Sermon for January 22, 2023 Third of Epiphany “Jesus Calling”
How long is a reasonable time for waiting? Well it may depend on the context. If calling 911 seconds can seem like hours. Waiting for luggage can seem like forever. But what about waiting for a Messiah? Well for the people of Israel the wait was thousands of years. According to the genealogy of Jesus about 72 generations from the first prophesies to the birth of Jesus and then another 30 for Jesus ministry to begin. That has got to be a world record for waiting.
Generations praying and waiting for the Messiah can lead to not believing in the promise or the prayer. But in the century before this current era, John the Baptizer appeared seemingly out of nowhere proclaiming the imminent arrival of the Messiah. And then Jesus appeared and began his ministry. His first task was to call those who would be the first disciples and followers. The Gospel text tells the story this way: “4:18 As Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. 4:19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.”
4:20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 4:21 As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 4:22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.”
What was it about Jesus that caused these first four to follow…without question? I wish I knew, but I do know well that the Spirit can and does move in ways that defy human logic. In the made for TV series ‘The Chosen’ this scene is wonderfully portrayed. With a look and a knowing, Jesus calls these two sets of brothers into an adventure that will change their lives forever. And set an example for all who follow still. I do know what it is like to one day be fishing (or preparing to attend master planning school in Ontario) and the next moment enrolling at the Atlantic School of Theology on the path to becoming a minister.
In the story, Zebedee seems to be the bewildered father standing stunned on the shore as his sons vanish following this rogue preacher. But again the Chosen does a delightful portrayal of this scene. James and John look at their father with a question, Zebedee responds ‘the man we have been praying for to arrive for thousands of years calls you to follow, and you worry what I will tell your Emma when you are late for supper!’ Go follow Jesus.
As this story seeps into our souls, it might be time to remember what it was about Jesus that was so compelling that we decided to follow. The answers are many and varied. I had to go to church and never stopped. A miraculous cure and I believed. A person experience with the divine and I was curious…and so on. But the question on my mind is; today, what is it about Jesus, for you, that compels you to follow? More than a committee or a particular church, or music, or friends…what is it about Jesus today that compels you to be a follower of Jesus?
Simon, Andrew, James and John, the first called on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, were by no means perfect. I expect their family and friends would attest to that. We in our day are not perfect and now is not the time to make a list. What is vital is Jesus sees you, yes you. Jesus called you for reasons that you live out each day and will be revealed in good time. The church did not call you, nor did a priest or minister from days ago. Jesus call you…beautifully imperfect for the task of being followers. The traits Jesus looks for are for next week’s sermon. For today what you need know is that Jesus sees you and you have been chosen and called.