To proclaim Jesus as the messiah requires more than just lip service.
New Revised Standard Version translation
After John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “Now is the time: the kingdom of God is nearly here; change your ways, and have faith in the good news.”
As he was walking along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea — they were fishermen.
And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”
And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
Farther along he saw James and John, who were in their boat mending the nets.
Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
Immediately. Without hesitation. What’s with this “immediately” business? Can you imagine that happening today?
As Jesus was walking along Market Street he saw Simon and his brother Andrew working under the hood of a car — they were mechanics.
And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will show you how to make people run beautifully.” And immediately they dropped their tools and followed him.
Farther along he saw James and John, who were unloading boxes from a truck. Immediately he called them; and they left their father at the store with the employees, and followed him.
Jesus speaks and immediately these disciples literally “drop everything”; they are instantly onboard, no questions asked.
And, initially, for me, just a bit unbelievable. (OK, more than a bit.) Who would do that? Even in ancient Palestine, where life was pretty dull, to go chasing after an unknown quantity — without any knowledge or information… These people weren’t stupid, so how could this be?
Then I got to thinking. I thought about our friend Alan’s garage, where he has stored several boxes of beta-max recordings and 8-track tapes alongside a nearly-new dot-matrix printer.
We all know people whom we might describe as “early adopters”: those folks who are the first in line for whatever is new and different: potions and pills, Pilates and Pet Rocks, iPhones, Apple Watches, and albino pumpkins. Sometimes the enthusiasm is rewarded… and sometimes it is not.
But it remains, that almost magical allure of the unknown — preferably rare, exotic, unpronounceable, and untested — which is, just maybe, The Solution to our troubles: the Cure for All that Ails Us, the Elixir of the Gods, the Salvation of Humanity. You never know….
And who among us doesn’t lean in close to listen and keep watch as each new possibility appears; our ears inclined, our eyes peeled, on the alert to either heap scorn upon the failure or dive right in and join the crowd? After all, you never know….
Perhaps it’s time that we admit it. We are all always on the lookout, no matter how we disguise our yearning, for the Kingdom of God. Of course almost no one calls it that, not any more. We’re all too enlightened, too rational, too sophisticated, too smart. But what we really yearn for is that All Be Well.
Never again will they hunger, nor thirst, nor suffer; God will be with them and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things will pass away.
~ Revelation 7, 21
It’s natural, a part of being human: we are creatures of compassion and care — and imagination. We can envision a world where there is joy and gentleness, peace and plenty; a world where the lion will lie down with the lamb (and the lamb won’t have to worry in the least!). We believe such a glorious world is possible, achievable: as Jesus said, “close at hand.” We want such a world, truly and deeply.
We want the Kingdom of God here on earth. Now. Today. This very minute. Immediately.
And we’d really like for somebody else to do it for us.
And so we seek salvation (rescue) where it cannot be found. We fall into the temptation to believe the claims of those who prey on our best impulses and most heartfelt desires. We run after “new things”: those dreamscape possibilities, those allegedly heaven-sent products, promises, and people — those would-be messiahs we’ve pinned our hopes on.
Jesus said, “The time is coming when you will yearn for the presence of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. People will say, ‘Look, He’s over there,’ or ‘Here He is.’ Do not follow or chase after them.”
~ Luke 17:22-23
Jesus said the Kingdom of God was near at hand, close by, in our midst. So where is it?
It isn’t somewhere else. It isn’t someone else. It is a truth and reality we carry with us and within us — in our following of the Lord Jesus Christ’s Way.
It is in our compassion, our mercy, our forgiveness, our generosity, our graciousness. The Kingdom grows greater, more solid and real within us and within our world — not by our words alone, but by our way of living. We are to do the Word of the Lord.
There is no easy way out, there is no one to do it for us. We have been called to do the work of building the Kingdom. Now is the time, without delay, for the Kingdom is very near at hand.
There were others who followed Jesus just as Andrew, Simon, James, and John did. Many, perhaps, came to him as readily, as earnestly, as hopefully. And many ceased to follow him — because he wasn’t the messiah they were looking for.
Then, as now, people of good will — good people, kind people, compassionate people — will find ourselves tempted to seek salvation from another. False messiahs can take any form: an object, a person, an achievement, a program…. whatever we believe will “save” us, whatever we expect will bring about “a new heaven and a new earth” for us.
No, there is no other who can rescue us, no other who can establish the kingdom of peace and goodwill that we yearn for, that holy land where all is well. The Kingdom is within us: we build it in our way of being; in our following of the Lord with all that we are, all that we say and do, in all that we hope for, and believe.
Consider it pure joy, my dear family, when you encounter trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Let perseverance do its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.
~ the Epistle of James 1:2-4
Virtual hugs and real-time blessings,
Trust in the Lord.