It sure is an interesting time to talk about Authority.
We had an Inauguration Day this past week.
Joseph Biden Jr. was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States.
Like it or not…
He now has authority.
Authority to issue executive orders.
Authority to veto legislation.
Authority to enter nuclear launch codes.
For some people this is exciting.
For others it isn’t.
There has been a change in Authority for the United States of America.
But this sermon series is not talking about that authority.
It isn’t talking about an authority that changes.
It’s not an authority that lasts for four, maybe eight years; but one that lasts forever.
Not an authority that governs only the within state lines; but one that governs the outer rims of our galaxy.
Not an authority that resides in an oval office; but one that resides in heaven.
Over the next weeks we will dig into God’s authority – specifically – in Jesus. But before we dig in, a prayer: O Lord, strengthen us by the truth. Your Word is the truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see; open our ears to hear what you want us to hear; and open our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. The Story
Today’s lesson is from Mark 1:14-15.
After John was put in prison, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. “The time is fulfilled,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near! Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mk. 1:14-15)
This is the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. He wasn’t yet very well known.
Prior to this, John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, had a successful ministry. He had been preaching in the wilderness about God’s kingdom, calling people to repentance, and gathering crowds of people around him.
Which is what got him put in prison.
King Herod, the official authority for the Jewish people, had met John.
He had liked John.
But when Herod had his brother put to death because he wanted to sleep with his sister-in-law,
and John the Baptist called that an abuse of authority,
and also mentioned that he would have to mention to God’s authority for it...
Herod put him in prison.
To shut him up.
Suddenly, there were crowds of people who had been following John the Baptist without a leader, wondering when this kingdom of God that John had been talking about might come…
The kingdom of God came.
Down the road.
As Jesus was going along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen. (v.16)
Jesus arrived on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. This 64-square-mile lake was a bustling commercial center for anglers. Delicious fish like the Tillapia Galillea, the Barbel carp and Kinneseret sardines (which taste delicious picked and on a sandwich) drew towns to crop up around the shores. There, fishermen built docks and made their way into the lake on a daily basis hoping to catch enough fish for their family to survive.
On this particular day, a longtime fisherman named Peter was on his dock. He sat on an overturned bucket as he worked to repair the portions of their linen fishing net that had been snagged on the rocks yesterday.
He slugged his coffee.
And spit it out.
Hey bro! I thought I told you to keep your coffee close to you!
His brother, Andrew, answered with a large rope of his shoulder: How do you know it’s mine?
It’s got cream in it. I’m Peter. I drink mine bold.
Andrew sighed as he set the rope into the boat.
Yours is in the boat. See it? You better get in and get it anyways so we can get out to sea. It’s been a rough couple of days, and we haven’t had much to sell to the merchants.
I know. It’s those bloody Romans. Their taxes take such a cut of our profits. It’s why I was up late at the local pub. I was trying to double my money in Blackjack.
Peter leaned in real close: And I think I will. I figured out a trick. Can you spot me a few dollars for tonight?
Andrew’s crunched his nose: You did stay out late. Your breath smells like an old Hebrew Light! Tell you what. I’ll spot you a couple hundred fish and I’ll spot you a couple dollars.
At that moment, their ears perked up.
They could hear someone approaching from the distance.
At first, Peter thought it might be one of the other fishermen come to make fun of him or maybe Hezekiah, their fishing companion from up the road come to borrow the pliers.
But this man was neither a fisherman.
Nor was he in need of pliers.
And he certainly didn’t dance around the point.
Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (v.17)
Peter and Andrew looked up.
They knew this man.
A couple of months back Andrew had ventured out to listen to John the Baptist. Not that he normally did such things, but that he thought John might have the answers to get his life back on course. (Plus, he could check out the fishing in the Jordan River).
But on this particular day, he remembered seeing John and this stranger.
John had pointed at him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World.” (John 1:29)
Andrew was familiar with lambs.
They all were.
Lambs were the sacrifice that their religion demanded to take away their sins.
And Andrew had plenty of sins.
Andrew ran to get his brother…
Could he be…
Might he be…
The one that his mom told him about when they were younger.
The one that would save them from their sins?
The one that would save them from this miserable life?
His brother humored him and met Jesus.
When Jesus saw him eye to eye, Jesus looked at him and said,
I will call you Peter.
You are a rock!
Peter had loved that.
A change in identity.
Maybe this Jesus could change his life.
And now was the chance to find out.
Peter looked at Andrew.
Andrew looked at him.
Immediately they left their nets and followed him. (v.18)
To be fair, they didn’t follow him very far before Jesus stopped near a rival fishing company.
If you could call it a rivalry.
This was Zebedee and Son’s fishery. Zebedee had been in the business his whole life. He had quite the operation. Not only did his sons work for him, but he had employees out with him casting nets and raking in fish.
His business was more well-known than Peter and Andrew’s.
It may be one of the reasons that Mark, the guy who wrote this, mentioned Zebedee in Scripture.
I imagine his fish were sold all over Galilee.
The little pickled sardines in a jar with his face plastered over it.
Currently, Zebedee was out in the boats with his sons and the servants.
They were more efficient than Peter and John having been at it all morning.
After all, when you’re a bigger business, you have bigger expectations from clients.
With bigger expectations, you need a bigger crew.
Zebedee knew that.
His sons knew that.
Jesus knew that.
He just had a different business in mind.
Immediately Jesus called them. They left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him. (v.20)
II. Authority Worth Following
Why does Peter leave his source of income?
Why does Andrew leave their gear?
Why do John and James leave their dad?
What made Jesus so an authority that was worth dropping everything they were doing to follow him?
(1) Jesus has Authority to Change YOUR IDENTITY
Because the sea’s the limit on the various ways that Peter had been identified prior to this:
Forever outside God’s kingdom.
That last one.
Because when people treat you that way long enough.
You start to believe it.
Jesus has authority to change all that.
Because he’s God!
There’s no one more believable!
He actually knows your true identity.
He actually knows all your sin.
He actually knows all your guilt.
All your shame.
All your struggles.
And he took that identity on as His!
He died for you.
He rose for you.
He calls you forgiven.
And a part of his kingdom!
Your identity in Jesus is citizen of God’s kingdom!
Which was the whole change for Peter!
Rather than keep him out of his kingdom, Jesus invited him to be an active part of it.
Implying that he wanted him in his kingdom.
God wanted Peter.
Peter, the fishermen!
Peter, the non-scholar.
Peter, without a high school degree!
Yes, that Peter.
Wants you too.
But it’s more than that…
(2) Jesus’ Authority Changes Your Purpose
Jesus told these fishermen – “I want you to be fishers of people.”
It always makes me think of some fishing pole with a hook on it.
But instead of having a worm or a minnow or a little rubber frog on it.
It’d have some money.
Or an iPhone.
Or a baby Yoda plushie.
Or spoilers for the next episode of WandaVision.
But that’s not what Jesus means.
He wants these disciples to help him share the Gospel.
To help him tell others about God’s love
To help him tell others about Jesus’ saving work.
To help him “catch” others for his kingdom.
That’s your purpose too.
Your purpose is to fish.
And children, for that matter.
Because right now, people need Jesus
They are sad.
Jesus cures all of these.
I’ll tell you this – If I didn’t have Jesus in this pandemic, it’s quite likely I’d be lying face-down in a gutter somehow this morning.
But because of Jesus, I have hope.
And because of Jesus, you have hope.
And that’s hope that other need.
And he has given you a new PURPOSE.
III. WHAT NOW?
(1) Follow Jesus!
If you haven’t followed him before, Jesus is calling for you to do so right now.
If you have followed him, but you lapsed over 2020…He’s calling you to do it again.
It’s as if he’s on the banks of the Sea of “Insert your street name here” and calling:
I will give you a new identity.
I will give you purpose.
You will work with me and serve in my kingdom.
And when you hear that follow him!
Fulfill your purpose.
Share the Gospel!
And this changes how you live your life.
Your main purpose isn’t…
… to become a millionaire.
… to have an HGTV-like home.
…to get a million followers on Instagram.
…to get everybody else to be in the same political party as you.
Your purpose it to fish for people.
By sharing Jesus’ hope.
(2) Drop the nets!
Did you notice what Peter did once he heard Jesus’ call?
He dropped his nets and left them behind.
John and James, did you see what they did?
They left their dad and left them behind.
There was nothing more important than following Jesus.
The same is true for you too.
Sometimes nets get in the way.
It may be actual fishing.
But it could be work.
It could be money.
It could be social media.
It could….just about anything.
Now’s your chance.
I’ve been seeing a lot of people go online and give their political thoughts lately.
I’m angry about this.
I’m angry about that.
I’m angry about this and that and if you aren’t; you can stop being my friend.
Political groups can be a kind of net.
We busy ourselves with trying to get everyone to think the same political thoughts we do.
Drop the political net.
Pick up the net of the Gospel.
What would it look like if we shared the Gospel as much as we shared our political thoughts?
Or if we shared the truth of our resurrected Savior as much as shared our conspiracy theories?
When you drop more Gospel nets, you catch more fish for God’s kingdom.
Which is what you want to do.
Because you are a fisher of people.
There’s one more word I want to take a look at.
It’s the adverb that appears right before the disciples’ reactions to Jesus.
It doesn’t say, “Later…they followed Jesus.”
or, “Later that week…they followed Jesus.”
Or even “after they cleaned everything up…they followed Jesus.”
Immediately, Peter and Andrew follow Jesus.
Immediately, John and James follow Jesus.
Immediately, God is calling you.
Immediately…will you follow?
I pray that you do. Amen.