Friday of Epiphany III – Mark 1:14-20

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming 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 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into 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 Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

He had walked away from this miserable job once. He had thought, no, that is not quite accurate, he had believed that they had met the man, the holy man, the prophet, whom God had promised. They had followed this preacher all over the countryside. Instead of callouses on his hands, he had developed callouses on his feet as they wandered from village to village, while the prophet preached. Finally, they had ended up at the place where Joshua and then Elijah and Elisha had crossed the Jordan on dry ground. It was a sacred place, a place of beginnings. In his heart he had begun to hope. He had listened to fiery sermons and nodded to himself, “Yes, the axe is laid to the root of the tree.” The well-heeled and mighty had come out from the city and the prophet had called them a brood of vipers. “Yes,” he had thought, “someone finally speaks the truth.”

Now, all that was over. His greatest fear was realized. Herod’s soldiers had come in the middle of the night. In the confusion and alarm, they had taken the prophet away. The kingdom had not come. It was more of the same tired story. Powerful, evil men would always get their way. Disillusioned and disappointed he had returned to his boat with his brother and partners. Old Zebedee was still there. He did not say much when they got back, just pulled the other boat out and let them fish. He had returned to mending nets and boats, struggling against the weather, heaving the sodden mass of a net over the still, dark water, drawing it back in, again and again. Sometimes there were fish. Most of the time it was empty.

This morning, as he and Andrew threw that cursed net out over the sea again, they heard a voice from shore. In the dim light, just before dawn, they saw a man. Sometimes folks did that; they came right down to the beach and bought fish off the boat. It was time to quit anyway, so they pulled the boat in. But he was not looking for fish, but for fishermen. It was Joshua, or Jesus as the Greeks would say. They had met him once before; the prophet had pointed him out. They had spent a day with him.

“Come, follow me, I will make you fishers of men.”

Peter came back to these nets once more after Jesus’ betrayal and death. Jesus also stood on that shore once more, resurrected, forgiveness incarnate. Peter would never be the same. Are you? He still says, “Follow me.”

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