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Fishers of Men – Jesus Calls His Disciples

By Shane Johnson

In this post by Shane Johnson, Jesus calls his disciples and tells them to be “fishers of men.” The story is found in Mark, chapter 1.

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Fishers Of Men

After the events of John chapters 1 through 4, where we read Jesus turned water into wine, cleansed the Temple, told Nicodemus he needed to be born again, and gave a Samaritan woman a soul-satisfying drink, He returned to Galilee and officially began His ministry.  Read chronologically, the events of the first chapters of the gospel of John take place between the events of Mark chapter 1 verses 13 and 14.  There we read that it was after John was put into prison that Jesus began preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, whereas we read at the end of John chapter 4 that John was still freely baptizing, and was not yet confined to the dungeons of Herod.

fishers of menFor Mark, the first thing Jesus did to inaugurate His ministry was to begin calling His disciples to follow Him.  From the events of John chapter 1 we know that Jesus already had met Andrew and His brother Peter and their friends, Philip and Nathaniel.  It is uncertain whether He met James and John at this time but we can assume from Philip’s enthusiasm and Peter’s impulsivity that James and John had probably heard a whole lot about this Jesus while they were emptying and mending their nets.  In a small town, news travels fast, especially news this good!  We have found the Messiah, was their message.

As Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, intentionally I presume, He saw Andrew and Simon casting a net into the sea for they were fishermen.  “Follow Me,” Jesus said then promised, “and I will make you fishers of men.”  They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

Engaging In The Spreading Of The Gospel

Jesus presents us with a golden opportunity.  He calls us to leave our earthly business to join Him in His Father’s business.  For some, like Andrew and Peter and James and John, this means literally leaving their places of employment to engage in spreading the gospel of Christ.  For others, this means retaining their places of employment but abandoning them in their hearts.  Christ calls us to make our sole purpose in life the proliferation of the kingdom of God.

This first time Jesus laid eyes on the man called Simon, way back in John chapter 1, he made a declaration: “You are Simon the son of Jonah; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).  Through his contact and connection to Jesus the Son of God, Simon was to be transformed into a Stone, a man of integrity, courage and faith.  When Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, chisel in hand, so to speak, he began his work of changing Simon into a stone.

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The Skill Of The Mentor

Let us use an illustration in order to realize the greatness of the opportunity Jesus presents to us.  Imagine Wayne Gretzky from Canada, or Vladislav Tretiak from Russia, call you up on the telephone and tell you to follow them and in doing so, they will make you a great hockey player.  “But I don’t even know how to skate,” you might protest.  That makes no difference to me, Mr. Gretzky would say, fishers of men“You just follow me, and I will take care of the rest.”  We need to realize that in God’s kingdom it is not the skill of the disciple that makes a great follower but the skill of the mentor.  In Christ, we have the greatest mentor of all.

This illustration also highlights the graciousness of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Do we deserve to be His disciples?  Are we qualified to be on His team?  Those who train to compete on national teams practice for years and must past rigorous tests in order to prove their skill and endurance.  Jesus Christ, in contrast, takes us as we are and trains us up along the way.  The world says, “Unqualified people need not apply.”  The Lord Jesus says, “I will make you qualified as you follow Me.”  Oh, it make take some time.  You may make a lot of blunders, take a few detours, and experience failure but the Master Potter has begun his work in you and He will bring it to completion, says Philippians 1:6.

Following Is An Opportunity

Perspective is important.  We must remember that following Him is a privilege not a burden.  Following Him is an opportunity not a chore.  Unless we view it this way, we will not progress in our walk with Him, nor will we bring Him glory.  A disciple must want to follow His master or the whole thing becomes a vain exercise in religion.  But for those who truly chase after Him, it is a glorious journey all the way.

A movie many will be familiar with is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  In that story, five children are presented with a golden opportunity to go to Mr. Wonka’s Chocolate Factory to learn all his candy making secrets.  Little do they know, Mr. Wonka is testing them to see which child will inherit his factory when he is ready to pass it on.  One by one, the children fail the test by behaving selfishly instead of using the opportunity given to them for the benefit of others.  At the end of the story, only Charlie Bucket is given the keys to the factory, being chosen to inherit all things.

An Invitation To Join Jesus as Fishers of Men

Discipleship is like that.  The Lord Jesus Christ invites us to be involved with His work upon the earth.  He does not force us to make sacrifices to Him.  He does not coerce us to pray, read our Bibles or witness to others.  He invites us to join Him.  And He has given us an example to follow.  At the end of it all, when the work of spreading the gospel is finished, he who was faithful in little will be entrusted with true riches, says Luke 16:11.  And in Luke chapter 16 verse 12 we find this question: “If you have not been faithful with what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?”

The Lord is gracious.  He calls us to be involved with the greatest work in human history, the redemption of mankind.  The Lord is a skilled disciple maker.  He works with what is weak in order to give it His strength.  Let us yield ourselves to Him.

Shane Johnson

Shane is a regular contributor to our Christian internet radio station, HopeStreamRadio  through his program entitled “Christ Up Close.” You can listen to podcasts from Shane Johnson’s show, “Christ Up Close,” by clicking here.

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Images Courtesy of:

Calling Simon and Andrew – Duccio De Buoninsegna

Jesus Calls Simon and Andrew – James Tissot

Fishing- TheDigitalWay

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