Summary: This sermon looks at the disciples and the call that Jesus placed on their lives.
Jesus and the Disciples
Mark 1:16-20, 2:13-14
Today, we’re continuing our series about Jesus asking the question, “Who is Jesus?” and “What does his life mean for us today?” To answer that question, we are turning to the oldest existing book about Jesus written between 56 and 60 AD. So what did Mark tell us about Jesus. To answer that question, we have to look at the geography of Israel. At the top of this map you will see the town of Nazareth where Jesus spent most of his first 30 years of life. To the south you will see the wilderness of Jordan where Jesus was baptized and spent 40 days in the wilderness. After this, Jesus returns to Galilee where he will spend almost his entire ministry. The Sea of Galilee is 13 miles long and between 1 and 7 miles wide. It was around these shores that Jesus spent most of his ministry. At the top of the Sea of Galilee is Bethsaida where three of the disciples were born. It was probably where Jesus first called Simon and Andrew. You will notice that the water does not go up to Bethsaida. Scholars believe there was an earthquake in the last 2000 years which caused the water level to drop and the shoreline to change where it is today.
Jesus walks on the shoreline about a mile with Simon and Andrew and he calls James and John to follow him. This is the town of Caperneum and is the place where Jesus set up as his home base for his ministry. The town of Caperneum is still there today and you can see the ruins. This is the area where Jesus spends the vast majority of his ministry. Here is an image of the Sea of Galilee. When you go to the Sea of Galilee, you can actually take a boat out there today and it looks just as it did when Jesus was alive. Show several images. If you ever wondered what kind of fish they caught, there are three kinds. The most prominent is called St. Peter’s fish which is actually tilapia.
Today, we’re going to look at the disciples and the call that Jesus placed on their lives. In our Scripture today, we heard the call of the first five disciples. Jesus calls the disciples to follow Him for three reasons. The first is he needs some help with His mission. The second is that he needs the fellowship and the third is that these disciples will be the ones who carry on Jesus’ mission long after he is gone. Jesus has three years to train them and if they fail, then his entire mission fails and everything that Jesus said, taught, and did, including his death on the cross would have been lost. This was a great act of faith in calling these disciples.
With that in mind, knowing that these men would be charged with carrying on the mission and message of Jesus, who do you think Jesus would call to be his disciples and what criteria would he set out for them? If you were hiring disciples, wouldn’t you get a job description, a list of qualifications, put out a search to find the youngest and sharpest seminary candidates, and then hold an extensive interview process. But did you notice that Jesus didn’t do any of that? When Jesus begins his ministry preaching, “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand”, he travels along the Sea of Galilee and who does he call but two fishermen. No interviews, no job descriptions, no qualifications. They were uneducated fisherman, who talked like fishermen and smelled like fishermen. They are not the kind of people you would pick as the most likely to succeed as disciples. Yet Jesus chose Simon and Andrew. They immediately leave their nets. Now the nets they had were the kind one throws from the shoreline and this indicates they were probably poor fishermen. With this net you can probably only catch 2-3 fish at a time. When Jesus calls, they sense that something extraordinary was happening and if they turned it down, they would regret it the rest of their lives. So they leave their life and their nets behind.
A mile down the coast, there are James and John with their nets. These nets are the kind that you take about 100 yards off the shoreline and then drag the nets in. You can catch up to a 100 fish with these nets. So when Jesus arrives, James and John are cleaning their nets on the shoreline and calls them. And they had this sense that if they didn’t do this, they would regret it for the rest of their lives. And so they leave their father Zebedee, their livelihood and nets.