Come, Follow Me! Following
Rev. Sandy Johnson
January 14, 2018
I want to begin this morning by choosing teams. (select two people) to come up and be team captains. You must pick five people each, when your name is called you must come up and stand behind your captain. Now, Go!
Ok, stop. Teams, thank you very much, you can go back and have a seat.
Did this exercise elicit any reactions? Memories? I can remember being lined up in the field at my elementary school. Two team captains were selected (don’t believe I was ever selected for that role), and then the excruciating experience of selection…please don’t let me get picked last!! It can be an affirming or humiliating experience, depending on when you are picked.
Don’t we all want to be picked? And picked first!
Our scripture this morning from Mark is the story of Jesus, our team captain, picking his team, selecting his all-stars. Although the other team isn’t represented, it is implied that we can either be selected to be on Jesus team, or on the other team. We all want to be on Jesus team, right?
The story begins as Jesus was walking along the shore, alongside the Sea of Galilee. While walking along he was watching the fishermen who were there, tending to their nets. We don’t know if Jesus was known to these men, the Gospel of Mark doesn’t share that. Is it possible that they had they met earlier? All we know for sure is that it appears that Jesus commands the men to follow, and they follow that directive, “immediately.”
Did these fishermen have any information before they made their decision? Did Jesus explain what he was asking them to do, leaving their businesses and embarking on a new adventure? Were they even really given a choice?
Where there men asked, who declined Jesus’ offer? We don’t know if Jesus had approached Steve and Martin and they politely declined. We don’t know do we? Does it seem likely that they would drop everything to follow Jesus? Likely or not, that is what happened.
From the way the scripture is written it almost sounds like Jesus walked by and said, hey, you, over there, come over here. You’re hired, you work for me now. No interview, no resume, Jesus saw something in these men and selected them. He picked them for his team, two sets of brothers, fishermen from The Galilee.
Why did Jesus pick these guys? Was there something extraordinary about them? Had Jesus been watching them, and saw their physical strength as they managed the boat and the nets? Were their muscles bulging and their nets overflowing with the day’s catch? Perhaps he had asked around, checking in with the locals to get references.
Both sets of brothers were businessmen as well as fishermen. Their business was fishing, that is how they made a living and how their family survived. I wonder what Jesus saw in them. I imagine that Jesus saw into their hearts and knew they were just the type of guy to become the disciple he needed to fish for people.
Simon and Andrew, and James and John saw something in Jesus that drew them also. Can you imagine what they heard from Jesus that would cause such an immediate decision? One that would likely negatively impact their families when they left their jobs as to follow this man.
Most Rabbi’s disciples during biblical times would train for months before they were invited to take such an important role as being a trusted disciple, a close associate of a religious leader. Not so with Jesus. With the eyes of God, he was able to discern his people and they responded. The people Jesus calls are those who are faithful, faithful to the call and able to express willingness to trust God with the details.
You see, when we answer the call, we can’t know everything we need to know, before we start something new. We are rarely prepared! God doesn’t call those who are already equipped, he equips those he calls. These fishermen were faithful. And we are called to be so also.
We must be faithful in answering whatever call God places on our life. When we are quiet, sitting still and able to hear the calling and respond as God intends us to, God provides the resources needed to answer the call fully and completely. God provided for these fishermen and their families so that they could do the job before them, so they could join Jesus’ team.
I noticed that Jesus came to them. He didn’t put up a sign and invite people to join him at a park or a large venue or even at a church. He went outside, into the streets, or along the shore, and met the fishermen where they were. This is a model we are to follow also.
Several years ago when I was lay leader at FaithSprings UMF we did tons of events in the community, things we could invite our neighbors too. Movie nights, spaghetti dinners, Easter egg hunt in the park, you know the drill. The largest we did was one August before school started. We collaborated with a couple of other churches. We had bounce houses, music, free haircuts, backpacks for kids, school supplies, dental screening, you name it, we had it. Snow cones! Yep, we had them! We spent more than $10,000 for that event.
When it was all said and done, we realized that we hadn’t made any lasting connections with any of the people who came. It was a business transaction. We had something they wanted, and it was free. They came and received it and left. Transaction completed.
We had the same experience with the Easter Egg Hunt here in Boulder City. We had thousands of eggs, hundreds of children and their parents and grandparents, but not one lasting relationship was formed. Not one life was changed because of it. We invited them, they came, end of story.
What Jesus demonstrates in our lesson this morning is that for us to be successful at making disciples of Jesus Christ, for the transformation of the world, we have to go where the people are. We have to volunteer at Lend A Hand, Emergency Aid, Art in the Park, or the Film Festival. We have to be involved in clubs and organizations that aren’t church related. Rotary, Elks, The Masonic Temple, the BC Museum, the Chamber of Commerce, Sons of Norway, AA. We have to go places where the usual church people don’t go. The only way we are going to be face to face with God’s lost children is to go where they are. We have to leave the church to follow Christ!
Notice also in our story that the fishermen called by Jesus, responded with a sense of urgency, they “immediately” left their nets and followed him. We must be both like Jesus and go where the people are, and like the fishermen-turned-disciple and respond when Jesus calls and not respond next week sometime, but respond immediately as scripture says. The longer we think about it the less likely we are to do what it is God’s asking us to do. It’s simply human nature.
I can’t help but wonder what Jesus said that was so compelling that they would drop everything to follow. Or were they also able to see into Jesus heart and knew that this was an opportunity of a lifetime and they were compelled to follow.
What is Jesus’ invitation to us today? What is he telling us that is so compelling that we would all leave everything and follow him? Jesus is love, kindness, compassion, grace, peace, forgiveness, and eternal life? That’s the team I want to be on. We want to be picked for the team. We want to be on Jesus team and don’t want to be the last picked.
The good news is Jesus is constantly picking new people for his team and no one is ever last, or considered less than.
Close your eyes, listen for Jesus to call your name, can you hear it? He’s picking you. Will you follow? Here I am Lord, pick me.