O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Based on Mark 1:14-20
Preached on January 18, 2015
Click on the Play button
to listen to the Sermon.
Fellow baptized saints, when you think of the ministry of Jesus, what do you picture? Do you imagine a super polite, gentle man with soft features walking around showing compassion to everyone He meets? Do you picture the softer, milder Jesus of Sunday School who would never offend anyone, never confront anyone, and never impose Himself upon someone else? Well then get ready for this entire year in our series B lectionary (hold it up) as we follow Him through the Gospel of Mark, because while Jesus certainly has compassion and love, Mark shows us He is here as God in the flesh, ready to start fights and take names of all the evil in His creation. He is here to do what God does – crush evil and protect His people – even from themselves. You are going to notice an urgency in the Gospel of Mark. A hard, angry, powerful Jesus that the people feared, that they didn't understand because He just had to keep being God – and this is what got Him killed.
In the Gospel of Mark Jesus is at conflict with everyone. He confronts His disciples, His family, the authorities - and He is going to confront you as well – confront you about truth and faith. But what you are going to see through all of this, is that you have a Jesus who fights for you, who loves you so much that He will let you crucify Him in order to defeat all of your enemies. That this aggressive Jesus is your champion, your God.
Check it out. Our text begins, "Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.""
King Herod had just arrested John for preaching this message in Galilee. And where does Jesus start preaching? In Galilee. On Herod's turf, right in Herod's face. Jesus has intentionally confronted this king who has wrongfully arrested His prophet. He is preaching a new kingdom with a new king, one that is fulfilled even as He proclaims it.
But what is this gospel of God? What is this kingdom Christ proclaims? The answer is certainly not what Herod expects. It is not even what the people expect. For this kingdom is not one of political power. It is not about armies and borders. This is God's kingdom. It is God ruling over hearts and minds by faith in Christ. It is one of repentance and faith in the Good News of Jesus.
The time has come, Jesus declares. God has fulfilled all His promises to you. And their fulfillment is Me. I am here now. Your Messiah has come. Your forgiveness is here. Your new life in God is here. Turn from yourselves and take hold of Me. Repent of the old and enjoy my kind rule, for I have come with grace and mercy, to take care of your hearts and minds as your righteous King.
All that we prepared for in Advent, all that we waited for with John is now here. Jesus comes busting into Galilee, as the fulfillment of all that John preached. You do not rule my prophet Herod, He is mine. Though you take his head from his shoulders, I will raise him on the Last Day. He is part of my kingdom.
Now if that were the only aggressive thing Jesus did in our text we might not see a pattern, but the very next sentence describes Jesus calling His disciples and already we have Jesus going against the grain again. He was passing alongside the Sea of Galilee when He saw some fishermen casting a net into the sea. And He said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." You see, the thing is, rabbis don't choose their students. Students choose their rabbi, their teacher, the one they want to learn from. The choice belongs to the student, not the teacher. But not with Jesus. Not in His kingdom. In His kingdom of hearts and minds, He is the One who chooses His disciples. He is the One who calls those who otherwise would not follow Him, people like you and me, who if it weren't for the gracious call of His Gospel, if it weren't for His deliberate pursuit of us with His Word, we would never find God. But you are chosen. He has selected you with His Word, washed YOU in His baptism, preached YOU the gospel of God, because He wants you to follow Him.
Jesus is not here to make friends. He is here to save mankind. To fish us up out of the sea of this world. To pluck us out of the devil's kingdom with His Gospel net. For this world is our enemy, and the devil is its ruler. Only by the powerful net of God's Word are we saved from its dying. So Christ chose fishermen to be His first disciples to show how He would build His kingdom. He chose fishermen that would drag others out of this world with the net of His Gospel – through the preaching of the Word of Christ. Follow me, and I will make you a preacher of grace. A proclaimer of my free love and mercy which I have brought to save my people. Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Immediately, they left their nets. Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute! Immediately? Like right away? What - had Jesus given them an ultimatum or something? Was this there only chance to think it through? The text tells us James and John had a lucrative business, for they had employees of their own whom they left with the boats. These fishermen had what would have been seen as a secure future, yet there is an urgency in the call of Christ – an urgency that leads them to leave their worldly security to follow Him – an urgency of Word – an urgency of hearing and preaching His eternal kingdom. Jesus is going on a rampage of faith and salvation, and if they want to be a part of it, they had better come along now.
By this point you may be wondering, how do I fit into this message? I do not have a call to preach publicly like the apostles. No, you don't, but what you do have, as with all Christians, is the call to share the faith with those you know. A call to "preach privately." To speak the good news of who Jesus is and what He has done to those in your life, whether they are Christian or not. You are called to confess that Jesus is the fulfillment of God's promises - that the time has come. The Messiah is here, and forgiveness and a new life are free in Him.
And no, you don't have to drop your job to follow Jesus. But you are called to drop your idols, your trust in the work of your hands and the security net you might make for yourself. You are called to drop the things this world runs after, the pursuit of riches, the building of your own kingdom. You are called to sacrifice these things for the kingdom of God. Called to use your time, your money, your energy for the building of His kingdom. You have a king and you live in a kingdom under Him, and He calls you to serve Him in the places He has placed you – precisely in your job and in your home and in your community. The people you see everyday need Jesus. They need to hear His Word of grace. They need to hear of His freely given righteousness. And Christ intends to use you to draw them into His kingdom. To bring them to Him here, to His preached Word, to His Sacraments.
Is it urgent? Yes. Is it going to bring conflict? Yes, at times it will. But you know this already. This is what you are afraid of, which is why when you hear about Jesus coming in to take on the bullies you are given great comfort. When you hear that Jesus is confrontational, it makes you glad. When you hear that Jesus isn't a pushover, but that He is your champion, your fighter, stretching out His arms to shield you even from death, you want to curl up underneath Him, your Rock and your King! For with Him you are safe.
Christ is the fulfillment of all God's promises. He is the good news of your salvation. Repent and believe in the gospel. In His Holy Name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr