Who? Me?

This is my radio devotion for Tuesday, August 25, 2020, aired on KBBN/KCNI, who graciously airs devotions from the pastors of the Custer County Ministerial Association.

Could you use a little good news today?

Good morning, I’m Pastor Matt Fowler of Broken Bow United Methodist Church. This week, I’m turning to the Gospel of Mark to hear and share some good news, because my spirit needs it. Maybe yours does too. Incidentally, I’ve also be preaching on Mark for the past few weeks if you want check out BBUMC.org.

Think back to your childhood, when we’d play games on the playground or school yard. Think especially about the times we played a team game. We’d pick captains, and then the captains would pick their teammates. Were you one of the first chosen? Were you one of the last? No matter when you were picked, how did that feel?

If you’re at all familiar with the gospels, then you’re likely familiar with today’s scene from Mark 1:16-20: As Jesus passed alongside the Galilee Sea, he saw two brothers, Simon and Andrew, throwing fishing nets into the sea, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” he said, “and I’ll show you how to fish for people.” Right away, they left their nets and followed him. After going a little farther, he saw James and John, Zebedee’s sons, in their boat repairing the fishing nets. At that very moment he called them. They followed him, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired workers.

Have you ever wondered, as I have, why Simon and Andrew, and James and John, left their nets and boats and followed Jesus? I mean, this wasn’t just a hobby fishing day. Jesus called these men in the middle of their work days, and they dropped their work, bosses, and partners, and left with Jesus. Can you imagine doing that to your co-workers or bosses today? I sure can’t. But that’s what they did.

If we think back about our playground team-picking, perhaps we’ll get a sense of why they followed Jesus. In First Century Israel, rabbis typically did their rabbi-teaching thing in and around the synagogue. Parents would bring their kids to them to be taught the Jewish scriptures and how to interpret them – the Bible of their day. And as students progressed, or didn’t, the rabbi would sort the students, keeping the best and brightest to keep studying, and sending the others to go learn a trade.

Now, Jesus called these men from their trades. That means they’d already been determined to be, precisely, not the best of the best. They were fine, but they didn’t have what it took to follow a rabbi. But Jesus, in an uncharacteristic move for a rabbi, goes out around town calling people to follow him, to learn from him, to be like him. And he called those who’d already been passed over.

In this, it’s like playground team-picking. Jesus went around the playground calling people who had already been passed over. He sought out people. “You on the swings, I want you to play on my team,” Jesus was essentially saying.

For us, Jesus calling disciples like this is good news. It shows that following Jesus, growing and learning to be like him, isn’t dependent on how good we are, how intelligent we are, or how others see us. Jesus calls normal, everyday people, from the midst of their lives to follow him. And if Jesus called them, then Jesus most certainly also calls us. The challenge for us is, will we have the courage to leave behind something that’s important, so that Jesus can lead us?

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