Summary: 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.
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:
1. Diligence. Fishermen are always busy doing something. God needs people who are not afraid to work.
2. Patience. It takes time to find a good school of fish, and it takes time and patience to win others to Christ.
3. Experience. Fishermen have an instinct for going to the right place and dropping their nets at the right time. Winning souls demands skills too.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.