Summary: From the individual calls of the disciples we see that what he said to them is repeated in the life of every Christian.
“The Call to Ministry”
In the last message we looked at the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Now we see that Jesus came out of the wilderness after his battle with Satan to declare the Kingdom of God was at hand. But the Kingdom of God does not exist in a vacuum it calls for people to operate in its reality and power. The Lord began by calling his disciples.
One day, when Peter and Andrew, James and John were on their usual work as ordinary fishermen, Jesus came by the shore of Galilee and called them to follow Him with a promise to make them “fishers of men”. They never expected that moment. They never planned that appointment with Jesus. Never did they know that that was the most significant pivotal point of their lives.
From their individual calls we see that what he said to them is repeated in the life of every Christian. All Christians are called into the service of the Lord and it is THAT call to ministry that we will consider together today.
The text reads, “And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. (17) Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (18) They immediately left their nets and followed Him. (19) When He had gone a little farther from there, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets. (20) And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after Him.” (Mark 1:16-20)
Remember that Mark’s Gospel is told from Peter’s perspective, so it is little wonder that it is full of details that only a fisherman would remember. In seeking to understand this passage I would like to ask and answer five questions concerning the call of Christ.
First, Who Does the Lord Call?
We are tempted to think from Mark’s words that Jesus had only to speak and without a moment’s hesit-ation the four mesmerized fisherman fell into step and followed Jesus. But that is not the way it happened. This is not the first contact that Jesus has with these men, in fact the events told in John 1:35-43 occur between Mark 1:13 and Mark 1:14. At least two of the fisherman, Andrew and Simon Peter, had been followers of John the Baptist. And no doubt all of them had heard Jesus preach and teach and had talked about His message and His actions. They knew that John the Baptist had pointed Jesus out as the “lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Jesus on his part had noticed them and picked them out as men of potential. He had been calling them persistently and waiting patiently for some time – just as he does with us. Now he appears again and this is their official call to a life of continual discipleship.
Notice with me that the Lord calls Ordinary people. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 reminds us that God delights in calling ordinary people. “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. (27) But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; (28) and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, (29) that no flesh should glory in His presence.” The men who Jesus called to be his disciples were just ordinary people. If we think about what these men will be called upon to do, it is astonishing that Jesus chose these men. They were not educated men, indeed they had much to learn before they would be qualified to do the task that would be committed to them. Perhaps even more important they had much to unlearn, they were exceedingly narrow minded and were full of Jewish prejudices, animosities and misconceptions. They were just men, a mixture of good and bad, of grace and the old sin nature, of spiritual insight and immaturity. They were not the aristocrats or theologians but ordinary men. In fact God delights to use ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. Abraham Lincoln is purported to have said, “God must love the common people He made so many of them.” It is true that later, some very signi-ficant individuals from the world’s standpoint are chosen, the Apostle Paul being one. He was a very educated man, a very intellectual man called to follow the Lord. But by and large the people called to follow Jesus were just ordinary, everyday people, just like you and I.