Summary: What do these two stories (Jonah and disciples called to be fisher of men) the have in common? The disciples were called to be fishers of people and Jonah got eaten by a fish. Both of these stories have elements of decision, opposition and courage.
A TALE OF TWO FISH STORIES
Text: Jonah 3:1- 5, 10
Mark 1:14 – 20
Jonah 3:1-10 The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, saying, (2) "Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you." (3) So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days' walk across. (4) Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's walk. And he cried out, "Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" (5) And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. (10) When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
Mark 1:14-20 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 (NRSV).
In 1940 A “dejected and cynical church leader” wanted to move away from everything to escape evolving conflict in Europe. He moved to a place that he thought was most suitable. He thought that the location was remote enough to have all the seclusion that he hoped for. Some of his associates got curious about his place of refuge because in 1942 they quit hearing from him. They figured it out when they looked at his address---it was Guadal Canal. (William P. Barker. ed. Tarbell’s Teacher’s Guide. 87th Annual Volume. September 1991 - August 1992. “Fleeing From God.” Elgin, Illinois: David C. Cook Publishing, 1991, p. 277) . History reminds us that Guadal Canal was one of the hottest battle fields in the Pacific in WWII. What is the point of this story? The point is that we cannot run away from all of our problems or our calling to be God’s people by relocating.
How many times have you ignored a phone call because you saw who was calling on the caller ID? It is even possible to try to avoid when God calls isn’t it? Jonah did. Like Jonah and the disciples, God dispatches us to share the Gospel.
How is Jonah’s story relevant to today’s Gospel Text in Mark 1:14 – 20? By the time Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James and John to become disciples who would be “fishers of men”, John the Baptizer had already been arrested (Mar1:14). When they answered God’s call on their lives, they became enemies of the “world’s state”! People did not usually challenge evil and the world’s daily practice of business-as-usual.
What do these two stories have in common? The disciples were called to be fishers of people and Jonah got eaten by a fish. Both of these stories have elements of decision, opposition and courage.
How do you make decisions at the cross- roads?
1) Cross-roads: For the world that means where two roads intersect. For those who answer God’s call on their lives, it means something different! For those who answer God’s call on their lives it begs the question, “How well do we pick up our crosses and follow in the footsteps of Jesus?” How well will we handle the opposition we will encounter?
2) Comfort zones: Do we walk on by on the other side and stay in our comfort zones or do we take risks? One author says it best when he says, “Modern hearers of the Word often hear so much truth with so little change in our lives.” (Christ Tiegreen. Walk With God. Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers Inc., 2004, p. 184). Jesus called His disciples then as now to leave their comfort zones! What are the changes that you need to make to literally leave your comfort zone?
Can growth happen in God’s kingdom if we do not leave our comfort zones?
1) Diligent discipleship: Andrew, Peter James and John responded favorably to their call. Unlike the disciples, Jonah ran the other way!
2) Relocation: Many times in recent years, there used to be a commercial about leaving the United States to move to a “comfort zone” country called Belize. According to wikipedia, the population in Belize is 383,071. Compare that to Richland county’s population of 415,759. Remember the opening story? How well did relocation work for Jonah? How well will it work for us if we refuse to be God’s messengers of the Gospel?