Everyone has their favorite childhood memories.
Whether it be great family vacations, trips to the ballpark with dad, lying out under the stars on a warm summer night with a sibling, tramping through the woods with a friend, baking cookies with grandma or any number of other heart-warming moments, most have several things in common.
First, they involve being with someone else – usually someone you care about deeply, and who loved you perhaps even more deeply in return.
They are also usually something relatively simple: No grand productions or vast sums of money spent; Just some time doing something you both enjoy and, in the process, learning something about the world, about your loved one and about yourself.
And, for many, it involves getting dirty.
For some, this can involve becoming completely covered in flour, as they toil for hours in the kitchen, preparing a holiday meal or baking those neverending tins of Christmas cookies. Or perhaps your warm and slightly grimy memories involve sawdust, motor oil or clay dust in your socks after hours on a ball diamond near your house.
And recalling these memories, years down the road, just may cause tears to well in your eyes. Feel free to blame the dust.
In much the same way, God calls us all to get dusty with Him.
While the other three Gospels tell us something of the origin of Jesus, either of His lineage, advent and birth, or His heavenly origins as the Living Word of God, the Gospel of Mark opens with the striking image of Jesus walking along the Sea of Galilee, calling out to some dirty fishermen to lay down their gear and take up a new occupation.
“Come, follow me,” He said. “And I will make you fishers of men.”
While obviously a clever turn of the phrase (from “fishermen” to “fishers of men” – get it?) Jesus meant much more than that. As Pastor Bryan shared with us, Jesus was also employing a well used phrase of that day, that time and that place, one used to describe influential Jewish religious teachers, known then and today as rabbis.
Jesus, who would quickly become known as a rabbi to people throughout Israel, was inviting the men to be His disciples, to leave behind their old lives and to follow Him so closely, they would themselves become like Him – great teachers, sent from God, to reel in people, and draw them to the God who made them and who then, just as much as He does now, desires to have such a close relationship with them, that it is as if His very dust is on them.
And the men answered His call. Today, thanks to their desire to be with the Master, we know these men by simple first names: Peter, Andrew, James, John. Years later, that same John would write striking words:
“There is no fear in love…” he would write in the passage we now know as 1 John 4:18.
And John would know. Following Jesus from that rocky shore, he would stay with Jesus for the next three years, traveling all over Judea, Galilee and Samaria, watching Jesus heal, deliver, save, raise the dead, cast out demons, preach and teach to tens of thousands, even walk on water and calm a storm with a command, and then, one day, staring up at the cross on which his friend and teacher suffered and died, only to run to his empty tomb three days later, and stare in amazement as his risen Lord ascended to Heaven, to take His seat at the right hand of God the Father.
This same John, who described himself as the disciple Jesus loved, knew what it was like to be so close to Jesus, His love would simply push away fear, leaving no room for any concern except for that which also concerns the Master, the teacher, the rabbi.
Today, Jesus is still calling us to cast down our nets, cast aside our fear and worry, leave it at the shore, and simply follow Him, joining together with countless billions of others around the world, as His disciples, His apprentices, filled with the power of His Holy Spirit, covered in His dust, in friendship and love for Him, tasked with continuing His work in this world.
And where will you go?
That’s the adventure.
Follow me, He says. Won’t you come?