3rd Sunday after Epiphany
"A Sense of Calling"
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,
15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.”
16 And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen.
17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.”
18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets.
20 And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him.
Grace and Peace to you from our risen Lord. Amen
In her book, A Man Called Peter, Catherine Marshall tells how her late preacher-husband felt a sense of destiny a sense of call in his life.
One dark night, Peter, then a young man, decided to take a shortcut across the Scottish moors. He knew there was a deep deserted limestone. quarry in that area, but he was confident he could avoid it.
Suddenly, he heard someone call, "Peter" there was great urgency in the voice. Peter stopped and called "Yes who is it? What do you want?"
There was no answer. He walked a few more steps and then heard the voice calling still more urgently, "Peter!"
He paused then stumbled and fell on his knees. Putting out his hand to catch himself, he found nothing there!! He was at the very edge of the abandoned stone quarry. One more step would have meant certain death."
From that calling, Peter Marshall knew he was called by God for the ministry.
Peter Marshall had a sense of calling, a sense that God had a purpose for his life. And I think in the same way each of us have been called by God to fulfill a purpose, to fulfill some task in this life, to become part of God’s over-all plan.
Today four more common men have an encounter with Jesus. If you remember last week’s sermon, we looked at the call of Philip and Nathaniel. Jesus had called Philip and then Philip told Nathanael about his encounter with Jesus. Remember that Nathanael put Philip off with some coarse words, but Philip didn’t back away, but uttered three simple words, come and see. Come and see. Nathaniel came and saw Jesus, had an encounter with him, and believed that he was the Messiah.
In today’s gospel lesson, we have another encounter with Jesus this time in Mark’s gospel. Jesus is beginning his public ministry, and he came into Galilee and passing along by the Sea of Galilee he called these fishermen to become fisher of men.
Notice the technique Jesus used. The text says, "he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, " Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men." And immediately they left their nets and followed him."
Can you feel the urgency, the immediacy, the conviction, of these men.
When Jesus called these fishermen the story could have had a vastly different course. They could have scratched their heads and discussed the pros and cons with each other, their families and neighbors.
"They could have told Jesus, well let us think about it for awhile, maybe something even better will come along.
Maybe a big school of fish will come and we will not be able to leave, maybe our wives won’t let us, maybe our friends will make fun of us for leaving our jobs, our home and our families to follow a guy would will travel around the country side preaching that the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel "
But when Jesus called these fishermen there was none of the above, they didn’t question his call, they didn’t think about it, they didn’t consult their families, they didn’t see if anything better would come along, they followed him. They had a sense of calling and followed Jesus.
When Jesus through his Holy Spirit encounters us today to follow him and let him be the Lord of our lives, he doesn’t want us to think about it, to weigh it, to study the pros and cons, to talk to our family and friends, to wait and see if something better will come along, or the situation in which we find ourselves might improve.
But when Jesus calls us there is a sense of urgency, there is a sense that Jesus is erupting into our lives with such a strong force that we have no choice but to decide now, not tomorrow or the next day, but now, now while he encounters us; while his presence is with us, while we have him besides to to encourage us in our decision. He wants us to have a sense of His calling in our lives.
There were a group of people standing outside a very large and ornate cathedral in Europe and they were admiring the very fine craftsmanship, the detail work, the care and the love that seemed evident in building such a fine place to worship a loving God. One of the men turned to another in the group and said, "Why can’t we build so today? Why can’t we build with such pride, such craftsmanship today, and the other man replied, "They had convictions; we have opinions."
Isn’t that true. The convictions, the integrity the early Christian had for their God is missing today. A lot of people have the opinion that they believe in God only when if it is convenient, or when there is nothing better to do, or when it is socially acceptable, or when they sense they need a favor from God, but there is no conviction to give ones all, ones whole self, ones whole life over to him. When Jesus encounters us, he doesn’t want our opinions about him, he wants our conviction that he is the lord of life, that we are his servants and he is the master, he is the leader. We are the followers,we are his children, he is the father provider.
It is like the boy i the following:
There was a field covered with freshly fallen snow. A father and a son enter the field. As they walk across the field, you notice that the father pays no particular attention to where he is going, but his son, on the other hand, follows directly behind, making a special effort to step in his fathers footprints. After the two have crossed the field, you notice that there is only one set of tracks visible in the field, although two had walked across it. The Christian life is that way. In our daily walk we ought to be following Christ’s example.
When Jesus calls us, when he encounters us, he does so with a sense of urgency, with a sense of immediacy, with a sense of conviction, with a sense of commitment, with a sense that we will turn our entire lives over to him. Then notice what he said, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men."
Having been fishermen, they knew what he was talking about, they would become fishers of men, they would go out and catch others for Jesus. They would catch other with the gospel message of repentance, and forgiveness that Jesus was proclaiming. They would share with others the good news that Jesus was sharing with them. Not only does Jesus call us to a life of urgency and conviction, but he calls us to a task, he calls us to a job, he calls us to do something with what he has given us. He calls us to share, he calls us to give to others what he has first given to us, his love, his caring, his forgiveness.
There is an old Korean legend that I found in a book this week that I would like to share with you. A devote and generous man died and before he allowed St. Peter to usher him through the Pearly Gates he requested that he first take one wee peek at Hell. At the Gateway of Hell he as astounded to see long tables, food laden and sumptuous. In poured the multitudes gaunt ghastly, starved apparently into skeletons. Fastened to the forearm of person were yard-long forks and spoons. They frantically fought to feed themselves, in vain. It was living Hell. Back in Heaven he beheld tables similarly laden, but when the Heavenly host came in, although to each arm was fastened a yard-long fork and spoon, they sat down and began to feed each other. The new resident knew it was Heaven all right what with all that sharing."
Yes, a Christian is one who shares with another, who knows how to share because he or she has been sharing the gospel message while they lived their pilgrimage on this earth. Sharig is the call word, the sign that marks the life of a follower of Jesus. Sharing our faith, sharing our resources, sharing a part of ourselves with others is what this life is all about as we follow the master. Jesus calls us to a life of conviction, to a life of urgency, to a live of sharing,to a live of proclaiming his good news to others. But you might we wonder, who do I share this story with, who is the one that I tell about Jesus? Who???
There was a little girl who had a very large collection of dolls heaped on her bed. A guest in her room one day asked herd "Do you love dolls" Then with tender loving care she spread out the whole collection for the guest to inspect and admire. the gust asked her, "Which doll do you love the most?" She hesitated, then said, " Promise not to laugh if I tell you." He promised. She picked a ragged doll with a broken nose whose hair had mostly come off, and one arm and leg were missing. "This is the one." " Why?" the visitor asked. "Because if I didn’t love this one nobody else would."
Jesus calls us to love the ones in this world that no body else will love. Jesus calls us to reach out to the lonely, to the hungry, to the sick, to the ones in prison, to the disabled, to the forsaken, to the needy, to all of those people who need to hear that someone indeed does loves them and that some one is Jesus Christ.
Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of God that the kingdom of God was at hand. He asks us to go into all the world with that same message, the message of the good news of God and that his kingdom is now it is at hand. Jesus calls us to a live of conviction, to a life of urgency, to a live of reaching out with his message of love and forgiveness to all the people we encounter in life.
The following speaks of Jesus’ plan for us.
An ancient legend tells of Jesus’ ascension into heaven. He is met by the angel Gabriel who asks him, "Now that your work is finished, what plans have you made to insure that the truth you brought to earth will spread throughout the world?"
Jesus answered, "I called some fishermen and tax-collectors to walk along with me as I did my Father’s will."
"Yes, I know about them," said Gabriel. "but what other plans have you made?"
Jesus replied, "I taught Peter, James, and John about the kingdom of God; I taught Thomas about faith; and all of them were with me as I healed and preached to the multitudes."
Gabriel began to lose patience. "Really now, all that is well and good, but surely you must have other plans to make sure your work was not in vain."
Jesus fixed Gabriel with a steady gaze and said with finality, "I have no other plans. I am depending on them!"
Jesus is depending on us!
Written by Pastor Tim Zingale January 16, 2006