James and John quickly leave their father with the nets and the boat; scripture offers no commentary on their father’s feelings. Mark’s sense of urgency in moving the story forward doesn’t allow the reader to dwell too long on family members. Action is always immediate. Even if Zebedee doesn’t understand Jesus’ meaning when he calls Zebedee’s sons to leave everything behind, Zebedee is there when Jesus sees some trait or characteristic in them that merits his invitation. Sitting in the boat mending nets after a long day’s work, Zebedee may hope he has prepared his sons well enough for life’s opportunities.
Jesus meets the two men where they are, both physically and vocationally. He comes to their setting. He does not seek out government officials or people who will elevate his status. He approaches fishermen who have spent their entire adult lives perfecting skills on the water. Nothing about their lifestyle is easy or predictable; perhaps that makes them ready for a life of discipleship. Jesus issues the call to discipleship not as a blind following but as a choice to use experiences, skills, and culture for God’s glory.
This is good news for us because God calls us to follow and learn in our varied vocations. Jesus calls us to transform our world by living in justice and compassion, using the skills we have developed and the language we know. Only then can we meet people where they are. Our experiences, stories, and culture shape us so that when we face a new challenge or calling, we can step forward with confidence—immediately.
Life-giving God, may we use everything we are to follow you. Thank you for the experiences that have shaped us; be with us as we grow in your grace. Amen.
Things are not always as they seem. To Jonah it appears that the people of Nineveh are beyond hope, so he runs away rather than going to preach to them. God has other plans; to Jonah’s surprise, the Ninevites turn to God. To our eyes, social standing and wealth may seem to divide people into different classes; but the psalmist declares that in God’s economy, all are equal and will be repaid the same. Paul echoes the theme of the temporary nature of all things in this life; they should not be our source of security. Jesus opens his ministry in Mark by proclaiming that God is breaking into history to overthrow what has been accepted as the way things are. Sometimes God’s perspective is not our perspective.
• Read Jonah 3:1-5, 10. When have you experienced God’s call to a task you would have preferred not to undertake? What happened? What did you learn about God?
• Read Psalm 62:5-12. When have you experienced God as refuge and fortress? How do you actively embody God’s hope and offer it to others?
• Read 1 Corinthians 7:29-31. How lightly do you hold your job, your relationships, your possessions, given the passing nature of the present age?
• Read Mark 1:14-20. When have you heard Jesus call to you to follow? How did you respond?
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