Sometimes the message we have to give isn’t the message people want to hear. Sometimes we have to protect ourselves as the old adage ‘don’t shoot the messenger’ becomes dangerously close to the truth. Sometimes it isn’t the message but the way in which it is given. Sometimes the message still has to be told no matter how dangerous or uncomfortable it is to hear.
John‘s message was a dangerous one: Repent for the kingdom of God is near. The message that John gave and his determination to give it no matter how well it was received landed him in prison. But the message was too important for it be incarcerated with him.
Jesus is just beginning his ministry. He has prepared himself with prayer in the desert. He has fought temptation and overcome it, and now he is ready to take on the world. The first piece of news he hears though, is that John, the one who was to go before him, has been silenced. The message of the kingdom has been stopped. Or has it?
Instead of frightening Jesus into silence and away from his ministry, Jesus hears the news that John has been arrested and he picks up the prophetic baton. Jesus’ time is now.
Jesus transform himself from the carpenter’s son into the fisherman: moving from Nazareth to Capernaum by the Sea and seeks those who will be able to help carry the baton, those who will join him in trawling the ‘seas’ of contemporary Israel for those fish who will recognise the kingdom when it comes.
It seems only natural that Jesus’ first disciples then are fishermen. Not ironic fishermen, not virtual, hobby, fishermen, but the real, smelly, scaly, deal. Simon and Andrew are, at that very moment, casting a net into the sea. They are working together to cover a larger area than one man and his rod might do, and Jesus calls them to follow him, which, unbelievably, they do, leaving their net behind them so that someone else may benefit from the catch of the day. As Jesus moves on, with the two fishermen trailing behind him, he spies two other fishermen – this time they are mending old nets as Jesus calls them to something new: fishing for people. They leave their father sitting in the boat as they follow Jesus.
Perhaps these fishermen were simply looking for a new adventure when Jesus called them? Perhaps James and John had been arguing with their father as they sat in the boat tediously mending nets, again, when Jesus called? And yet we know that these men returned to fishing at various points in their life – they didn’t hate fishing, it’s just that they loved the sense of adventure that Jesus offered.
We are in the season of Epiphany, the season of revelation, of understanding fully, of ‘aha!’ When Jesus approached these four fishermen, these four disciples, he was revealing something of himself. John the Baptist had always said that he was preparing the way for one greater, and now here came one, in John’s wake, bearing the same message, but delivering it with a sense of….divinity?
What new revelation will we discover about Jesus this year? What ‘aha’ moment will we have as we listen to the words of John the baptist ‘repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near’.Will we take that message on board and allow it to lead us away from the broken tangled old nets we keep trying to mend, and into something new and full of life and hope? Will we keep trawling the same waters expecting something different, or will we abandon those nets and cast our energies elsewhere, in our response to Jesus’ calling of our lives?
Read the gospel story here
Something to watch:
Something to think about:
- Is there anything as mundane as mending old nets in your life?
- Is there anything you would like to change?
- Is there anything you need to change?
- Jesus carried John’s message – what do you think that message might be for us today, as individuals, as churches, as nations?
- How can we be transformed into ‘fishers for people’ in our culture?
Something to pray:
Pair up with someone to pray for each other in your ‘work’ places as you seek to go fishing.