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Follow Me

Mark 1:14-20

The Rev. Jon Roberts

22 January

2012

Grace Episcopal Church

Monroe, LA

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” 16 And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zeb′edee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zeb′edee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him.

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Jesus calls the disciples, 560AD, St. Apollinarius, Ravenna, Italy

“Its by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done; to be so in love with you and so alone. Follow me where I go what I do and who I know make it part of you to be a part of me. Follow me up and down all the way and all around; take my hand and say you’ll follow me.”[1]

These are the lyrics to the popular song “Follow me”; dedicated by the musician John Denver to his wife Annie as he traveled across America singing his song. They are the same words that were once used by another traveler. On the shore of Galilee, Simon Peter and his brother Andrew would hear two simple words that would take hold of their life forever: “Follow me.” Nathaniel and Phillip, the week before heard three simple words that took hold of their life forever: “Come and see.” Hearing the words, the disciples took the hand of Jesus and became a part of Him. Sometimes we hear words that come as a precious gift at just the right moment. We wonder how someone could be so generous, giving so easily.

A long time ago, there was a holy man who travelled to the outskirts of a village and settled down by the shore for the night. A villager came running up to him and said, "The stone! The stone! Give me the precious stone!" "What stone?" asked the holy man. "Last night I had a dream" said the villager. "It foretold that if I went to the outskirts of the village at dusk, I should find a holy man who would give me a precious stone that would make me rich forever." The holy man rummaged in his bag and pulled out a stone. "It was probably meant to be this one," he said, as he handed the stone over to the villager. "I found it by the shore some days ago. You can certainly have it."

Amazed, the man looked at the stone wondering if this were true. It was a diamond. Perhaps the largest diamond in the world. It was as large as a man's head. He took the diamond and went away with great excitement, but all night long he tossed about on his bed, unable to sleep. The next morning, at the crack of dawn, he hurried back to the holy man and said, "Please give me the wealth that made it possible for you to give this diamond away so easily." The holy man prompted him, “Come and see."[2]

Follow me where I go what I do and who I know; make it part of you to be a part of me. To leave behind what is familiar and to follow Jesus, is not the hardest thing to do. Turning something dull into something that shines, is. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church after he had traveled to their village and spoke specifically about the marks of circumcision.[3] It was not important to go through such drastic measures to become a follower of Christ. One did not need to become Jewish to abide in God's commands. Here we find a people who felt they needed to run off like Paul; to escape from the worldly pursuits and pleasures; or perhaps to be cut off from a life that was without meaning. But Paul says their life did have meaning and purpose. Circumcision means nothing and uncircumcision means nothing. The thing you don't want to do, is to cut yourself off from the love that is right inside of you.

When Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net. They stopped fishing; something they had been trained to do all their life. To associate with a rabbi, a holy man, was a rare opportunity. They didn't come around very often. They were drawn into Jesus of Nazareth. All of them... one by one, all of the disciples eventually followed him. It doesn't say they followed Jesus because they hated their jobs. They simply went with him a while and took a walk.[4] For three years they walked with him around from town to town. They were with him where he did some public speaking. They were with him when he healed some folks; even that day he raised one from the dead. His fame rose as a local boy who did good, but the disciples didn't follow him because of his fame. There was more to him. He seemed to know how to fish, better. He seemed to know how to heal, better. He seemed to know how to give, better. He took ordinary things and made them extraordinary. He took things that were dull and made them shine.

That's what God wants us to do. God calls upon us to take His hand. He wants us to join Him in making the world a better place. God takes ordinary people by the hand, and says "If you'll just follow me, I'll show you the Son where all of this light comes from." Let God show you the way. Come and see. Follow Him.
He knows what is in your hearts. There are no secrets that are hidden. Are you somewhere in a boat today and feel the weight of the net? What are you waiting for? What is so hard? Maybe it's our pride that dulls us. Maybe it's our past that makes our heart heavy. If so, pray, "Dear God, give me the wealth that made it possible for you to love me so easily." Out of the depths He hears our voice [5], and He wants to make you shine like a diamond.

Its by far the hardest thing you’ve ever done to let go of the things that keep you from the Son. Follow Jesus where He goes, what He does and who He knows; make it part of you to be a part of Him.
Follow Him up and down all the way and all around
Take His hand and say you’ll follow Him.

[1] John Denver, Follow Me, 1970.
[2] Ref. by John Claypool, Philip: The Careful Realist to Anthony de Mello, The Song of the Bird, p.183.
[3] 1 Cor 7:17-23
[4] Mark 1:14-20
[5] Ps 130:1b

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