chose to heed a special invitation...
Simon and Andrew are brothers. They live around the Sea of Galilee and every day they go about their daily lives of jumping into a fishing boat, sailing out into the deep waters of the lake, cast nets into the water, and hope that when they draw those nets back up into their boats that they are filled with fish. It’s a living and one that probably brings them enough to live on and help feed the village in which they live. They had likely inherited the family business and carried it on. So, when Jesus calls out to them, invites them to be in relationship and follow him, they are giving up a considerable amount. Now, we know for certain that Simon was married and probably had a family to support. Can you imagine leaving your family and giving up what you have known, to follow a man you might have just met only a few days or weeks before?
The second set of brothers, James and John, too have very common ordinary lives. They are also fishermen and do much the same things that Simon and Andrew do each day. The main difference is that we know that James and John’s father is still alive and has a large enough fishing business to hire additional men to help fish. So, this means that when their father dies, James and John will too inherit a family business. For them, it might even be a larger business than Simon and Andrew. So, as Jesus journeys along the shores of the Sea of Galilee and invites James and John to join him, they too are leaving a prosperous business but they are also walking away from their future prosperity as well.
Now, the thing we do not know from these stories is whether Simon, Andrew, James, or John had any reservations about following Jesus, we just know that they answered his invitation in the affirmative, leaving everything they knew behind to become fishers of people.

What Does it Mean to be Invited?

As we delve into this story, I want you to all bear in mind that these men have RSVP’d to Jesus’ invitation, yes. So, let’s take a moment to look at how Jesus accomplishes these invitations...
Mark 1:17 NIV
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
This is not an invitation that many, if any, of us will likely hear in our lives but that does not mean that Jesus has not ever invited us in a similar way. Here’s the thing about this invitation…Jesus uses the analogy of fishing for people because that is what these four men are most familiar with. It is not so much about fishing for people as it is about the words, “Come, follow me.”
The reason I introduced these men before jumping into the passage is because we all need to bear in mind that these four men gave up a lot at the sound of three very plain and simple words. Two of them gave up a business that had been left to them, which in that society was a big deal. The other two gave up the security of a thriving business and walked away from their father. In a patristic society, that was unheard of, let alone ever really done. With three words, these four men gave up their lives and what they knew, their family, friends, and neighbors to become the first of millions of people who continue to be invited into relationship with Christ.
With that established, this story is really a continuation of what we have been studying since the birth story on Christmas Eve. We have been spending a lot of time considering what it means to be invited into relationship with God through the lives of those around Christ and Christ himself. This week’s story is really the culmination of those invitations and an invitation to us as well.

How Do We Relate to Fishermen?

It is interesting how Mark tells this story and where we start on our journey this morning…here Mark’s words again...
Mark 1:14–15 CEB
After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee announcing God’s good news, saying, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!”
Mark finds it really important to show that despite all that he has been through, Jesus is traveling around the area and telling people to repent and believe. If you really think about it, this is an invitation to everyone to follow him. If you were there at that time, wouldn’t you be curious what this strange man was talking about, at least just enough to come a little closer to hear what he is talking about? I think I might have ventured a little closer to see what he was talking about…just because I am a curious person.
As Jesus journeys, we need to remember that the people that were there may not have been part of the baptism that John was performing at the Jordan because the place where he was doing this was about 100 miles from where Jesus calls Simon, Andrew, James, and John. Since none of the Gospels record that the people around the Sea of Galilee were being baptized, I think it is safe to say that while they may have heard about Jesus and John, they probably had not heard them physically speak before. Which makes this even more important for us today...
Think about it for a moment…Jesus is calling everyone he meets to journey with him and come before God to hear the good news that he had arrived and was going to do something great in this world. Like I have said over the last few weeks, this is a two part invitation. First, it is the invitation to follow but the second is an invitation to turn back toward God through following Christ. While we are not there at the time this is all happening, the life, death and resurrection of Christ carries this same call for us each day.
Something else to consider…it is not a call to be perfect. That’s for certain, especially if you read anything about the lives of these four men as each of them were far from perfect. So we do not have to be perfect and thank goodness we do not have to be. But the invitation still exists today to be followers of Christ. Each day that we are given is a new day to re-dedicate ourselves to this life of following Christ and become fishers of people. It is an invitation that we can choose to ignore if we want. But, it is there.

The Public Invitation

The one thing that we do not hear is how many chose to actually follow. We know that Jesus is calling out as he teaches and travels, we know that he started in Nazareth and traveled to the Sea of Galilee, but we do not know what size crowd of people have actually begun to form at this point. What we do know is how Simon and Andrew responded to the “Come, follow me”...
Mark 1:18 NLT
And they left their nets at once and followed him.
Simon and Andrew dropped whatever they were doing and followed. James and John did the same...
Mark 1:20 NLT
He called them at once, and they also followed him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men.
These are examples of what it means to truly follow. These men were given an opportunity to be something more. They were challenged to leave everything they knew, their homes and future security. Yes, it was a challenge. Imagine doing that in your own life. Would you be able, let alone willing, to just give up everything and follow someone that you might have had a chance meeting with? Now we know from John’s Gospel that they were disciples of John the Baptist, so they would have at least met Jesus. However, they did not necessarily know all about him or what he was about to do. Yet, they still dropped everything to follow. And, since we will not be delving into the stories of the others, just know that all 12 of the disciples did the same thing…let that sink in…all 12 dropped what they knew and followed.
In these men, Jesus was creating a whole new thing in the world. He was inviting ordinary people into relationship with him and with one another. Aside from these 4 men, none of the others were related or had any knowledge of the other disciples. Yet, all 12 of them formed a community because they believed that Jesus was doing something. And, Jesus has not done anything spectacular yet, and still they believed that he would and so they answered the call to follow. And follow they did, even after their friend died on the cross for them.
They truly became fishers of people because without them, none of us would be here now. They accomplished something spectacular themselves. They created a community out of nothing and it grew to be a family of God. We are part of that family of God because we trust and believe the stories that we read. The call of Christ to these men calls across generations and millenium into our lives today. The call can be heard if we open our hearts and ears to hear it. The call is one that we can carry into the future. Can you just imagine what would happen to our family of faith if we became more like these four and answered the call to be fishers ourselves? AMEN.
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