Posted on Sun, Jan 22, 2012
January 22, 2012
3rd Sunday in Epiphany
Gospel text: Mark 1:14–20
The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’
Jesus Calls the First Disciples
16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
Seek Ye First (Key of C)
C Em F C
Seek ye first the Kingdom of God
F C G
And His righteousness
C Em F C
And all these things shall be added unto you
F C G C
C Em F C
Ask and is shall be given unto you
F C G
Seek and ye shall find
C Em F C
Knock and the door shall be opened unto you
F C G C
What text did Martin Luther call the Gospel in miniature? Of course, it is John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
But what was the central message that Jesus preached over and over? It is found in today’s Gospel Text, 1:15 and ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’ This is what Jesus preached all over Palestine and the grammar, translating from Greek to English has always been a struggle, but that was just the point. The Gospel announcing the birth of Christ and the process in which God has chosen to work out God’s plan of salvation should never be limited to things like, logic, order and understanding… God’s proclamation and incarnating grace, mercy and justice trounce things like human logic, order and understanding everytime!
Jesus has been baptized, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, he has powerfully passed the temptations of the “Evil One” in the wilderness outside Jericho, and now he has returned to familiar territory not far from the city he was raised, and he is walking along the familiar beaches of the Sea of Galilee… just a big lake, but if you want to do a better job at marketing, call it a “sea.”
He is already preaching his main message, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’ Now is the time to gather ‘disciples,’ those who will walk, preach and teach in Jesus’ discipline, in order to bring this message to more people in more distant lands.
Jesus says, “The time IS fulfilled;” how are we to understand this? What is he saying? What ‘time’ is he talking about? It is not the ‘end’ times. What time? What is being fulfilled? What promise, or promises is he referring to that are to be fulfilled? More importantly, what has changed between the time Jesus was preaching, and the time when ‘the times’ were not fulfilled?
The difference is the presence of Jesus. The physical birth of Jesus, the one who was born to save his people (this is what “messiah” means), made a mere promise become a physical presence. The birth of Christ was the word becoming flesh, real, something you could touch, feel, smell, listen to and interact with… and with Jesus’ baptism we knew that this Jesus was not the ‘Son of Joseph of Nazareth’ but truly God’s Son, in whom God is well pleased and we should listen to him!
What does this mean? When we hear that someone has cancer and our hearts go out to them, one of the first things a Christian should do is remind the person that, “we will pray for them,” and then go out and pray for them. Prayer has real power! This sounds good and truly is comforting to the person stricken with cancer, but deep in their hearts they may also be thinking, “thank you for praying for me, that is very nice of you, but couldn’t you just TAKE THE CANCER AWAY AND HEAL ME?”
And on the other side, the one offering the prayer may also be thinking in their hearts, “If there was any way I could personally remove that evil sickness, I would! Believe me!”
Jesus’ mere presence to all those people living in Palestine, demonstrated the way in which God has chosen to bring about God’s justice, accomplish mercy, and forever mend our relationship with God! Did I say, FOREVER?
Jesus’ mere presence was greater than any evil, any doubt, any broken heart that Jesus would meet, not that everybody believed him or understood him; but again, our understanding, our belief isn’t what accomplished our forgiveness and salvation, it was Christ’s obedience to go to the cross in spite of our arrogance, misunderstanding and stubborn determination to think we ‘could’ know God and therefore control god become gods ourselves!
Therefore, no matter what is going on in our lives, great joy or great sorrow, seemingly insurmountable struggles or smooth sailing, with presence of Jesus in the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom of God is as close to us as the air we breath. “The Kingdom of God is here” and now, may seem easy to say here in Hawaii, but even here in Hawaii underneath those beautiful palms, there are struggles, pains, doubts and fears. Yet, “IF we have eyes to see or ears to hear,” like Jesus liked to say so often, we will see, feel, and touch or be touched by the Kingdom of God.
Jesus is calling disciples, AND US, for a purpose. These 12 men will change the world! After they have witnessed Jesus preach, teach, heal, die and rise again, they will be filled with the Holy Spirit and will be sent out. Why? To make that Kingdom of God known in this world through all the people who, REPENT, turn their lives back to God and allow God to recreate them EVERYDAY into forgiven, redeemed, empowered and inspired People of God.
How do we make this Good News real, relevant and essential for this world? It is through our own faith. Jesus’ final point in his proclamation is to “believe in the good news.” You have heard the Good News, YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED, REDEEMED, MADE NEW AGAIN, “CALLED CHILDREN OF GOD!” Now, go and live in that Good News, whether you believe it or not!!!
Just do it! Do Justice! Love Mercy! Walk humbly with your Creator God! Open your heart to allow you to actually live in joy and hope. Make a difference through your faith, hope, love and walking in the discipline of Jesus! Understanding, logic and pride will are only attributes that focus around you… but faith, hope, mercy and love brings the focus on the one who can truly make a lasting and meaningful difference, Jesus Christ.
These four young men, they trained all their lives to catch fish with their fathers and provide fish for the village. I can just see Zebedee watching his boys go off to ‘who knows where’ with this upstart preacher. But to me, the strangest part of the passage is not hearing Zebedee screaming at his kids trying to make them stop following Jesus and to stay with him in the boats. No protest from Zebedee maybe means the old man had eyes to see and ears to hear, and when he was in the presence of Jesus, he just knew that for the sake of his boys and maybe the world, it would be best to just let them go… let them go and maybe they’ll learn something. Let them go, and maybe with this new teacher from Nazareth, they may even be able to change the world! The world needed a lot of changing then… the world needs a lot of changing now… Go in peace, walk in the discipline of Jesus!
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