Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him. Mark 1:14-20
They abandoned their nets and followed him. They left their father Zebedee in a boat along with the hired men and followed him. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent.
When God calls us to follow Him, we always have to leave something behind. We can’t take our former life with us. We abandon our nets, we leave our family in the boat and we go. And for those of us who like to tie up loose ends, God doesn’t really allow us any of that. Luke 9 tells a story of a man promising to follow Jesus. “BUT FIRST let me go bury my father,” he says. Jesus response seems almost cold hearted, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another says, “I will follow you, Lord; BUT FIRST let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus responds, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
If we are going to call ourselves Christ followers, we must follow in the footsteps of the fishermen. There’s no carrying out nets with us. We have to drop everything and run. Full and total repentance.
And yet we, modern-day Christians, do try to carry our nets with us. Our addictions. Materialism. Unhealthy relationships. Obsessions. Desire for physical comfort. Character flaws. We carry them all with us and try to tell God that we can do both, but we can’t. If we’re going to REALLY call ourselves Christ followers, we have to abandon our nets. Some nets we’ve spent our life holding, building, pouring time into, and yet they keep us from the Lord. Some nets we think we can take with us if we keep them private, yet they eat away at our soul. Some nets stand counter to the Kingdom of God and yet we try to work them in somehow, hoping God won’t ask us to give them up. Some nets we think we don’t have the strength to leave behind.
But with God all things are possible. It won’t feel good, that’s for sure. We all have addictions to our different nets – that friend that tempts us to gossip, our obsession with our looks, the hours spent in front of the television, our bragging about being too ‘busy’ to have time to serve God, our favorite fashion store, our ‘workaholism,’ our love for sulking or complaining or holding onto hurt from years ago… Giving addictions up will cause us to go into withdrawal and that’s no fun. But if we can keep our eyes on our Savior, if we can replace our nets with the Kingdom of God, we will find joy.
And so this week we ask:
What net do I need to abandon?
What excuses am I using to not follow Jesus NOW?
What would Jesus say to me if I were in His disciples’ shoes?
Am I able to call myself a disciple?
If you have a net that is weighing you down and keeping you from fully following Jesus, it’s time to throw it down. Abandon it. And don’t look back.
“Lord, your summons echoes true when you but call my name. Let me turn and follow you and never be the same. In your company I’ll go where your love and footsteps show. Thus I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me.”