Sermon Ideas For Mark 1:14-20 Part 3
"O Lord, with your eyes you have searched me, and while smiling, have called out my name. Now my boat's left on the shoreline behind me. Now with you, I will seek other seas."1
What was it about Jesus that made him so attractive to people? According to Mark's account, all it took was a word from him (albeit a very catchy phrase) for the disciples to leave their nets behind forever and go with him to fish for people. Perhaps what made them leave and follow him was the opportunity for real change and real life—not only for themselves, but for others, too. Here at last was a chance to make a difference. The choice was instantaneous, and there was no looking back.
There is a sense of urgency in the call of Christ to the disciples. There seems to be a sense of "it's now or never"ness. In David Wilcox's song "Hold It Up to the Light," he sings of the importance of making decisions that transform life.
"It's too late to be caught in the crossroads. Each life here—each a possible way. But wait and they all will be lost roads. Each road's getting shorter the longer I take."2
The lack of decision seems to be a decision in itself. The longer we wait—the more time is lost on the way to life that God has planned.
There have been many great men who through their charisma for life and their call to justice have gotten others to follow. Instantly, it seems as if people recognize a leader amid the darkness that will lead them to the light. Many have been immortalized in great films: Ghandi (Ghandi), X (Malcolm X), and King (Martin Luther King, Jr.). Recently, the life of William Wallace of Scotland was put forth in the film Braveheart. In the movie, William Wallace calls his countrymen to arms against the oppressive powers that control Scotland. Those who encounter Wallace join with him without much resistance (except those who are in the power structure). The charisma of Wallace leads people to bring a new justice to his homeland. The call is not to free themselves only, but to free others as well. Once the decision is made, there is no turning back. Even though Wallace himself is killed at the end of the movie, the struggle for justice continues until independence for Scotland is won.
In the movie, Shadowlands, based on the life of C.S. Lewis, there is a different kind of dilemma that the protagonist faces. When the C.S. Lewis character meets a woman named Joy, he is confronted with a decision. He must choose between keeping her distant and not knowing love, or letting her in, even though she will soon die. In the movie, he decides that he is willing, like the disciples, to give up everything for her, for he knows that time is limited. Her presence with him fulfills an emptiness within him that only she could fill for him.
We can only speculate why the disciples in our passage today immediately left their nets to follow Jesus. Perhaps it is because they were searching for something or someone that would give their lives purpose. Perhaps they, like the character in Shadowlands knew that Jesus held an answer to the emptiness that they felt in their lives. Perhaps there was a charismatic flair to Jesus that was just undeniable and simply had to be followed, like the flair of William Wallace. Perhaps it was all of these and much more. Another possibility is that the disciples on the shore were opened up to the possibility of seeing God at work among them—they recognized Jesus as one who could change the world. In any case, the decision to leave everything behind had tremendous consequence not only for their own lives, but for the life of the world.
The call for us today seems to be for us, like the disciples, to be open to follow the call of God when it comes. Now our job is to recognize God when God comes to us in the midst of our everyday existence. Ann Weems in her poem "The Coming of God," urges us to be ready to recognize God's presence among us:
Our God is the One who comes to us in a burning bush, in an angel's song, in a newborn child. Our God is the One who cannot be found locked in the church, not even in the sanctuary. Our God will be where God will be, with no constraints, no predictability. Our God lives where our God lives, and destruction has no power and even death cannot stop the living. Our God will be born where God will be born, but there is no place to look for the One who comes to us. When God is ready God will come even to a godforsaken place like a stable in Bethlehem. Watch... for you know not when God comes. Watch, that you might be found whenever wherever God comes.3
1. "Tu Has Venido a la Orilla" ("Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore") written by Cesareo Gabarain. Translation by Gertrude Suppe, George Lockwook and Raquel Achon. C: 1979 Ediciones Paulinas. (in the USA-OCP Publications, Portland, Oregon. Translation copyright, The United Methodist Publishing House, 1989.) 2. "Hold It Up to the Light" from Big Horizon words and music by David Wilcox, 1994. 3. From Kneeling in Bethlehem. ©1980 Ann Weems. Used by permission of Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved.