January 22, 2012
TEXT: Jonah 3:1-5, 10/Psalm 62/1 Corinthians 7:29-35/Mark 1:14-20
THE DRAGNET
Vicar Alex Post

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

The words of Jesus make disciples. Last Sunday, we heard about the calling of Philip and Nathanael in the Gospel of John. Today, the Gospel from Mark is about the calling of the first four
disciples: Simon, his brother Andrew, James, and his brother John. Jesus’ Word is always what makes disciples.

These things happen quickly in the Gospel of Mark – right away in the first chapter. Immediately after Jesus’ Baptism by John in the Jordan River, the Holy Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. After that, Jesus was on the move, walking along the Sea of Galilee in the region that became His headquarters on the north side of Israel. Immediately after Jesus spoke His words, “Follow me,” Simon and Andrew dropped their fishing nets and followed Him. Immediately after Jesus called James and John, they left their father and followed Jesus.

January 22, 2012
TEXT: Jonah 3:1-5, 10/Psalm 62/1 Corinthians 7:29-35/Mark 1:14-20
THE DRAGNET
Vicar Alex Post

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

The words of Jesus make disciples. Last Sunday, we heard about the calling of Philip and Nathanael in the Gospel of John. Today, the Gospel from Mark is about the calling of the first four
disciples: Simon, his brother Andrew, James, and his brother John. Jesus’ Word is always what makes disciples.

These things happen quickly in the Gospel of Mark – right away in the first chapter. Immediately after Jesus’ Baptism by John in the Jordan River, the Holy Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. After that, Jesus was on the move, walking along the Sea of Galilee in the region that became His headquarters on the north side of Israel. Immediately after Jesus spoke His words, “Follow me,” Simon and Andrew dropped their fishing nets and followed Him. Immediately after Jesus called James and John, they left their father and followed Jesus.

Jesus’ ministry was urgent. People everywhere were sick, oppressed by a foreign empire, possessed by demons, and caught in the deathly net of unbelief. They needed a healer, a teacher, an exorcist, and a preacher. Notice the first thing that Jesus did in His ministry: He preached. Right after that, He found some men and called them to continue His preaching.

“Repent and believe in the Gospel!” Any preaching that does not have those six words as the focus and center is not worth hearing. Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of God. He Himself was both the preacher and the one being preached about. He handpicked four fishermen to carry on this work throughout the world.

Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John were not the kind of fishermen who used poles, lines, sinkers and bait. They used nets. These nets would catch a large number of fish in them all at once, not discriminating, but scooping them all up in one fell swoop.

There was a TV show long before my time that was called “Dragnet.” The opening credits go like this: “The story you are about to see is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.” Well, in this Gospel narrative, the names are true as well, and the Gospel message is the ultimate Truth. A dragnet is a huge net that is dragged through a river or across the land to catch game or fish. A dragnet can also refer to a systematic search for a criminal using a large number of law enforcement officials. No one can escape! The dragnet closes in, encircles, and traps its victim with ruthless precision.

The dragnet that Jesus and His apostles cast over this entire world is the Word of God. It is a Word that catches every single human being on the planet. This Word destroys the strong and strengthens the weak (Ez. 34:16). This Word kills those who rely on their own goodness, but it brings to life by the Spirit and calls people to rely instead on God’s goodness in Christ (2 Cor. 3:6). You are either caught by the Law and condemned because you broke it, or you are caught up in the wonderful love and forgiveness of Christ on account of His death for you.

There is no escape. For better or for worse, the dragnet of God’s Holy Word will take hold of you. If you hold onto your sin, the prophet Jeremiah preaches God’s Law to you: “Behold, I am sending for many fishers, declares the LORD, and they shall catch them. And afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks. For my eyes are on all their ways. They are not hidden from me, nor is their iniquity concealed from my eyes.” (16:16-17)

Dear Christians, before Jesus brought us to life with His Word, it was like this: Jesus said, “Follow me.” And everyone said, “No.” Human beings are not inclined to drop what they’re doing and follow Jesus. In fact, we are inclined to walk the other way and follow after worthless idols like ourselves, money, success, comfort, sex outside of marriage, and all other Pied Pipers that lead us into the jaws of death.

Dear Christians, today is Life Sunday. The reason we need to observe Life Sunday is that the darkness of sin and death hangs like a thick fog around our families, our communities, and the nations of the earth. The sickening cycle of poverty (Dt. 15:4) – the deathly pandemic of AIDS (Mk. 2:17) – the mass murder of unborn children in their mothers’ wombs (Ps. 139:13) – the unceasing wars of aggression and misery (Ps. 46:9) – the falsely labeled “mercy killing” of those who are old and weak (Ps. 71:9) – the plight of homelessness (Is. 58:7) – the destruction of nature (Nu. 35:33, Gn. 2:15) – the discarding of God’s gift of marriage between a man and a woman (Rm. 1:26-27) – and the final enemy, death – they are all the symptoms of unbelief, which is embodied in sins and devils.

But God has not left us alone with all of this death. With these simple words, God raises us to life: “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” Repentance has two parts: contrition and faith. Contrition is feeling sorry for our sins, and faith is the belief in God by which He saves us. Contrition is the working of God’s Law in our hearts, convicting us of our sins and our stubborn refusal to get up and go when Jesus says, “Follow me.” Faith is the gift of the Holy Spirit that receives the merciful promises of God in Jesus Christ, who alone is the center and focus of the Gospel that we preach.

This Gospel that is preached, here and around the world, is the very death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. “Repent and believe in the Gospel” – the Gospel that we hear and confess every Sunday. Jesus came to us to teach and to preach, but His message always pointed to the cross of His death. Jesus was willingly wrapped in the dragnet of God’s Word, and He was crushed by it in order to pay for our sins. We have not been saved because God’s Law is abolished, but rather because Jesus fulfilled the Law and satisfied its demands for us (Col. 2:14).

Jesus was also raised from the dead by the power of God the Father (Eph. 1:16-21)! By this power, we too are raised from the dead. The Holy Spirit calls us by the Gospel of God. The dragnet of God’s Word is the means by which we are resurrected. 

In this season of Epiphany, the Word of Life speaks, and we are raised from the dead. The risen Christ forgives our sins through the words of His called ministers, and we are brought back to life. This Word of Life is the Light of the world. He banishes the gloom and darkness of unbelief by sending His preachers out to all corners of the world to proclaim His forgiveness and offer His mysteries freely to all people.

You have been called by the Gospel; you have been raised from the dead; and now you are being built up like living stones “as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pt. 2:5) The sacrifices that you present to God are your bodies – “living sacrifices, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Rm. 12:1)

You are all priests. You “proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Pt. 2:9) Every Sunday, you all together have the wonderful opportunity to publicly proclaim the Gospel; “for as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” (1 Cor. 11:26) Every day, in your daily vocation, you “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt. 5:16) And, as you have opportunity, you “honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…” (1 Pt. 3:15)

All Christians are called to take hold of the net of the Word of God in their vocations. But not all are called like Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach to the people there…not all are called to leave everything for this office of proclamation, like Simon and Andrew and James and John did. Martin Luther explained it this way: “A priest is not identical with Presbyter or Minister – for one is born to be priest, one becomes a minister.” (Concerning the Ministry, 1523, AE 40:18) Jesus preached it this way: “I will make you become fishers of men.”

The Office of the Holy Ministry was given by God as a gift to the Church. Ministers are to “proclaim the Gospel to all creation” (Mk. 16:15). They are to make disciples of all nations by baptizing them and teaching them to observe all that Christ has commanded (Mt. 28:19-20). They are to forgive the sins of any who repent and withhold forgiveness from any who do not (Jn. 20:23).

What amazing love Christ has! He gives His Words to us in His way. He trained men to preach and teach His Words. He still does! He calls parents to teach His Words to their children. He blesses you with His heavenly Sacraments so that you can speak the Word of Life to your families, your neighbors, your coworkers, and your friends, always inviting them to worship in God’s house; for God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4)

Now, today and every day, the Word of Life creates every good thought, word, and deed in us. From the tiniest baby to the toddler to the teenager to the adult to the oldest of all, God has called you into the holy priesthood to proclaim the Light of the world and the life He gives to all people. Jesus said, “Follow me.” (Mk. 1:17) And as His followers, we say to everyone: “Come and see.” (Jn. 1:39)

In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a