FISHING WITH JESUS - PART 1
The Time is Now
Sunday, August 18, 2019
Mark 1:14-20, Matthew 4:18-22, Matthew 28:19-20
“Come, follow me,” he said, “and I’ll show you how to fish for people.”
Whose job is it to make disciples? The prophets? The preachers? The Sunday School Teachers?
We are quick to read between the lines in Mark 1 and Matthew 4 as Simon, Andrew, James and John leave their nets and follow Jesus like a group of children who have nothing better to do than join in a playground game of follow-the-leader. We struggle to find ways to excuse ourselves from such unreasonable demands. We have jobs and mortgages and kids and aging parents and pets. We have responsibilities that in our minds, are far more crucial than the lowly fishing business these early disciples walked out on. What exactly does it look like to “Come and follow Jesus,” in our day? The story is so brief it hardly does justice to the level of sacrifice these “ordinary fishermen” truly made. If we’re truly honest, most of us tend to think it was a much easier decision for them than for us.
There are much larger implications, however, when we consider the timing of this call. “After John was arrested…” (Mark 1:14, Matthew 4:12).
John was the prophet of the day. John was the mouthpiece of God. John was the first person in nearly 400 years to hold such a crucial religious position. No one alive at the time had ever heard the voice of God so directly and neither had their parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents. “Prepare the way of the Lord,” he declared, and then he is arrested.
In steps Jesus, picking up right where John leaves off, except he is not just another prophet. He is something much more. He is the very presence of God in the flesh. And what’s more, God is not hanging out in the synagogues or even with the prophet’s followers in the wilderness. He is hanging out in the marketplace around the Sea of Galilee. He is eating and drinking and laughing with the tax collectors, the occupying Roman soldiers, the sick and the lame, the women and the children, and yes, even the lowly hard working fishermen.
“I’ll show you how to fish for people,” he says (Mark 1:17).
The nature of following Jesus and “fishing for people” looks different for everyone. Some may leave everything behind and others are needed to proclaim the Good News right where they are. Regardless of what shape our call takes or where Jesus leads, the point is that Jesus is leading “us”. He’s not training people for the office of “prophet” to replace John. He’s not offering a continuing education course or a doctoral program for Pharisees and Sadducee's so they they can update their methods and theology to fit the changing times. He is not saying everyone has to quit their jobs and go into full-time ministry, though that may be true for some.
Jesus calls you and me, ordinary people, to “fish for people,” to take up the mantle of the prophet and proclaim the Word of God not only in the wilderness, but in the marketplace, at our jobs, in our schools, at the restaurant, in the public square, with our friends and neighbors, in our homes and our families, and yes, even in our churches.
The more we try to plan out exactly how we will follow Jesus, the more we will find Jesus changing our plans. We are not Jesus’ GPS to make sure everything he calls us to do just happens to be on our route. If we stop to think about it too much, we will likely be overcome with anticipation and anxiety about the unknown. We might remember that John was just arrested and wonder if the same might happen to us. Our fear may get the better of us. We will surely come up with a million other things we have to do “first.”
Where our culture says, “trust yourself, trust your instincts, your intelligence, your abilities, your wealth, your plans, etc.” Jesus simply says, “Trust me. Step out of the boat. Drop your nets. Let’s go.”
The time is now!