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1-21-18 Sermon

January 21, 2018 Third Sunday after Epiphany                                                                                                                                                                    

Mark 1:14-20                                                                                                                                                   

There are some things so important that they need action NOW.                                                    

A heavy rain had just stopped when a truck driver rounded a curve, and saw a man surveying the ruins of his barn. The driver stopped and asked what had happened.                                               

“Roof fell in,” said the farmer. “Leaked so long it finally just rotted through.”                                    

“Why in the world didn’t you fix it before it got that bad?” asked the stranger.                                

Well, replied the farmer, “it just seemed I never did get around to it. When the weather was good, there was no need to fix it, and when it rained, it was too wet to work on!”                                           

Homeowners know about timely home maintenance. But that’s true in all of life: In the things that really matter, there is an urgent need to act. Consider today’s Gospel.  Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, when he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Mark says, “AT ONCE they left their nets and followed him.” Notice it doesn’t say they pondered his invitation.                                  

“When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. WITHOUT DELAY,” says Mark, “he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.”

It always has amazed me that these four disciples of Jesus’ responded without any hesitation. Jesus asked them to leave their livelihood, families, their community for an unknown adventure --and immediately they followed him. That says a lot about how Jesus came across to people; but it also says much about the people themselves.

But most importantly, it directly relates to the task he had called them to do.                     

Mark shows us a Jesus with a sense of urgency. Mark uses the word “immediately” 40 times in the 16 chapters.   Jesus   isn’t looking for procrastinators.  Jesus expresses that same sense of urgency in Luke’s Gospel calling another man:  “Follow me,” Jesus said. But this man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”   

Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”     

Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”             

Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:59-62). Jesus’ call is one of urgency.       

But we all know in life, the really important things require us to respond without delay.

How urgent it is that we demonstrate our affection for those we love?               

Parents will often wish they’d spent more time with their children.  Children grow up oh so quickly. Time takes its toll. There are some people we treasure today who might not be with us tomorrow or next week or next year.  There is urgency about the really important things in life.             

A very bashful young man who was hesitant about demonstrating his affection for his sweetheart, said, “Oh, I wish I were an octopus, so that I might wrap all 8 arms around you.”    

His impatient sweetheart replied, “Don’t worry about having 8 arms. Just make better use of the 2 arms you already have.”

There is also an even greater urgency about altering a lifestyle. We all know tragic stories of drug abuse.  Citizens by the thousands are having their lives destroyed by this modern plague. There comes a time when fighting a destructive habit or a debilitating weakness you must say, “I must stop now or it will be too late.”        

We all know a man who waited too long. His name was Judas. I wonder if Judas ever considered the outcome of his actions?                               

Had Jesus said something that hurt or offended him? That happens in congregations.                     

Did the other disciples reject Judas?                                                                                                          

Was Judas jealous of the disciples closest to Jesus--Peter, James and John?                                            

When Judas said, “I have betrayed innocent blood,” he knew he’d gone too far.      It must be an awful thing to wake up and realize it’s too late to save your marriage--too late when you’re addicted--too late, you’ve been caught, you’ve brought disgrace to your family and friends--too late, you caused a tragic accident.   There is urgency about changing the way you are living.  Many people put off making necessary changes in their lives and tomorrow never comes. Important things should never be put off.

Of course putting off a relationship with Jesus is the most serious procrastination of all. I can’t find anywhere in the New Testament where Jesus told anyone to “go home, think it over, and get back to me tomorrow.”   Jesus comes to Simon and Andrew and James and John at their fishing boats beside the Sea of Galilee and says to them, “Follow me,” and immediately they followed him. Jesus’ invitation is always an invitation to do it now!                                                                                                                                    

We should never put off telling people we love them.                                                                            

We should never put off correcting a destructive lifestyle.                                                                   

But of the utmost importance is saying “Yes” to God.