Summary: April Fool’s Day sermon. Is it foolish or wise to become a follower of Jesus. It’s the wisest decision in the world.
It was a sunny morning on the sea of Galilee. The team of fishermen were about their usual business. Some were throwing their nets out into the lake to try to catch a few more fish before the day got too hot. A couple of others were sitting in their boats carrying out the daily chore of painstakingly going over their nets knot by knot to check there were no holes, and when they found one, mending it with fresh twine. Most of the night’s catch had already been sent off in baskets to the market, and they were enjoying the quiet of the morning.
Life was pretty good for these fishermen. They had a sure source of income. They enjoyed their work and they were good at it. They should have been, I guess, because fishing ran in their blood. Their father was a fisherman, as was his father before him. So they knew their trade and were happy doing it.
But things were about to change. The quiet of their morning was about to be interrupted as a figure appeared in the distance walking along the edge of the lake. He looked somehow familiar, though they couldn’t quite work out why. But as he got closer they realised who he was. He was the preacher who’d recently begun telling people that the kingdom of God was near. He’d caused quite a stir around Galilee. There were plenty of people around there who were sick and tired of the Romans throwing their weight around, so the idea that God might have finally sent the promised one, the one who’d restore the kingdom to Israel, got people pretty excited. And the way this guy spoke had a certain ring to it. It had an authority about it that they hadn’t heard before in all their experience. Even the Chief Priests and the teachers of the law didn’t speak like that.
But what was he doing here on his own by the Sea of Galilee? They watched as he drew closer, his feet crunching on the gravel and shell grit at the edge of the lake. First he came to Peter and Andrew as they were casting their nets into the water. He stopped beside them and they looked up, wondering what he might want. "Follow me," he said to them "and I will make you fish for people." He went on a bit further to where James and John were mending their nets and said the same thing: "Follow me and I will make you fish for people." "What, us? Why would you want us to come with you? We don’t know anything about PR or human psychology or motivation or whatever it is you need to fish for people. We’re just honest fishermen. Besides which, how could we leave our safe secure jobs and go off into the never-never with you? We’d be mad to even think about it."
"Follow me and I will make you fish for people." It doesn’t sound like a very wise thing to do does it? Just give up everything you’ve learnt and go off with Jesus to whatever he has in store for you? It sounds a bit foolish in fact. Or is it?
Well, what would you have done? Jesus is standing there in front of you saying "Follow me and I will make you fish for people." What would you do?
Do you know what these fishermen did? We’re told immediately they left their nets and followed him.
These four men obviously didn’t think it was foolish to follow Jesus. Rather, they thought this was the wisest thing in the world. What better thing could you do, in fact than to follow someone who spoke with the authority that Jesus seemed to have, someone who was able to perform miracles of healing the way Jesus did, someone who even had authority over evil spirits.
No, this wasn’t foolishness, it was wisdom. They were the first of many, in fact, who chose to follow Jesus and who later realised just how wise a decision that had been.
But there were others who thought about following Jesus, but for the wrong reason. They foolishly thought that following Jesus would be fun, would be an easy path to fame perhaps. And some thought of following Jesus for the right reason but in the end weren’t wise enough to go through with it.
It happened a couple of years later. Jesus was on the road, teaching and healing people, when someone came up to him and said "I will follow you wherever you go." He thought Jesus was pretty cool. He thought it’d be fun to be one of Jesus’ followers. But he was actually being foolish, because he hadn’t thought out what following Jesus might mean. So Jesus turned to him and said "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man (that’s Jesus) has nowhere to lay his head." It wasn’t going to be a picnic being one of Jesus’ followers. It’d require courage and commitment. It might mean giving up some of the creature comforts he took for granted.