In Mark 1:14-20, we hear the story of the start of Jesus’ earthly ministry. He is beginning his ministry just as John the Baptist is ending his ministry. Both of them called on the people to repent. The main difference between both ministries is that while John the Baptist was a one man show, Jesus built a team. Jesus knew that he would not be able to do all of the work himself, so he went out and recruited his disciples. One would think that Jesus would have chosen educated people, perhaps even some of the religious leaders of his day, but Jesus chose ordinary, common people. Some might think his choice was unwise, but Jesus, like God, knew what he was doing.
God calls ordinary people like you and me to be the church, the body of Christ in the world today. God doesn’t necessarily choose those who are particularly gifted or capable or who are made of the “right stuff”. Jesus chose them because he saw qualities that were needed for successful discipleship:
- Diligence. Fishermen are always busy doing something. God needs people who are not afraid to work.
- Patience. It takes time to find a good school of fish, and it takes time and patience to win others to Christ.
- Experience. Fishermen have an instinct for going to the right place and dropping their nets at the right time. Winning souls demands skills too.
- Perseverance. Fishermen have to go from place to place until fish are found. God wants people who won’t give up when things get tough. Fishermen have to work together, and God’s work demands cooperation.
- Courage. Fishermen often face danger from storms and other mishaps. It takes courage to reach out of our comfort zone and touch lives in the name of Jesus.
- Humility. A good fisherman keeps himself out of sight as much as possible. A good soul winner keeps himself out of the picture as much as possible as well.
- Faith. Fishermen cannot see the fish and are not sure their nets will enclose them. They have to have faith and trust in their fishing gear. Soul-winning requires faith and alertness too, or we will fail.
God calls the unlikely and he says, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”. Discipleship involves taking a leap of faith into the unknown while at the same time trusting Jesus to lead us to the right destination. Jesus took the strengths and weaknesses of the first disciples and taught them how to be his servants working in his power. He does the same thing for us today. He takes our strengths and weaknesses and uses them to do his work in our world. We are Christ’s eyes, ears, hands and legs. Only then do we become really useful to our fellow man.
Mark’s Gospel captures the sense of urgency that Paul conveyed to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31. Jesus was operating under a sense of urgency. He had too much to do and not enough time to do it. He had a sense of immediacy. He had an immediate message that required an immediate response because the message was so life-changing and so wonderful that the people who heard it could be immediately moved to repent, respond and react. That was the reason why the disciples answered his call without hesitation.
What response will we make to Jesus when he enters our lives and invites us to “repent and believe”? He announces a call and invites us to answer with a new way of thinking and acting. He doesn’t spell out in detail what he expects of us. He doesn’t give us a rule book explaining how we are to behave. Instead, he comes and announces a new time and invites us to follow and trust him. We don’t have a roadmap into the future, but we follow Jesus who leads us there.
We must answer the call right away when he calls us. Only then will we be enriched spiritually. Jesus will teach us just like he taught the disciples, and just like the disciples in turn taught the people. The response will be immediate when we know by faith that Jesus’ death on the cross has conquered our sins and defeated Satan. We belong to Jesus because he sought us out, just like he sought out the first disciples. We are to spread the Good News that Christ loves people-not just deacons and elders, not just choir members, and not just Sunday school teachers. He loves all people, and we are called to love people like noisy neighbours, beggars on the street, or the homeless alcoholic. We are called to make Christ’s love known to them, and the only way to do that is to love those people as Jesus does.
We are the same as the disciples. We are all the same no matter our education or ability or experience or enthusiasm. We remain sinners who need to repent and hear the Good News of acceptance and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. We need to hear over and over again about God’s love for us in Jesus’ life and death and resurrection. We need to be reminded that we are called to repent and believe and follow. Repentance loosens our hold on things of this world and tightens our grip on the things of God’s world. It involves embracing the source of life itself.
- Charles Spurgeon’s Evening Devotional. Retrieved from www.crosswalkmail.com
- Matthew Glowacki, “Following Him”. Retrieved from www.lhm.org/dailydevotionsprt.asp?date=20100716
- Mark D. Roberts, “Follow Me!” Retrieved from www.TheHighCalling.org
- Pastor John Barnett, “Are You Fishing for Eternal Souls?” Retrieved from www.dtbm.org
- Jude Siciliano, O.P., “First Impressions, 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), January 23, 2000”. Retrieved from www.preacherexchange.org
- Charles Spurgeon, “Fishers Follow Him”. Retrieved from www.crosswalkmail.com
- Exegesis for Mark 1:14-20. Retrieved from www.sermonwriter.com
- The Rev. Beth Quick, “Immediately”. Retrieved from www.bethquick.com/sermon1-22–6.htm
- The Rev. Dr. J. Bennett Gareas, UMC, “Follow, Follow, Follow”. Retrieved from www.day1.org/529_follow_follow_follow.print
- Dr. Philip W. McLarty, “Fishers of Men”. Retrieved from www.sermonwriter.com
- The Rev. Dr. James D. Kegel, “The Good News of God”. Retrieved from www.sermonwriter.com
- John Shearman’s Lectionary Resource, Year B, Third Sunday after Epiphany. Retrieved from www.lectionary,seemslikegod.org/archives/year-b-third-sunday-after-epiphany
- Jude Siciliano, O.P., “First Impressions, 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), January 22, 2012”. Retrieved from www.preacherexchange.org
- ESV Study Bible. Part of Lessonmaker Bible Software package
- Wycliffe Bible Commentary. Part of Lessonmaker Bible Software package