Scripture: Mark 1:14-28
Key verses: (18-20) 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
Reflection: When I think of fishing, I think of a day of leisure on a lake, and some soft tunes playing to the rhythm of the water. Or in imagining the scene set in this passage: a couple of young men in a row boat in the middle of a still lake, rod and reel in hand, without a care in the world, figures who look like they are straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. This is not the case here.
Fishing was exhausting work. Commercial fishing is a difficult and even dangerous profession. If you don’t believe me, I encourage you to tune in to watch Deadliest Catch or Wicked Tuna – both showcasing the intense discomforts of commercial fishing. Not only was fishing a difficult profession, but it presents almost no opportunity for economic success in the first century. Rome claimed full and exclusive rights to the waters and demanded taxation on anything collected from them. This meant first-century fishermen had to pay to fish and most of the times this was allocated from the day’s portions, whether the day was successful or not.
Simon, called Peter, and Andrew left everything they knew, all they had worked for and their only means of income. James and John left all of that and even left their father in the boat. Their response to Jesus was an act of political protest and a step in faith. When the first disciples left their nets they were ceasing to fund the empire and began serving a new kingdom. They left behind their best chance at livelihood and the very communities that formed them for the sake of seeking after this new vision.
In this season of lent, I wonder what nets we are being called to drop. I wonder what nets of comfort we hold on to because it is all we know. How are we called, personally and collectively, to become “fishers of people” in our world today? I wonder what holds us back from immediately responding to Christ’s call on our lives. I encourage you to take time and reflect on our call to follow Christ, what must be left behind in order to seek the new vision that is the kingdom of God.
Prayer: Jesus, you called Simon and Andrew and with no questions they dropped their nets. James and John left their boat and their father. We hear you calling us. Help to us to respond to your call to leave the ordinary in order to seek the extraordinary in you. Help us to let go. Amen.
Author: Ben Brannan
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].