Sermon for Sunday 7th November – Nikki Firth

Sermon for Sunday 7th November 2021

Mark 1:14-20 and Hebrews 9:24-28

May I speak in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – Amen

Our Gospel reading marks the beginning of Jesus’s preaching ministry, John has been arrested and Jesus goes into Galilee – His message is clear and there are four parts to what He proclaims :

  1. The time has come
  2. The kingdom of God is at hand
  3. Repent
  4. Believe the Gospel

Firstly, Jesus proclaims that the time has come. The Greek word used here for time is Kairos-meaning significant time, the moment of truth, the decisive moment, a fork in the road that makes all the difference. A Kairos moment divides past from future and ushers us into a new kind of life.

Jesus says that the Kairos moment is here, the decisive moment has arrived, God’s reign is at hand.  Heads up!  Pay attention! Don’t miss this one, your life is at stake!

Secondly, the kingdom of God is at hand. God’s kingdom is not so much geographical, but His kingship is His sovereign rule over the hearts of all people.

Next, Jesus urges His listeners to repent and believe.

The Cambridge dictionary definition of the word repent says: To be very sorry for something you have done in the past and wish you had not done it. Having this modern day understanding of the word, can sometimes cause us to look inwards and maybe wallow in self-loathing and regret – this is NOT what Jesus calls us to.

Repentance is a change of mind or direction, seeing things from a different perspective. Once we see things rightly, we probably will feel bad about having been wrong for so long, we are of course only human, but true repentance starts with new vision, rather than guilty feelings. Repentance is a Kairos moment!

So here in verse 16 Andrew and his brother Simon find themselves fishing, on probably not quite a normal day. John the Baptist has been arrested and this marks a significant change in their circumstances. If we turn to chapter 1 of Johns Gospel, we see that Andrew was one of two disciples of John the Baptist, who were with him when Jesus passed by, when John declared “behold the lamb of God”, revealing the true identity of Jesus. We read how both of John’s disciples then followed Jesus and how Andrew told his brother Simon Peter what had happened and took him to see Jesus.

Jewish Rabbi’s disciples would choose their teacher, according to their knowledge of the Torah. Here we see Jesus turn everything upside down and He invites the disciples to follow Him, He offers them a new way of living – a Kairos moment

 Even though they knew who Jesus was, it always baffles me how when He invites them, we see no evidence of questions being asked, no worrying about the how’s and the whys, they simply put down what they are holding and follow. We see the same thing when Jesus comes to John and Zebedee, He called them and immediately the sense of urgency is clear, they leave everything behind and follow. I am not certain that if that had been me there fishing, I would have been quite as obedient!

These disciples were responding to the fourth part of what Jesus proclaimed, they knew what they had seen and heard, and they believed.

Just imagine that I am very rich, and I wrote a cheque for one million pound giving it to you as a gift. I am sure that would be good news, but simply receiving the cheque would not make a difference, you would need to believe and do something with it in order for it to change your life, you would need to pay it into your bank for that money to be accessible and make a difference.

Belief is not an easy thing to describe to others, often we need our own experiences or evidence before we can truly believe.

Belief makes it possible for people to live confidently in the midst of difficulty.

Belief makes it possible to keep moving forward towards seemingly impossible goals and belief makes it possible to step up out of the darkness, certain that God will give us a sure footing.

The £1 million pound cheque is just imagined, but the Good news of God is real but simply hearing it will not make a difference, we have to be moved to action and actually do something with it for real change to happen.

The letter to the Hebrews was probably written to a fairly intelligent group of Jewish believers, who by now should have been maturing in their Christian faith, knowing the Good News and what this meant to them, they were holding the cheque so to speak. Yet instead of believing and living in the hope that a life of faith brings, they are withdrawn and inward looking, they seem to be considering turning back to their Jewish faith – this letter was written as a forceful reminder that what they possess in Christ is far better. These believers are having a wobble of faith, I can relate to this, as I am sure many of you can too.

Sometimes we all need a reminder of what we are doing here (wherever here may be)and where we are going so the writer of Hebrews writes to these Jewish Christian believers and contrasts the person and achievements of Jesus, with the Old Testament priesthood and sacrificial system.

Jesus is not only incomparably greater than these, but He is also the ultimate realization of all they stand for. He is the perfect priest, offering the perfect sacrifice. He has finally removed the barrier of sin and given people access to God, in a way a sacrificial system never could. That was the copy, He was the original pattern. That was the shadow: He is the reality people have been searching for. To turn away from Him back to a proven failure – is to lose everything.  Faith in Jesus is a heart and mind transformation.

Whilst I was preparing for today, I received a reminder, it was not quite a letter like what the Hebrews received, it is something that I had forgotten I owned – a bookmark.  It reads “You are Chosen by God” some of you may also have one the same, or very similar – as this was gifted to me by one of the children from Worship Zone. (Thank you Maria)

It reminded me that just like Simon Peter, Andrew, John and Zebedee, who were called to put down and leave their nets. We too are chosen and called to follow Him. With the rise of social media, we are familiar with the concept of following, we can follow people on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and lots of other social networks that I am probably too old and out of touch to know about!

Jesus was always surrounded by crowds, many chose to follow Him to see what they could get, however the disciples followed Jesus as they knew He was the key to who they could become.

To follow Jesus as a disciple is different, it is more than keeping up to date with what He had for dinner, where He has been or what others are saying. It is a personal invitation to be involved, to walk alongside, join in with what He is doing, this is kingdom work – to share the Good News that we have heard, to plant seeds and love others, so that hearts may be changed and opened to Jesus.

Just like the two sets of brothers we heard about today, we too are called to live distinctively and differently in this world. As we follow Him there are things we may be called to put down and leave behind, it might not be such an obvious or drastic change as leaving our jobs like the disciples did, it could be habits, behaviours, or fishing for things we want rather than need.

If we truly follow there will be things we will leave behind and maybe even things we need to pick up. We are all chosen, we are all special, we are all loved, and we are all invited.

What response will we make as Jesus enters our lives anew today and invites us to repent and believe? Will we choose to be in the crowd, coming just to receive, or do we want to be His disciples? letting Jesus change us and embark on a faith adventure?

It may not always be easy, we only need to read on in the Gospels to see the challenges the disciples faced, but we have a hope and a promise and by the power of the Holy spirit Jesus will lead the way.

He announces a call and invites us to respond with a new way of thinking and acting. He doesn’t spell out in detail what he expects of us. He comes and announces a new time, a Kairos that will be different for each of us. We do not have a roadmap into the future, but as we follow Jesus who leads us there, all we need to do is say yes, follow and believe!

Let us pray

Loving Father, we thank you that we are invited follow Jesus, to join in and help to build your kingdom here in this place. Help us to stay focussed and even in our wobbles, give us the faith and confidence to believe and trust in you.  Amen.

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