January 25, 2015 Text: Mark 1:14-20
Dear Friends in Christ,
One of the helpful inventions of the 21st century has been “Caller ID.” It allows you to know who is calling. It has been especially helpful here in the church office as it cuts down on wasting time talking to companies who are selling or individuals who just want something. Who is calling makes a difference.
Today in our Gospel lesson the “who is calling” makes a difference as well. The voice of Jesus is the one identified. Will the men being called recognize it and how will they react? Come along as the call is made.
Right away in our text the caller is identified. “After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.’” (vs. 14-15)
What is so important about “the kingdom of God is at hand?” What and where is this “kingdom of God?” All we can see is this lone new guy in town named Jesus who says to repent and believe the Gospel all because a kingdom is now at hand.
We don’t think much about kingdoms these days. But to the ears of first-century Palestine, “kingdoms” would have been a subject of great familiarity. Their minds may have focused on the oppressive, mighty rule of Rome – which they knew and experienced all too well. They may have thought of the Old Testament references to the “Sovereign Lord” – envisioning a master who sat high on a throne – personally ruling over his subjects. In either case, their minds would have been on a kingdom of power, a kingdom of might, not a kingdom like the one Jesus was bringing.
So this Jesus needs to build His kingdom. He begins along the Sea of Galilee with a couple of brothers named Andrew and Simon who were fishermen. The caller does not identify himself, we are told he says, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” If you are Andrew and Simon are you going to answer this call? Are you going to pick up?
There is always a response when Jesus calls. His presence – whether in the flesh in the first century, or by inspired Word in the twenty-first century – forces the issue. We may try to straddle the fence, but the edge is simply too narrow. Every encounter with Jesus is a force to be reckoned with. His Law crushes us – forcing us to admit we are sinners. His Gospel lifts us – freeing us to rejoice that we are forgiven sinners.
Jesus needed these men for the building of His kingdom – a future kingdom – a Kingdom called the Church. He would need foremen – pastors – to help build the Church. Jesus will train them for a far greater work than they have been doing, namely the work of winning men for the gospel and salvation.
“Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” They did not stand there and stew over the Caller ID. What should we do? Do we know this guy? They probably did as we can see from John chapter 1. But this call will affect the rest of their lives. Look at the trust as they follow Jesus for the schooling they were now to receive for a far greater calling. The key is the one making the call.
Look at this call and the one to James and John. Both came on a regular workday. Fishing, mending nets, going about their daily tasks. Your “ordinary” call to your daily tasks comes with the call to proclaim the Savior. Right now, right here, wherever Monday office or Tuesday lunch or Thursday errands find you. The caller has ID’d you. With the help of the Holy Spirit we say this in the meaning to the 3rd Article of the Apostle’s Creed, “He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.” The Callers ID was put on you at Baptism, marks you as you inwardly digest His Holy Scripture and lifts you up in the Lord’s sacred meal.
The Holy Spirit helps us to pick up when we are called. As with a phone call that identifies a person you have been waiting to hear from, we excitedly heed the call of our Savior. When He calls you to share the faith with a friend or family member. When He calls you to share the truth when someone you know struggles with sin. When He calls you to prepare and serve a meal to the destitute and homeless. When He calls you to serve your congregation as they have need of elders. When He calls you to shepherd your children in the ways of the Lord. This caller – the Savior Jesus Christ – wants you to answer. He doesn’t want you to check your phone and walk away.
The phone is ringing, will you pick up?