Sermon, The Third Sunday after the Epiphany, January 24, 2021

Jonah 3:1-5, 10;    Psalm 62:6-14;     1Corinthians 7:23120;   Mark 1:14-20

Yesterday, the province of Manitoba eased up some of the restrictions regarding COVID-19 protocols. What a relief, particularly for people who are living alone and families that have been isolated form their relatives. I pray that God heals the world, our nations and area of this pandemic. Please continue observing the rules and regulations we have in place to avoid spread of the virus.

In the Gospel this morning, Jesus had returned from the wilderness to enter public ministry in the region of Galilee. The text gives Jesus’ theme for his preaching during his Galilean ministry and the entire story of his ministry which is the fulfillment and the coming of the kingdom of God. Jesus came first, to Galilee to proclaim the good news of God.

Jesus preached “the gospel of God” with emphasis on the kingdom of God as fulfillment of God’s prophesy and promise. Jesus’ preaching was symmetrically structured to contain an announcement and an appeal. The “announcement” was that, the time for change of life is fulfilled and no one had to wait any longer. The Messiah who was promised is here, and with him is the kingdom of God because he himself is the manifestation of this kingdom.

The coming of Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s salvation plan. The time for John as prophet is over, the time of Jesus the Christ, who is God’s fulfillment has come and this is the turning point in Jesus’ preaching. His hearers need to make a decision because there is nothing else to wait for.

The second part of Jesus’ preaching was “the appeal” to all who would hear to repent and believe in the gospel. Jesus’ reiterates John the Baptist’s message to all who came to be baptized by him. According to Calvin, repentance is changing of our lives for the better, and as a conversion and newness of life (Harmony 1, 145). Jesus invites his listeners to leave behind all things which would interrupt their attention from the awareness of the presence of the kingdom of God.

Jesus knew that the time had come for more people to hear the good news of God and proceeded to call people to become his disciples. He ordered them to join in fishing for people.

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake-for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him. (Mark 1:14-18)

What fascinates me is, Jesus called Simon and Andrew, the two brothers, and later called James and John who followed him immediately. Since then, all who are called by Jesus have an obligation to make disciples of Jesus from where they live, work and play.

Jesus promised to turn the four fishermen into fishers of people. Jesus was in a sense asking all his followers/disciples from all walks of life to use their spiritual gifts to bring others into the kingdom of God. You are already equipped for the job of making disciples, just as the fishermen were. Use what you have and make disciples in the kingdom of God so that all will experience peace, justice, love. May you be blessed as you respond to God’s call. Amen.