The sermon from Sunday, January 21, 2018 on Mark 1:14-20 –
Let us hug this text closely tonight. It is quite familiar, this beginning of the ministry of Jesus.
It’s also tightly packed with things we might wisely pay attention to.
As we find in Mark, there is much of great value immediately given to us.
So let’s look closely at the text –
Now after John was arrested,
We talked about John a couple of weeks ago, right. John the baptizer who baptized Jesus. John who lived humbly and taught truths and heralded the coming of Jesus.
Let us be clear that just as Jesus begins his ministry, there is clear evidence that there may be a price to may for living faithfully.
John the baptizer, the prophet, has been arrested. He will imprisoned and he will die there, executed on a whim and a promise, slaughtered because he preached truth and offended power.
Let us begin this journey under no illusions. The path of faithful witness cannot be a lifeless token commitment.
We live a life of faith because it is the right thing to do. There are easier ways to live. Let there be no question of that.
Kick back, turn on the tv, care about your own only. There are easier ways to live.
But your call is to something greater, dearer than that.
John shows us the courage and discernment – and the cost – of such a life.
Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God,
Here we go – Jesus begins his ministry and teaching.
Proclaiming whose good news?
Let us be clear of our focus. This is the good news of God.
and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’
The time is fulfilled. That’s hard for us in our time-obsessed society. Capitalism makes time a commodity. Our Western culture insists that we measure down to the second.
There are lots of ways we could go with this, but in this moment (!), let me suggest to you this interpretation.
The time is now.
The time to orient your life to the good news of God is now.
The time to make Jesus your model and to reject the crass materialism, white supremacy, elitism, homophobia, xenophobia, transphobia, ableism, ageism, and pure greed of our age . . . is now.
The time for each of us to follow the path of Jesus is now.
For the realm of God is here and now as well as anything that might come in the hereafter.
God calls us to act in this moment, which is our moment in this world.
Repent, and believe in the good news
This life of faith calls for continual humility. It calls upon us to be aware of our own power – for indeed each of us in this room has some form of power.
Repent of the harm you have caused.
Repent of the harm we have caused.
Repent of our complicity with the poisons of the world.
Believe that there is another way and that we can all choose to live that way.
Believe in the good news that God wants for us all love and justice and mercy and the whole-hearted manifestation of compassion for all living beings and the body of the earth.
Believe in the good news.
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—
As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
I’m skipping around a bit here for a point that’s really important, y’all.
Jesus finds Simon and Andrew casting their net into the lake.
Take note. This is 2 men and a net. Simon and Andrew and their net. These are poor men who get by.
He stops there first.
Jesus brings them on first.
That’s all they have.
He keeps going and he finds James and John. Here they are on their boat with their father and the hired men and their assorted nets.
He calls them as well.
Look at this radical act. It’s right here. The men with nothing but a net, standing by the lakeshore. And those who have a boat and the means to hire others.
Jesus starts out radical.
Jesus calls the poor men and the comfortable ones.
He stops first among the lowly.
He don’t start in Mountain Brook.
He starts in North Birmingham.
And he invites everyone to the opportunity to follow the path set before us by God.
And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
This ain’t about waiting for the right moment.
The time to begin following this path is right now.
This is about how we are oriented.
What are you turned to face?
The pursuit of pleasure and leisure and safety will always lure you.
But the call is to immediate discipleship.
What are you waiting for?
What’s stopping you from walking that path right now?
How are you called, in this moment, in this very moment, to participate and share in the mission of Jesus, the living out of the Gospel?
The urgency is not a matter of anxiety. It is a matter of continually – in every moment – enacted promise.
Let us live into that promise.