Mark 1:14 – 20
January 21, 2018
I will never forget a Bible Study group I taught at the first Church I served. It was not long after I started my ministry there and we were studying the book of Mark. The night we were studying Mark 1:14-20, the passage we are looking at today, I thought I had come up with a provocative question to span the gap of the “there and then” of the scripture passage and make it more “here and now” for the folks attending the study. I wanted them to start thinking about their response to the call of Christ, so I asked: “If Jesus were to come up to you and say: “Follow me!” what would be your response?” Without hesitation, one person looked at me and said: “I know what yours would be. You’d say — ‘I’ll have to ask Sally’.” My provocative question had backfired on me.
Our gospel lesson for today is Mark’s version of the call of Simon, Andrew, James, and John. Jesus appears on the scene preaching that the kingdom of
God had come and that it was time to repent, to believe, to live a new life, and to respond to God. The Jews had prayed and waited for centuries for the Messiah. Years had passed. Many even quit believing that the Messiah was ever going to come. But then it happened. Jesus appeared. It was no longer time for waiting, it was time for acting. The kingdom was among them. God had acted in a new way. The Messiah had come. Salvation was a reality, and not just a prayer or an idea. It was time to repent. It was time to change. It was time to live a new life. It was time to follow Christ.
Jesus calls Simon and Andrew, and they don’t seem to turn the question. They don’t even ask their wives. They immediately drop their nets and follow. Jesus then calls James and John, and they don’t seem to turn the question, either. They don’t ask their wives! They don’t even ask their father, who is sitting in the boat with them. They immediately drop their nets and follow. The kingdom of God had come. It was time to respond. Either they were going to follow or they weren’t, but the decision had to be made. It was time!
But was it only that time?
No. Christ’s call comes again and again to each of us and each time we hear Christ call us to repent, to let our lives be changed, to follow Him instead of our own will and to serve Him and serve others instead of ourselves it’s time! It’s time to decide which way we are going to go. It’s time to decide how we are going to respond. It’s time to decide what we are going to do. The call of Christ to repent and follow Him is just as urgent now as when He first gave it. Now. Here. It’s time! It’s time to decide how you are going to live. It’s time to decide how you are going to respond. It’s time to decide if you are going to follow Christ.
I’m afraid we don’t feel the same urgency for following Christ as Simon, Andrew, James and John must have felt. Simon, Andrew, James, John and others Jesus called must have felt that there was some urgency to what Jesus said or they would not have responded as they did. Jesus’ call to repent and believe must have struck a chord within them to show them that He was the one to follow. But these days it seems that following Christ is just an option for our lives we can choose if we wish but certainly don’t have to choose. Following Christ has lost its urgency for many. It’s just one of many options for life that can be chosen or not. But we treat the call of Christ to repent, to live a new life and to follow Him as just another option for life to choose or not at our peril. The truth is that following Christ means life as God intended, while not following Christ means a separation from God and forsaking the life God has planned for us.
You can’t see Christ’s call to repent and follow as an option among many and still find salvation. You can’t see Christ’s call to repent and follow as an option to choose or not choose and still find real life. It is not an option for life among many. If you want to live in God’s ways and find salvation, it is the only option. It’s the only way.
So it’s time to decide. Right here.Right now. It’s time to repent. It”s time to turn to God. It’s time to turn away from your ways and your excuses and turn to God.
Lesslie Newbigin was a Missionary to Africa. He tells the story of a day he truly learned what repentance, what turning and following God truly meant. One day he and some others were going to make a journey into the jungles of Africa to another village. They got up before sunrise so they could get most of their journey underway before the African heat became unbearable. As they began their journey, travelers they passed heading in the opposite direction seemed to be in the darkness, just as Newbigin and his group were. Soon, however, Newbigin noticed that the faces of those traveling in the opposite direction seemed to be shining with a glow he did not understand. He finally asked one what made that glow. The traveler laughed and said “Turn — my friend — and face the light!” Newbigin turned, and saw the most beautiful sunrise he had ever seen.
That’s what repentance is all about. Turning your life around and facing God’s light. It’s about saying “Yes” to God and dropping everything else.
So, are you going to live your life saying “Yes” to the call of God to repent, to change, and follow Him or are you not? Are you going to support the work of God in the world or are you not? Are you going to support the work of the Church by your money, your abilities, and your attendance or are you not? Are the things of God going to be important to you, or not? Is attendance at worship, Sunday School, Bible Study, times when we reach out to others and fellowship times going to be important to you, or not? Are you going to accept God’s gracious invitation to repent, to change, to live a new life and experience salvation, or are you not? It’s time to decide.
Maybe you have never decided to repent and follow Christ. Maybe you never decided to live in the ways of God instead of the ways of sin. If that’s the case, it’s time!
Maybe you have accepted Christ as your Savior but never let Christ totally change your life. If that’s the case, it’s time!
Maybe your life was changed by Christ at one time, and you were doing well and living in God’s ways, showing God to the world, supporting the work of the Church, but at some point you lost your excitement and you need to recommit to hrist and His ways. If that’s the case, it’s time!
Simon, Andrew, James and John dropped all they had and followed Christ into a new life of faith, devotion, and discipleship, where Christ guided them and they followed.
Have you decided to do the same?
Christ is calling. It’s time you made your response. Amen.