Thursday, February 11, 2016

"Follow Me... It's Urgent"

Mark 1.17-18 NASU

“And Jesus said to them [Simon and Andrew],

‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’


Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.

Going a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. 

Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him.”

There is a sense of urgency in the Gospel of Mark. The Greek adverb ευθύς (yoo-thoos’) normally translated “immediately” is found 42 of its 87 New Testament occurrences in the book of Mark and 10 times in Mark’s chapter 1 alone.[1] Open the 1st chapter of the 2nd Gospel and see if you can find each usage. Depending upon your version of the Bible, ευθύς will be Greek for “immediately”, “at once”, “instantly”, “as soon as”, “right then”, “without delay”, “didn’t ask questions”, “the moment”, “just then”, “suddenly”, “just at that time”, “right off”, and even “straightway” or “forthwith” in some older translations. A sense of urgency accompanies each use of the word. For Mark, there’s no time to waste. His is the shortest Gospel. It’s succinct in its presentation and full of immediate action. Some call it the Gospel of Pow!

Certain doors of opportunity almost never open. When they do, one must act and, according to the Gospel of Mark, act now! Chances of a lifetime must be seized before they disappear. About two thousand years ago, four commercial fishermen recognized just such an opportunity. They “immediately… left their nets and followed Him.”

I was once a commercial fisherman. I worked a season on the Bernice, a Whitney Fidalgo purse seiner. Built in 1912, this boat leaked like a rusty colander. When running, we had to pump the bilge by hand every couple hours. Our casting technique was a little different than the sons of Zebedee’s. After we made a set and dragged the net, men in a skiff helped us connect the gear to the Bernice's power block and the weighted lead cord was cinched up like a purse string. The web was 90 feet deep and kept afloat with corks along a 1/3 mile long stretch of net. This was major gear and difficult to handle, especially in southeast Alaskan choppy seas in 1972. It was also an immense amount of net to repair. I recall countless crew hours and long days “mending the nets” as we prepared for our salmon season.

Jesus found Simon and Andrew “casting a net”. When He met sons of Zebedee, they were busy “mending the nets”. All four fishermen were in exactly the right place at the right time. They had only a moment to react. The door of opportunity was closing as quickly as it opened. Simon and Andrew had an instinct about Rabbi Jesus. A quick decision must be made. They would not call for a committee meeting, stop to strategize, or hire a consultant. Instead, these men “immediately… left their nets and followed Him.” Brothers James and John did the same. They “left their father” and a thriving family business to follow Christ. These fishermen deeply felt a sense of urgency in the words “Follow Me”.

Do I understand the sense of urgency? Commercial fishing enterprises have come and gone. Nobody (except me) remembers my commercial fishing days. Everything I do to make a buck is temporary. But my relationship with Jesus lasts for eternity. Do I feel the immediacy in my soul when I am busy “casting” and “mending the nets”. Will I drop everything and follow Him… immediately?
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The beautiful photographs "Purse Seiner" and "Floats" in this post were taken by Gary Robertshaw in August 2003 and made part of his Waterfront Walk Gallery ("Photos from an afternoon walk along Morro Bay California's waterfront" . Gary kindly gave me permission to use his photographs here. Check out his wonderful work at http://www.pbase.com/roberthouse.

[1] “As an adv.‎ ευθύς ‎appears 87 times in the NT… It is a temporal adv. and appears almost exclusively in narrative texts (miracles, figurative language, parables)”. There is a “striking frequency [of this word] in Mark (42 times)…” from article entitled “ευθύς” by W. Pöhlmann, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament © 1990 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

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