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Who Do You Say I Am?
The Gospel of Mark
The Kingdom Is at Hand

My name is James.  I’m the other brother.  Everyone likes my brother John.  But, I am the oldest son of a man named Zebedee.  My family is in the fishing business.  My father is a fisherman.  His father fished the same Lake as his father.  His father’s father caught fish just like we do in Lake Galilee.  The fishing is good in the Lake.  We do well.  We and our partners own two state of the art fishing boats.  We have a successful fishing business.  We employ a few other fishermen to work for us. I am thinking about expanding to third boat, soon.

Fishing is a good life.  We make as much money as anyone in Capernaum.  I get to work outside.  I get to fish 6 days a week; not bad.  Fishing sure beats… cutting stone… or farming or raising sheep, yuck.  I am blessed to be a fisherman in a long line of fishermen. 

I expected to be a fisherman all my life.

Mark 1:14-15 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

As long as John was preaching in the wilderness, Jesus let him.  Jesus allowed John the Baptizer to continue to prepare the way for the coming kingdom.  But when John the Baptizer was arrested, it was time for Jesus to crank it up.

Jesus came into Galilee.  Most of the shifts in the Gospel of Mark are defined by either time or location changes.  “After” John was arrested… Then Jesus came into Galilee.  Changes in places mark changes in the story.  It will be fun as we study the Gospel of Mark to watch for these shifts in the story. 

After John was arrested… Then Jesus came into Galilee.  It was time for Jesus to get started.  So, he began proclaiming the Gospel of God. 

This was the plan; the plan that had been unfolding from the beginning of time…

Galatians 4:4-5 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Thousands of years had passed since the Garden of Eden.  And now, after John was arrested, the plan began. Jesus came into Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God.

 Mark 1:14-15 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

The kingdom is at hand… what do you do when the kingdom of God is near you?  You repent and believe in the gospel.

We are about to see what repent and believe looks like…

We had been fishing all night.  At certain times of the year the fish are more active at night.  So, we had our crew and the two boats out most of the night, but we hadn’t caught any fish.  It happens.  Not very often, but occasionally we strive out.  Those are the nights when you do wish you were a shepherd; yuck.

As sun came up, we made our way back to the beach to clean up the nets and the boats.  I was looking forward to… nap…  which I never got to.

The nets we use are elaborate.  They are called trammel nets. Trammel nets are actually three nets in one. There are the two outside nets which have a larger opening that fish can freely swim through, but in between the two there is a tightly woven mesh net.  Fish will swim through the outside nets without a problem, but they get tangled up in the inner fine meshed net. We usually set out the nets in our favorite spot.  We call it the honey hole.  After the nets are set up, we make a lot of noise by splashing the oars and stamping on the bottom of the boat in order to drive the fish into the net.  We attempt to get the fish entangled in the net. Then we hauled out the net and disentangled each fish by hand, one by one.

The hard part of using trammel nets is after we use the nets all night, it takes several hours to repair, untangle and then dry out the nets for the next night.   That is what we were doing one morning.  We got back to the beach not long after the sun was up, to work on the nets, when people began to gather on the beach. 

Usually, there are not anybody on the beach at the crack of dawn.  Usually, it is just us and a few other fishermen on the lake in the morning.  So, it was a bit odd to see these people gathering on our beach.

We asked them, “What’s going on? What are you guys doing here?”  They told us that word had gotten around that Jesus of Nazareth was going to be at the Lake this morning. 

Jesus of Nazareth was going to be on our beach that morning. 

I remembered Andrew telling us all about this Jesus of Nazareth.  Simon and Andrew were our partners in the fishing business.  Andrew had talked of nothing else for weeks. Andrew had been a fan of John the Baptizer before he got arrested.   Andrew actually got to meet Jesus.

 John 1:35-42 John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!"  The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.  Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, "What are you seeking?" And they said to him, "Rabbi" (which means Teacher), "where are you staying?"  He said to them, "Come and you will see." So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.  One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which means Christ).  He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas" (which means Peter).

Simon and Andrew were all excited about meeting this guy whom John the Baptizer had called the Lamb of God.  Anyway, it was this same Jesus who was supposed to be on our beach that morning. 

Then Jesus showed up.  He walked right up on the beach and began to preach.  It was the most amazing sermon I had ever heard.  He preached like he was an authority on the subject of God.  We kept listen, as did everyone else.  Then more and more people kept showing up, until we didn’t have room to work on the nets.  Then, Jesus stood on the front of one or our boats while Simon pushed off the shore and Jesus kept right on preaching. 

“The kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

It was the most amazing sermon I had ever heard. 

When Jesus was done preaching, he turned to Simon…

Mark 1:17-18 And Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men."  And immediately they left their nets and followed him.

And then Jesus turned to me… James, the Son of Zebedee, the fisherman, the not so popular other brother… "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."

Have ever been around someone who is unique?  

--Someone who is magnetic?

--Have ever been around someone who fully knows who he is?

--Someone who is so passionate about his mission that he’s contagious?

--Have ever been around someone who is so real that you are drawn into his circle?

--Have you ever been in the presence of someone who made you realize that what was the center of your life is now unimportant? 

Jesus is 100 times more magnetic than anyone you have ever met. 

"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." 

We left dad in the boat and signed up to be fishers of men on the spot; that morning; there on the beach. 

And you won’t believe what happened in the next few days.

We left the shore of the lake and went into the city where we lived; Capernaum.  The next day, a Saturday, our Sabbath, we went to church, to the synagogue.  Jesus just started teaching.  I had been going to Sabbath school all my life… it was like nothing we ever heard before.  He didn’t make it up…. It was like he knew it.  We were all wow, “So that’s what that passage of Scripture means.”

Then this crazy guy bursts into the synagogue, right on que, like Jesus had planned for him to enter at just that moment…

Mark 1:24 "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are- the Holy One of God."

This guy was possessed by demons… He was challenging Jesus.  We were all stunned.  We all just sat there afraid of what this guy might do.  This guy was big and strong and angry and violent… If there had been scary music in the background I would have wet my pants. Then Jesus, without even raising his voice, rebuked the guy….

Mark 1:25 "Be silent, and come out of him!"

The guy fell to the floor and began to squirm and then convulse and fight with himself and then he screamed… the worst scream I have ever heard like a cross between an old man and a dying deer…. And then he was still.  I thought he was dead.  But he gathered himself up and was calm.  It was amazing.

Everyone said…

Mark 1:27 "What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him."

Then everywhere we went the crowds gathered.  Everywhere we went was packed with people wanting Jesus.

So, we went to Simon’s, our partner’s, house and his mother-in-law was sick.  She looked bad.  She was sweating and her face was swollen and red.  She was burning up.  She was just hours from the grave.  Jesus walked right up to her and just took her by the hand and bam she was as good as new.  She got up and took some of the fish we caught the day before and fixed supper.

By sundown, that same Saturday, everyone who had anything wrong with them from leprosy to hangnails lined up for Jesus to fix them.  And guess what… he healed every single one of them. 

In those early days, we traveled around … healing people, casting out demons, curing leprosy – Jesus would touch the lepers – yuck… bam! white as snow. 

All over Galilee we began to proclaim the Gospel of God… The kingdom of God is at hand!  The kingdom invaded Galilee.  We were fishers of men! 

Mark 1:14-15 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

That is what it means to repent and believe in the gospel. 

Repentance is a change of vocation.  James was content to be a fisherman.  James was content to follow in his father footsteps.  James would have died a fisher of fish.  But James changed his vocation.  Not so much his occupation.  But James changed what was at the center of his existence.  James changed… James repented… James became all about the Gospel.  James was a fisher of men.

I think that is what is the heart of repentance.  It is not so much about stopping certain kinds of sinful behavior, that is a result.  Repentance is about changing allegiance.  Repentance is changing what is at your core.  Repentance is removing your self from your center so you can place the Gospel at your center.  You live for a different reason… the kingdom of God! 

The kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.

James believed in the Gospel.  James was drawn into Jesus.  Jesus became the center of who he was.  Over the next couple of years James learned more about Jesus.  Certainly, the death and resurrection refined his understanding of the Gospel, but James changed who he was to become a believer in Jesus. 

Jesus, the Word of God, became one of us.  Jesus is God with us.  Jesus lived out the Gospel… death… burial… resurrection… ascension…. And one day his return.  That is what we believe!  We believe in the Gospel of God.

The kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.

The kingdom of God is at hand; repent -Change your center and believe in the gospel.

The kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. Believe the Word became flesh and lived out the Gospel! 

The kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.


Tim Stidham

February 12, 2017

Los Alamos Church of Christ


Los Alamos Church of Christ - 2323 Diamond Drive - Los Alamos, New Mexico - 87544 - (505) 695.5875