Sermon Ideas For Mark 1:14-20 Part 2
A popular song of a few years ago stated, "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world." There is a need deep within the human soul to be wanted; to be important to someone; to be needed. The Gospel is indeed "Good News" to our world for it recognizes that need and offers an invitation to be included. There is always great joy in being chosen. From our earliest days on the school playground we learned the importance of inclusion. As teams were chosen for play, there was no greater thrill than being "picked," and no greater pain than being left out. Being chosen affirms our value and worth. Being chosen reminds us that we have something to offer.
As Jesus called His first disciples, each responded with immediate joy. The joy of being chosen caused each to leave all and follow without even a thought of what the journey would include or where the journey might lead. Each left all... boats, net, families, and security, all for the joy of being chosen by Jesus.
In our need to be needed, can there be a greater solace than that of Christ's Kingdom? When called, we are included both in the eternal kingdom and in the work of that kingdom. Part of what makes the call remarkable for us is in the fact that Christ knows us well and still deems us worthy for his work. Christ knows both his purpose and his people. Not only do we have an invitation to his eternal celebration, we are also treated with the respect and honor given to a special guest. Christ says "Follow me and I will make you fish for people." Translation: "You're important to me and I want your help in building my Kingdom." It is an invitation to joy too great to pass up.
In his words recorded in this context, Jesus offers the challenge of repentance. It is the challenge of changing courses. It is very easy for most of us to become "stuck-in-the-rut nuts." Through the years we tend to develop habits and routines, many of which are unhealthy and non productive. How easy it is to choose a sedimentary lifestyle over that of exercise. We push away from the dinner table and collapse into our recliners. After several years we look down to discover that we can no longer see our feet because of the pounds we have put on around our middles. We suddenly feel the need for a change. The routine has to be altered.
In terms of our spirituality, it becomes just as easy to settle into patterns that cause spiritual lethargy and decay. Much of our routine pushes us further and further from God. The routine of our spiritual life needs to be altered. With His first words of public ministry, Christ boldly proclaims the possibility and potential of repentance. "The Kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news." It is Christ's offer of a new life, a fresh start, a new beginning. Such a change of direction becomes a present reality by our response to the Gospel. The Gospel brings the change. Faith in Christ empowers us to step toward our potential and away from our past.
Dr. Tony Evans, Sr. Pastor of Oak Hill Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, recently described the experience of repentance to listeners at a Promise Keepers conference. He spoke of "life's highway" suggesting that as we journey away from God we need to depart from our sinful path at "confession exit," turn onto "repentance overpass," and find our way to the "reconciliation on-ramp." "Then," he said, "You're headed home!" (Promise Keepers Conference, June 22, 1996, Charlotte, N.C.)
Jesus proclaimed, "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near." It is a challenge to repent with the promise of inclusion when we approach him in faith. His call to repentance is always couched in the language of his forgiving grace. With his call to change, comes the call to service. We are forgiven, and we are welcomed into his presence and mission.
This passage also has something to say about the "Risk of Discipleship." True discipleship is a leap of faith. Simon, Andrew, James, and John were "thrill seekers" of the highest order. So alive their faith, so compelling his call, so immediate their hope, that they risked all to be in his presence. There was no looking back on their part, no hesitancy, no second thought. Jesus called, and they responded. They would soon discover that the greatest risk of discipleship is the risk of missing one moment with Jesus. They were willing to leave the temporal for the eternal; their earthly pursuits for the Heavenly Kingdom. Their experience teaches disciples of our age to follow Christ with reckless abandon in order to discover the greatest joy of his fellowship. We have been invited to a new life. We have been included in the Kingdom. We have been told that we are needed. We have been chosen.
Jon R. Roebuck