Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” 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. 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 going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him. (Mark 1: 14-20)
The kingdom of God is the central theme of Jesus’ mission. It’s the core of his gospel message.
How do we enter the kingdom of God?
John the Baptist gave us the first key. Repent.
Repentance means to change – to change my way of thinking, my attitude, disposition, and life choices so that Christ can be the Lord and Master of my heart rather than sin, selfishness, and greed. True repentance requires a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17) and sorrow for sin and a firm resolution to avoid it in the future. The Lord Jesus gives us grace to see sin for what it really is – a rejection of his love and wisdom for our lives and a refusal to do what is good and in accord with his will. His grace brings pardon and help for turning away from everything that would keep us from his love and truth.
Then we come to the second key. Believe.
To believe means totally to submit oneself to a reality on the basis of a trust in the one testifying to the reality. To believe means to entrust ourselves fully to Jesus and on the basis of that trust to ground our lives on what he says. Because of our trust in Jesus, we believe in what he reveals to us about God the Father and we ground our existence on that Father’s love and call.
But you know that. There are two other lock openers that should be at the core of our belief. They are both explicit in their direction.
The third key is “follow me” or “Come after me.” Jesus says those words to Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John in the Gospel and they immediately left their nets, their boats, their fish, their employees and their families to follow him. They believed in Jesus already enough to leave everything behind and base their entire life on his word calling them to follow him and become fishers of men. Likewise, for us it’s not enough to repent and to believe, because the Lord Jesus always calls us to follow him in faith, turning back on other things.
And all of that brings us to the next key. Fish.
That’s right, fish. The Lord in calling us to be with him and sends us out. The two great verbs in his vocabulary are “come” and “go.” Once we begin truly to live in his kingdom, we begin to share his hunger for everyone to enter. We will “catch people” for the kingdom of God if we allow the light of Jesus Christ to shine through us. God wants others to see the light of Christ in us in the way we live, speak, and witness the joy of the gospel.
The Lord takes what ordinary people, like us, can offer and uses it for greatness in his kingdom. That is an honor for each of us and speaks to his love for us.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, you have called me personally by name, just as you called your first disciples, Simon, Andrew, James, and John. Help me to believe your word and follow you faithfully. Fill me with the joy of the gospel that your light may shine through me to many others.”
The gospel calls us to trust, to open our hearts and allow Christ to make his dream for us a reality. All of us can think of things in our lives we had thought would be different, things in our family, things in our business, things in our relationships. There were successes we never achieved and dangers that we did not avoid. But today’s gospel tells us that all those expectations are secondary. What is primary is that Christ has called us and we are to follow him. And we should follow him because he is trustworthy. We can place our lives in his hands as long as we remember that his commitment to us is not to give us what we expect—but to give us what is good.