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About Fish and Fishers

Pastor Asafa Rajaofera

About Fish and Fishers

Religion
5 mins
January 25, 2021

Last week, we mentioned God knows each of us by name and knows each of us to the very core of our being. No matter where we are in the stages of our life whether old, young, or a baby, God has a calling and a purpose for us. We just need to be attuned to His voice, be obedient, and follow.

Jonah

Our text this morning pertains to that. We know the story of Jonah. God called him to deliver a message of repentance to the city of Nineveh. Was he obedient? Not at first. As a consequence to his disobedience, he ended up in the belly of a big fish for three nights. God gave him another chance and this time he obeyed. 

And then there are the people of Nineveh. I don’t know what it is about Jonah’s preaching but he just walked around the city of Nineveh for three days saying “forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” and the population repented. A simple message! No introduction, no argument, no explanation, no conclusion, just a clear proclamation. It was enough to convict the population of Nineveh to repent. Again, I don’t know what it is about that message or the way he conveyed it but as a result, not one, or two or ten but more than 120 thousand persons believed God.

They proclaimed a fast and put on mourning clothes, from the greatest of them to the least significant. When word of it reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, stripped himself of his robe, covered himself with mourning clothes, and sat in ashes. Then he announced, “In Nineveh, by decree of the king and his officials: Neither human nor animal, cattle nor flock, will taste anything! No grazing and no drinking water! Let humans and animals alike put on mourning clothes and let them call upon God forcefully! And let all persons stop their evil behavior and the violence that’s under their control!” He thought, Who knows? God may see this and turn from his wrath, so that we might not perish.”

That’s how powerful the word of God is! “It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it,” says the Lord. “forty days more, and the Nineveh will be overthrown” was the word of God. Nineveh needed to repent of their sins. Upon hearing the word of God, just like that, they repented. The whole population.

Fishing for People

Next, we have the Gospel reading from Mark:

“As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—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. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.”

The details are few, which means there’s a lot more we don’t know than we do. We do know that as Jesus passes along the Sea of Galilee he calls out to several fishermen and bids them follow and without any other prompting, they do. Again, we don’t have any details so we don’t know what might have prompted their decision. Maybe they didn’t really like fishing and were eager to try something different. Maybe they already know something about Jesus, have heard him preach, teach, and were already considering joining him. 

A Compelling Message

What we do know is that there was something compelling enough about Jesus and his message that prompted these four, and later many others, to follow him, to become his disciples.

In both texts, Jonah and Mark, we notice that when God calls whether through the word or through Jesus, the response is that of immediacy. Jonah preached and the people immediately called a fast. Jesus walks by the Sea of Galilee, calls the four disciples, and immediately they left their fishing business to follow Jesus.

Here's a Question for You

The question for us this day is: what would make you drop everything and pursue an entirely new life? Is it a job offer? A marriage proposal? A chance to make a huge difference in another part of the world? What would prompt you to take off from everything you know for something entirely different? These disciples just dropped their fishing business and left everything they’re used to, to follow Jesus into the unknown with no salary, no health plan, no pension.

What would make us do that? Could it be epiphany? We say someone had an epiphany when they had an immediate and meaningful understanding of something. It’s sudden, Profound. ‘a-hah’ moment. When Jonah preached that simple message “forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown” the population must have had an epiphany and repented. When Jesus called the disciples and they immediately left everything behind and followed him, they must have had an epiphany. Epiphany demands immediacy. It calls for urgency. So maybe we are called, perhaps not so much to follow, but to take that “immediately” seriously. Jesus happens. On the shores of the Sea of Galilee. At the grocery store. At work. And so forth. Jesus happens. No time to think. No invitation to take your time. That’s epiphany. It’s untamable and unpredictable. Unexpected and even undeserved.

Reminders

Maybe these stories are a reminder for us that we shouldn’t get too far into epiphany and get comfortable. There’s nothing comfortable about epiphanies. They rock your world.

We could spend a lot of time speculating why the disciples followed Jesus. Or why the whole population of Nineveh repented. But does it matter? We just know that it happened. In other words, maybe we tend to overthink epiphany. Overanalyze the how. Overthink the what. Epiphanies just happen. What will you do? It demands an immediate response. No invitation for contemplation or reflection but instantaneous commitment and risk. 

What are you called to leave behind as you follow Jesus this week? An abusive relationship? A bad habit? An environment? Follow me Jesus says. Do we sense the urgency of that call that requires an immediate response or do we still analyze, question, overthink it all. Jesus says follow me. When we do respond to the call, when we are obedient to the call, our lives are forever changed.


This article was orginally reported by
Pastor Asafa Rajaofera

Rev. Asafa Rajaofero was born in Madagascar and serves as pastor of the United Church of Christ parishes in Greenwood and Owen, Wisconsin.

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