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Sermon of Reverend Chris Chantelau
Pastor Chantelau

Follow Me?

Epiphany 3 - Sunday, January 21, 2018
Mark 1:14-20

14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

16As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. 17And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” 18And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.



Simon, Andrew, James and John are also familiar names to us.

Are there any Simons here this morning?

Anyone know a Simon?

A couple of you. 

The Social Security Administration reports that “Simon” has been ranking about 250th in baby names for the last decade.  Not bad.


Any Andrews here this morning?

I know we a have at least one Andrew as a member of Grace.

How many of you know an Andrew?

Andrew has actually been on a steep decline. 

It was in the top 10 until 2008.  Now it is 34th.


How about a James?

We have at least two of those at Grace, so we all know a James.

I was surprised to find out that James has been hanging around 20th for decades.

                                    But it suddenly on the at 5th in 2016.


And, of course, we have a bunch of John’s.

But, again, I was even more surprised because I thought sure that John would be in the top 10 names.  But it was 14th in 2000 and has been steadily declining to 28th in 2016.


Obviously, many people feel that these first four disciples are remarkable enough to name their sons after.


But you might be surprised to find out who is considered the most remarkable enough person in the Bible to be the number one name for boys from 1999 – 2012  – anyone want to guess what it is?  Jacob.   


Are there any Jacob’s here this morning?  I could not easily come up with a Jacob who is member of Grace.    


Jacob lost first place to Noah – which we have none of here at Grace.

How many of you know a Noah though?


Now it makes perfect sense to me that Noah would be a popular name.  He was a remarkable character who had an important role to play in the whole story of God’s people. 

And you probably would not squirm too much in your seats if I asked you to tell me what Noah did, right?   


And Jacob? 

He is remarkable to me because he is such a “colorful” character in the Bible. 

Stole his father’s blessing from his older brother by tricking his father. 

Fell in love with Rebekah at a well but got tricked into marrying her homely sister before he finally got the one he wanted. 

And then he ended up with 12 sons by 4 women. 


Not exactly someone I would hold up as the model I want my son to emulate.

But, apparently, he is remarkable enough to so many other people that he is the number one choice to name your son after.





Now on the other extreme  - let’ talk about Zebedee.

Know anyone named Zebedee?

No one.  That’s not surprising. 

Social Security reports that “Zebedee” is not in the top 1000 male names for the last decade. 


Which is understandable I suppose, because Zebedee only gets mentioned twice in the Bible. 


Here in this passage we read this morning


and then interestingly when Jesus is being crucified the list of woman at the foot of the cross includes “the mother of the sons of Zebedee.


The Zebedee family is actually fits a certain stereotype of the modern Christian family. 

Mom and the kids are really involved in the church, but Dad is kind of on the sidelines. 


Not that I blame Zebedee.  I mean can you imagine how he is feeling that afternoon we heard about in the Gospel reading this morning? 

He and his two sons have come in from their morning of fishing, a morning like every other morning in their lives - where they got up before dawn, carefully loaded their fishing boat with nets, put out onto the Sea to cast and catch until the sun comes up and they bring the catch into the market to sell, then they carefully hang the nets to dry and get things ready for the next morning of fishing – a cycle of life that Zebedee has most likely known his whole life, learned from his father who learned it from his father and now Zebedee has passed it along to his sons who are old enough now to not only help in the family business but make it grow even. 

These are the golden years for Zebedee:

he has a good job and a good life and a good future,

his sons have jobs and good lives and good futures,


Until Jesus comes along. 

Jesus simply says “follow me” and Zebedee’s two sons leave behind their father, their family, their jobs, their future –

something the church celebrates as a miracle that is supposed to inspire us to faithfulness. 


Ok.  But is that what Zebedee is thinking?  

Well, in the Bible it does not tell us anything more about Zebedee but, what would you be thinking if you were him?




I actually think it is more helpful to us when we are considering our own discipleship to look at Jesus calling these disciples through the eyes of Zebedee rather than thinking we should be a bunch of Simons, Andrews, James and Johns. 

I mean the disciples were great and do deserve to have our sons named after them, but we need to remember that they were a very unique and special group of 12.  Just 12. 

And it was only these 12 that have been called by Jesus to drop their nets and walk away from everything to follow him. 


The rest of us, like Zebedee, are not expected to do that because someone needs to stay with the boats and tend the business. 

Lots of someone’s actually. 

Someone’s like us,

who have heard about Jesus and

what he teaches and

what he did,

but instead of throwing down our nets to follow,

we are called to take up our nets and follow.

To stay with the boat and the business and still live as one who is answering the call of Jesus to be a disciple. 


Which is hardly ever simple or easy. 

In fact, it might be easier to follow if we did just drop our nets, walk away from it all and start fresh.  But that is not the discipleship we are called to.  We are not like Simon and Andrew, James and John, we are like Zebedee. 

Which may be why we don’t name our sons after him. 

He just doesn’t seem remarkable enough to us.  


Which is unfortunate, because I think he was.

For he offered everything Jesus asked of him,

his sons,

his wife,

his fortune and future

all in the midst of continuing on with his life and his work.


Which to me sounds like a very remarkable disciple because that’s not easy to do.

            As I think you all know.