Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

07/06/14 Sermon - Let's Go Fishing

Mark 1: 14-20
“Let’s Go Fishing”
 

We have started reading the Gospel of Mark and I wanted to clarify exactly what is meant by the word “gospel”. The word gospel was used centuries before Jesus arrived on the scene. The word literally means “good news”. You see when kings had news they wanted their subjects to know, such as the birth of a new king, or the defeat of an invading army they would send heralds out to share the “gospel”.

In the Old Testament, God sent his prophets to announce the coming of the King of Kings, the Messiah. And now, in the New Testament scripture which Maryann read today, Jesus sets off to share the gospel,

the good news concerning the Kingdom of God.

This news was to be heralded for the next 2000 + years, that all humankind should hear that God’s Kingdom  was now at hand for all who were ready to receive it.

We have four gospels recorded in the New Testament and each one has the same climax, ……..the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Mark’s gospel, as I said last week, which is thought to be the oldest and is the shortest targeted Gentiles as the intended audience. Now, when we look at Mark’s gospel, we can divide it into two distinct parts.

The first portion describes the ministry of Jesus in Galilee. This ministry begins with today’s passage, directly following the imprisonment of John the Baptist.

 

The second part will occur when Jesus turns towards Jerusalem.

 

As we will notice, Mark will be short and to the point, throughout his gospel.

 

We have barely started the first chapter and Jesus has been baptized, gone through a time of temptation and now we see that John the Baptist has been arrested. Mark doesn’t give us many details, like how long it has been between the temptation and Jesus’ entering Galilee and the time John the Baptist is put into prison. What Mark does point out is….

 
“The time has come,
the kingdom of God is near,
Repent and believe the good news!”
 
This bears repeating…..
 
“The time has come,
the kingdom of God is near,
Repent and believe the good news!”
 
What is the “kingdom of God”?
 

By 2014, we have figured out what the “good news” is, but,

What exactly is the “kingdom of God”?

The word “kingdom” means, in this context, more than a territory or an area of land. It literally means “sovereignty” or “reign” and the “power to rule” and “exercise authority”. Jesus was telling people, “The time you have heard about from the prophets, is near.”

 God did not send his Son to establish an “earthly kingdom” but to provide a way for us to enter his heavenly kingdom,

a kingdom ruled by
truth,
justice,
peace and
holiness.
Wow, sounds great, doesn’t it?

The kingdom of God is the central theme of Jesus’ mission here on earth and it is the core of his gospel message. 

As we continue to read we’ll notice not many of those who were with Jesus understood this concept of “kingdom”.

 

As we continue reading in Mark,  we have Jesus walking along the Sea of Galilee. He sees two fishermen, Simon and his brother Andrew, casting their net into the lake. Jesus calls to them,

“Come, follow me,
And I will make you fishers of people.”
AT ONCE, they leave their nets and follow him.
 
 

The three of them go a little further and they see James and John the sons of Zebedee, in a boat, preparing the nets to go fishing. Jesus calls to them, and WITHOUT DELAY, the brothers leave their father, and the hired men and follow Jesus.

 

I don’t know about you, but my curiosity begs me to ask Mark,

 

What was it about Jesus that compelled these four fishermen, and later on, many others, to drop everything, and follow Jesus?

 

And when I thought about it more, I realized, it is probably a good thing Mark doesn’t give us the details.

Because if he did, we would look at the details and then think to ourselves,

“Well that detail is one that is either worth it to me to drop everything and follow Jesus”…. and so I will,

or

“That detail is not worth it to me to drop everything and follow Jesus”….. so I won’t.

I don’t think it is about any specific detail or the charismatic personality of Jesus that would make us drop everything and follow Him.

I think it has more to do with what some call our “sixth sense.” Our spiritual, soul side of us which comprehends the presence of God when you see it and realizes that even though it doesn’t make sense intellectually, ……..

spiritually,
and inside,
It’s the right thing to do.
 

Let’s face it, dropping your nets in the water and leaving them is a big no, no if you make your living as a fisherman. The word, “irresponsibility” screams loudly and clearly.

 

And what about walking away from a family business? Father Zebedee is left holding the nets, and all that is left around him is lots of nets and hired men? Not one of his sons is going to be there to hand down the business that Father Zebedee has worked so hard to create?

These are scenarios that don’t make sense, at least not intellectually or relationally. 

And what about the fact that Jesus starts out choosing disciples who are fishermen. Four out of the twelve he called happened to fish for a living. That equals one third of the twelve disciples.

Mark tells us when Jesus calls these men, He tells them He is going to teach them to “fish for people”,

 
Obviously a metaphor of some kind.
 

Well here’s where I think the church has taken this as a metaphor more literally than I think it was intended. It seems to me the method in which the Church has chosen to “fish for people”, especially amongst the evangelical circle, has been something like this:

Share the gospel = “Throw out your net”
Make sure the person you are trying to “catch”
Makes a decision for Christ = Now they are “caught”
Now it’s time to count the number you have caught.

And based on the number, the person doing the fishing has either done a good or poor job at fishing for people.

 

I am not so sure that is what Jesus had in mind when He said He was going to teach them to “Fish for people”.

I think Jesus was talking about teaching his disciples how to take the characteristics they had as fishermen and use them to fish for people instead.

 

For those of us who have been brought up on the coast of Maine, I think you can immediately come up with a list of characteristics necessary to be good at catching fish.

I have a few that came to mind:
  • Patience –
  • The need to observe the depths –
  • Tenacity –
  • Being willing to sacrifice self comfort –
  • Being able to tune into the elements –
  • Having an ability to face disappointments – how often do fishsermen come home with less than expected?

I would like to look at the sport’s fisherman’s way of fishing and see if it might make more sense.

Most sport fishermen practice a technique known as “catch and release”.

In order to catch the fish, one still needs the characteristics I mentioned before:

  • Patience –
  • The need to observe the depths –
  • Tenacity –
  • Being willing to sacrifice self-comfort –
  • Being able to tune into the elements –
  • Having an ability to face disappointments

But instead of catching the fish and counting it, and saying I have led this many people to Christ,

What if we took the good news we know
to the people we know and meet
and share the truth of the Bible.
 
 

Then, instead of manipulating, cajoling and trapping them, into making a verbal decision and being done,

we allow them the freedom to re-enter the waters of life and make up their own minds which way they are going to swim.

We encourage them to listen to God.

We continue to talk with them, and ask them to join us in our school of fish, where they can learn more and we can walk with God,

Together.  

So often we think evangelism and decisions to follow Jesus are up to the one who tells.

That is wrong.
We are asked only to share the message.

Let me share a couple verses from God’s word that explain this.

 

John 5:24 - Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; but will cross over from death to life.”

 

Romans 10:17 – Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”

Each one of us here,
That has chosen to follow Christ,
Has done so because we heard God’s Word,
Believed it,
And decided to live our life by it.

Sure, there may have been a person or fisherman, sharing the word,

But ultimately, it was the Holy Spirit and our soul that made it happen.

 

Now some of you may be listening today and you may be saying,

“All fine and good, except I’m not sure I have the characteristics it takes to be a “fisher of people”.

I lack patience, or
I am not so good at sacrificing self-comfort.
Whatever excuse you may have,
is exactly that,
an excuse.
You see, Jesus didn’t say,
“Hey guys, let’s go fishing for people”.
 
He said,
“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of people”.
That is the message I have for you today.
“Follow Jesus,
and He will make you fishers of people”.
When we get to know Jesus better and follow him
we develop the characteristics in us

that Jesus had in Him.

I think it goes back to what I stated before.

The decision to drop everything and follow Jesus has more to do with listening to that still small voice inside you, that sixth sense, and comprehending the presence of God when you see it and realizing that even though it doesn’t make sense intellectually…..

spiritually, inside, it’s the right thing to do.
And once we decide to follow Jesus,
He will make us fisher of people.
Things in our lives will change for the better
and as they change,
we share the changes and tell others.

Then others hear the good news and want to follow too.

There is definitely a cycle here.

Fishing for people takes patience, tenacity and hard work.

But in order to maintain sustainability we need those characteristics. And the best way I have found to learn them is to follow Jesus.

So, please join me…..  “Let’s go fishing!”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The resurrection is the principle teaching of Mark and the other three Gospels, and it is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions. Many of us have been taking communion for as long as we can remember. To us it has become a ritual that is as common place as decorating a Christmas tree at Christmas time. But there is a significant difference that we need to remember. Most of the people in America decorate Christmas trees. However, most of the people in America no longer believe that communion is significant.

And yet it is unique.

Christianity is the only faith that claims that Christ is the true Son, sent from the Father, was crucified, died, and buried and then three days later, was raised from the dead, and that by believing and receiving this fact, we too can be resurrected, by that same power.

There is only one way to heaven, and according to Mark and the rest of the Bible, that way is Jesus. And as Christians we come together today to remember the sacrifice God made for us.

And this week, as Americans, we come together and remember, our Independence and freedom to do so. The Independence of Americans is also unique. The Declaration of Independence allows us the freedom to worship God, freely.

And today we do so. We come to the communion table and thank God for his sacrifice and for the freedom we have to remember this sacrifice, together, as a church.