“Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.” Mark 1.16-20
When I was a kid, I often went fishing. I remember standing on the shore and casting my line with great anticipation to see if I would catch anything. I’d watch the bobber with frozen determination. When the fish was nibbling at the bait, I learned how to be patient by allowing the hook to set—not react too quickly or it would get away. And of course, I remember cleaning the fish I caught and preparing them for supper that night (not the funnest of things to do).
I wasn’t the world’s best fisherman, but one thing is clear for every fish I caught: its life drastically changed, forever.
Back in Mark 1.14-15 Jesus said that for one to enter the Kingdom of God he/she would need to repent and believe. Notice how this passage immediately follows as an illustration of this in action. For these disciples, a real change of mind had to occur about their life direction and priorities. They were now in the custody of Christ—and by comparison nothing else mattered. James and John show how even one’s family of origin must take a back seat to Christ and his call for life ownership.
Think of your life right now. How locked into your career are you? What would it take to pack your bags and move across the country? To a place where you really didn’t know anyone? What about moving to a foreign country to work as a missionary?
But I fear that somewhere along the way, we’ve allowed our dreams to take the place of God’s dreams. We’ve convinced ourselves that our good intentions are His intentions. For us, God has become our Godfather instead of God our Father.
Mark wants us to see that sometimes the call of Jesus upon us is abrupt—and he deserves a sudden response. In other words, our attitude about Christ and his call upon us is crucial to entering our destiny in his kingdom.
So what can we learn from this earth-shattering call of Jesus upon the first disciples?
- God has every right to call a disciple in any way He chooses
- Walking with God is worth more than anything we could give up
- Genuine followers of Christ are willing to give up what they have for a life of faith in Jesus
- Following Christ is not necessarily about tomorrow—it’s about today (even though we are assured of eternal life)
- Ultimately, God knows what is the best way for you to live your life—even when it may be disconnected from your training or past
As we think about following Christ, let’s remember the story of a particular request to David Livingstone (1813-1873), the famous missionary to Africa. A missionary society sent him a letter asking, “Have you found a good road to where you are? If so, we want to know how to send other men to join you.” He wrote back, “If you have men who will come only if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all.”
1. If you were working with Peter the day Jesus came by, how would you have reacted o his call?
2. Do you think God really expects people today to “leave everything” to follow Him? Why or why not?
3. Are you more committed to your job than you are to the call of Christ upon your life? Do you care more about your retirement than you do about bringing others into the kingdom of God?