After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee announcing God’s good news, 15 saying, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!”
Jesus calls disciples
16 As Jesus passed alongside the Galilee Sea, he saw two brothers, Simon and Andrew, throwing fishing nets into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” he said, “and I’ll show you how to fish for people.” 18 Right away, they left their nets and followed him. 19 After going a little farther, he saw James and John, Zebedee’s sons, in their boat repairing the fishing nets. 20 At that very moment he called them. They followed him, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired workers
Let me paint a picture or urgency. I was in the 9th grade, and my Civics class took a trip to Washington DC. It was an exciting time. We rode the train from Denver to Chicago – the Union Pacific. We had to change trains in Chicago to the Pennsylvania Railroad. So here we are in the train station, carrying our luggage, and I needed a restroom. It was urgent! I had a hard time finding it which made it all the more urgent. When I finally found the restrooms, I was confronted with pay toilets! It was my first encounter with something like that, and I had no change. Critically urgent! So, I did what any resourceful your man would do … I crawled under the door!
There are many urgent messages in the Bible. Consider Jonah’s message to Nineveh … it was urgent. “Just forty days more and Nineveh will be overthrown” Jonah 3:4. That urgent message was met with an immediate response, even if Jonah really didn’t want them to respond. Nineveh repented and set their lives on the right track – from the king on down.
Today’s passage is another urgent message. There are two callings in this passage. Let’s begin with Jesus’ message. It really is a capsule of the gospel. “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!” (Mark 1:15). Do you hear the urgency? It begins with “change your hearts and lives,” which is another way of saying “ repent.” Yet another way to look at it is to ‘align your life with God.” You might compare it to navigating. If you have a compass it will always showed you which way is north. The rest was up to you. Keeping your bearings on north you can head in any direction necessary to get you where you want to go. Across time, there has always been the need to navigate, especially with an object in motion such as a ship or aircraft. Dead reckoning was one way people navigated. It is the process of projecting my current location by referencing a previously determined position, taking into account things like my direction, speed, course, and conditions around me. Its big limitation was its margin for error, and that errors over a long journey were cumulative. Then GPS came along – global positioning system. The point of reference is a satellite and I carry the receiver with me. It allows me to know where I am and how to get whaere I want to go. One GPS I used had a voice that would tell me, “Recalculating” when ever I got off course. In addition, the phone GPS asks permission to use our location. The choices are: never, only when using the app, or always. The point of all this is that we are called to let God have access to our location … always!
1 Corinthians 7:29-31 is talking about our priorities or ‘the location of our point of reference.’ Paul is concerned with the people and their preoccupation with this world and possessions. He says that we are to orient ourselves to the One who can effectively guide us. “Those who use this world should be like people who aren’t preoccupied with it, because the world in its present for is passing away.” The phrase “be in the world but not of the world” comes to mind.
Jump over to the second of the callings. There are two separate callings of disciples: first, Simon (who would later be called Peter) and Andrew were fishing, casting their nets into the sea. Second, James and John were repairing their nets. All four are in their natural habitat – their work-a-day world. When Jesus intersects them in their everyday life, he calls them to follow, and they do. Notice that they are called without a description of what they are being called to, or where they might be going. Jesus called, and they answered. Would we follow with that little amount of detail? Let’s go back to our GPS navigation. Sometimes I argue with its choice of route. Often it wants me to take the interstate routes, and I know I want to take more of the back roads. Sometime ago, Janna and I were leaving Montrose, CO, after visiting with our niece. There were mountains on all sides, so my usual point of reference was confused. I pulled out and headed in the direction I thought would get us home. The GPS just kept “recalculating.” I thought I was having a difference of opinion with my GPS. I thought it wanted me to go back to Grand Junction and take the interstate, and I didn’t want to. Stubbornly I refused to listen to its continuous line of trying to get me to turn around. When the signs began to point to Ouray coming up I realized I had made a mistake. I only had to back track 20 or 30 miles! I should have listened.
Even after our choice to follow Jesus, to answer his call, we have to follow day by day, and listen to our Guide. The need is urgent, and our response is critical.
That really is our experience of everyday life. We see a little of the way and purpose. We make plans. Yet, the path is always somewhat unknown. God is more than willing to recalculate when we make a wrong turn, but we must be willing to listen and follow.
How have you heard Jesus calling in the past? In the present? I am convinced he calls us every day in some way and asks us to follow his lead.
This brings us back to end of what Jesus is saying in verses 14-15. After the urgency of the beginning, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives”, he says “Trust this good news!” It all comes down to trust. The disciples trusted the One who was calling. They trusted him so much they left everything and followed him. Most of us will not be called to leave everything, but we are called to follow a different path from the path of the world. The need for us to trust is urgent! Our heavenly GPS seeks to show us a still more excellent way.
From the worship book of the people of God, Psalm 62:6-8 reads, “Only God is my rock and my salvation— my stronghold!—I will not be shaken. 7 My deliverance and glory depend on God. God is my strong rock. My refuge is in God. 8 All you people: Trust in him at all times! Pour out your hearts before him! God is our refuge!” After identifying God as the very source of life, our Rock and refuge, the calling is to trust. Especially in these turbulent times we must trust the One who calls us to faith. “On Christ the solid Rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.” When all around us is falling apart, we can stand firm in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The way we stand firm is to trust in the One who knows the way.
What would “putting all my trust in God” look like for me in the days ahead? Will I need to change some of my priorities? Will I need to let go of certain facets of life in order to take on the life God has for me? The calling is urgent. What will our response be? Amen.
Pastor Paul Grossman