The flashback is a story telling technique that takes the narrative back in time. The purpose of this is to inform the audience of an important piece of information that exists. Something crucial to understanding the story as a whole.
In some movies we start with an event and then flashback to understand how we arrived there. One of my favourite movies that uses this technique is the crime thriller the Usual Suspects. The movie revolves around determining who is Keyser Soze. As the movie draws towards its conclusion we move past the events that we watched in the beginning and we move towards the dramatic ending.
While Mark’s gospel account is not a flashback, it does end where it begins. Jesus starts his ministry when he came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, saying “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
Fishing – Audio Sermon
If that sounds familiar to you it should, because we have just heard John the Baptist preaching the same message. John the Baptist who in the first verse of our passage we read today we learn has been arrested. Jesus picks up the ministry of repentance that John had started. A ministry that he started to prepare people for the coming of the Messiah.
Jesus starts his ministry in the shadow of the arrest of the one who would pave the way. John was the voice in the wilderness, the one whom Isaiah said would prepare the way for Jesus to come.
Now we all know what happens to John. Herod has him beheaded. It’s a story that we will take a deeper look at another time. But consider this, John preached a message of repentance. Herod didn’t like that message and had John arrested. While he was arrested John was killed.
Then Jesus comes along and continues to preach a message of repentance. We all know how Jesus’ story goes. So ask yourself this, why would you follow Jesus if you knew that the guy who was preaching the same thing before him was arrested? And why would you, sitting here today, follow Jesus knowing that Jesus was also arrested and executed.
Now the easy answer that we can give today is that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah. We have our faith in God and scriptural witness which attests to why we believe what we do. We know why we follow Christ.
But why did Simon and Andrew, James and John follow Jesus?
All we are told is that Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” That’s it. Follow me and you can fish for people!
It is a little ridiculous when you think about it. Give up your job, the means by which you make a living and follow me. Jesus does a really bad job at pitching this. He just says follow me.
Most job offers that try to lure people in promise riches, quick promotions and living life in the fast lane! Don’t believe me, do a quick search on ‘get rich quick schemes’. Of course that’s the rub isn’t it? Jesus doesn’t promise riches, in fact other than fishing for people, Jesus doesn’t promise these guys anything at all.
Now, I am going to state a disclaimer: I don’t fish.
Logan is very disappointed about this as he wants to learn and given he received a fishing pole for Christmas it seems I may need to learn.
However, as it stands right now I do not fish.
I don’t have the patience for it.
Plus it’s dirty, stinky work.
Think about it for a moment. When you fish what do you think of? Two old friends sitting in a boat during the early hours of the morning enjoying the quiet of the day.
But what happens when you catch a fish?
You need to reel it in, you need to fight the fish and pull it out of its natural environment. Then you need to remove the hook. Eventually, you need to clean the fish and get it ready for cooking. Dirty, messy work.
For some it is a joyful experience, I am just not one of those people.
However, if this is what it means to fish, then what does it mean to fish for people?
What does it mean to proclaim that the kingdom is at hand, to encourage people to believe in the good news. In short how do we fish for people?
What is our lure?
How long are we willing to be patient before that lure sees its first nibble?
Are we willing to fight as we draw in the line? Are we willing to adjust our tactics as we draw bring the catch in?
And once we’ve brought the catch in, what then?
What do we do with our new disciples? How do we approach formation of faith? How do we prepare them to participate in the next fishing expedition?
All questions which are essential to knowing how we are called into God’s service. The Session is actively working on discerning how we can do just these things within Cobourg and beyond. Not because we are not currently doing them, but because we want to continue to grow and share the good news we have in Jesus Christ. Soon, we will be seeking your input into how we can grow as a community of faith and share the good news within the larger community.
The message that we proclaim is no different than the one that John and Jesus proclaimed. Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand. Which is to say, turn to God. Trust in the one who created you, who loves you and who wants you to join him in eternity.
People need to know this message. They need to know that the kingdom is real and that it is available to them. They need to see the possibilities that exist within God’s kingdom. The truth is that people are looking for meaning, they are looking for joy, they are looking to be saved in the wrong places. We live in a society that is infatuated by distractions. Every year we have a new list of the hottest or the best new products and people who can make us complete. We settle for the latest reality TV show and the distractions of a celebrity crazed media. People believe this entertainment can save us, that it can tune out a dark world that people find frightening. This is the world that we are trying to bring Christ’s message to. A world that needs to hear the message, but which is too afraid to trust and believe that this message could ever be for them. C.S. Lewis once wrote that we are far too easily satisfied.
Friends we live in a world which is far too easily distracted. A world where no one is really willing to stick their neck out for anything. Once something become unpopular, too political, financially risky or an endangerment to our own health we are out.
Friends, I wonder if Simon and Andrew, James and John, I wonder if they knew that John had been arrested. Scripture doesn’t tell us. I wonder if they knew at that point in time what they were signing up for.
Certainly Jesus knew and we certainly know. We know the whole story and we can follow it when scripture ends right down to this moment right here, right now in St. Andrew’s. We can trace the history of this congregation, the history of the church and we know how we got here. We know the story.
We know the story and we are still sitting right here. We know that John was arrested and beheaded. We know that Jesus was arrested and crucified.
We know the cost of following Jesus. We have read these stories we know how it ends. Mark’s whole gospel unfolds under the shadow of John’s arrest, a foreshadowing of sorts for what would happen to Jesus. We know all these things.
We also know that Jesus rose from the dead, shattering the power of death over this world and restoring us into right relationship with God. We know the promise that is realized in Jesus Christ.
We know that the kingdom of God is at hand. We know the joy that comes in living our lives for God. We know this is true and we are called to share our joy, our knowledge with others.
We do this because we have seen the end. All that we have known, all that we are doing is a flashback for an ending that we have already seen. Jesus began his ministry in Galilee and at the end of Mark’s gospel we are told that after rising from the dead Jesus went ahead of the disciples. That he was waiting for them in Galilee, waiting for them at the beginning of all things.
We live secure in the knowledge of how the story ends. Our job is to share that story.
So who would like to join me for a fishing trip? Amen.
Text: Mark 1: 14-20