19 January 2019 Going Fishing Martin Baker
Jesus Begins His Ministry in Galilee
12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
15 “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned.”
17 From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
18 As he 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. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 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. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this but there are quite a few stories in the Gospel to do with fishing. The call of those first disciples on the sea of Galilee. Simon Andrew James John all fishing. And in fact the Gospel of John finishes with a fishing story. Jesus is there on the shore and calls to his disciples who have gone back to doing what they know after the chaos of the crucifixion.
He calls to them and they finally recognise who it is and they share some breakfast together.
They are just getting on with what they know, what they are always done, and Jesus appears and calls them out of the patterning and ordering of their lives.
18 As he 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. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.”
Can you imagine how inconvenient that was?
How many people here do pretty much the same thing every morning? One cup of tea, two. I’ve got a friend who has had the same breakfast now for over 30 years. He takes it with him when he travels. .
So right at the start today we come across a first big hurdle.
Whether it’s just what we have always done, whether it is destructive or bad behaviours, or very dull or repetitive.
We all have patterns of living which provide us with our sense of order and security and which we are probably very hesitant to change. Even when we can agree that they’re not particularly good patterns. There is something in many of us which just craves that maintenance of order.
So right at the beginning of our Gospel story we face this hurdle which may be almost insurmountable for us. He’s walking by the sea of Galilee and he sees two brothers who were fishing and he says follow me. And I will make you fish for people. Immediately they gave up their nets and followed him.
It is only January. Start of the new year. But here right at the start of the whole Gospel story. This disruption . A message that begins with a call about reordering of life.
At perhaps this call by Jesus sets the plan for what is going to happen. The Gospel is about getting involved in something messy. Things that are disruptive. People that are disruptive. Tax collectors, prostitutes, hypocrites, lepers and death.
When I go fishing I’m never quite sure what going to happen. The truth is that most of time nothing very much happens. But other things happen. One of the things that fill me with a practically high degree of self-loathing is when I occasionally do catch a good sized fish. And it’s obviously not wanting to just hop into the kayak. And last week there it was. A good sized snapper. And I had my net and I thought no it’ll be all right, I’ll just grab it when it comes close. But just at that second just when I had started imaging returning home in triumph, one of my knots break and the fish gets away.
And all you are left with is the little pit of braid blowing about in the breeze.
And for me the worst thing is that because I fish by myself in little kayaks even though I look around there is no one to blame but myself.
And the even more horrifying thing is that I have made this mistake before.
You go to the meat or fish section at the supermarket and you realise that even the most basics functions in life - the processes involved in bringing us food have become so distant. How many children actually contemplate where the two meat patties in a big mac come from. And it’s not even polite to talk about it is it.
So we come here this morning. And people seeing us would have their own thoughts. But every one of us has had that experience, that person, that event that has called us out of the world in which we had been living. We are all part of this great fishing story. Even though we have all made mistakes. Even though we all have our doubts.
One of the good things about going way on holiday is that it is disruptive, it allows us time to reflect on the routines . And maybe today with Jesus disciples, we ask the question about what it means to hear Christ’s call in the middle of our treasures routines.
Who are the people who Jesus calls first. There are people who work on the land. People who fish. People who we would view as part of a primitive agrarian community. People used to the sights and sounds and smells of all that would be involved. He is part of that, Jesus. And in the midst of this he says follow me.
I wonder about my own faith and beliefs and whether those values of convenience and immediacy and safety and order have not permeated in some very deep way into our beliefs system.
I get a sense too about why Jesus’s first disciples were fishing people. They are people who can hope about outcomes but never know for sure. They always know that there is something more to learn, they will be keen observers of their environment, they will act outside the routine and order to take advantage of new opportunities. They have been people who have made mistakes, they might even be people who are good at telling stories. And now they will enter a new story.
We join in worship and hear the stories of the great fishing trips. And we celebrate and give praise and thanks. But the stories, the worship, the celebration faces it’s ultimate test in the encouragement it provides for us to hear that call. I’ts orderly and clean and comfortable in the fishing lodge. But Jesus is saying follow me. I will make you fishers of people. Follow me he says.
Walter Bruggerman reminds us that church growth is the end of a dramatic process. Evangelism he reminds us is never aimed at building up institutions. It is aimed simply and solely at summoning people to what he called a new liberated obedience to the true governor of all created reality
Fishing stories are almost always popular stories. A couple of young kids caught a snapper last week off a Dunedin wharf. The story gets global media interest – these fish are almost never caught that far south. The ocean has until now been too cold for them.
The power of stories. When we talk about the things that excite us. You know I think Great Barrier is a wonderful place, and I guess I would have encouraged 10 maybe 20 people to have visited the island in the last two years.
I can rave on about it for ages.
And if you came to me during the week. and said ‘look this is amazing’ I've really just got to tell you about something, or I've really got something important to show. I'd be interested in what our had to say. Simply because of your interest your enthusiasm your passion. I would want to know.
The gospel is telling us about this amazing new story. A new call on our lives. A reordering. Living in a way that creates in us a new sense of purpose, captivating transforming. Immediately they left their nets and followed him. Maybe our fondness for order reflects the fact that we haven’t allowed outlives to be surprised or engaged or excited about what is possible. There is something here for us but our fear, our insecurity too has excluded the possibility of a different future. Christ is speaking to us. Our tidy ordered lives. In 2020 people are going to hear so many words. But lets make sure they hear the one of invitation. Words that are about a new call.
Follow me Jesus says. Follow me. AMEN
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