Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Gospel Of Mark, Part 5 - Jesus Calls

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
As we return to our study of Mark's Gospel we read of the account of Jesus calling His first disciples. as we read this account we see that the first four men that Jesus called to follow Him were not the religious leaders of the day; they were not rabbis, they were not the Pharisees, they were common laborers. We read that Simon and Andrew were casting their nets into the sea, for they were fishermen. We also read that James and John were in their boats mending nets.

These were not influential men, they were just common blue collar workers, but this is who Jesus called to follow Him. And we are told that they immediately left their nets, their families, their boats, their livelihood - they left everything - and they followed Is this how we respond to Jesus? When God shows us something in His word do we immediately obey? Do we leave everything without hesitation and do what He asks? These men did, and they left an example for us to follow.

Next look at what Jesus called them to do: He called them to follow Him, and He called them to a life of bringing others into a relationship with Him. I want to look at each of these individually because this not only applied to Simon, Andrew, James, and John - these same callings apply to us today as well.

Called to follow Jesus

The first thing that Jesus calls us to do is follow Him. We cannot obey Him in anything that He asks of us until we first decide to answer His call and follow Him. But what does Jesus mean when He calls us to follow Him? We read in the Gospel of Luke:
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Luke 9:23
Of this verse John MacArthur writes:
Self-denial was a common thread in Christ’s teaching to his disciples. The kind of self-denial He sought was not a reclusive asceticism, but a willingness to obey His commandments, serve one another, and suffer - perhaps even die - for His sake.
(John MacArthur,The MacArthur Study Bible, Luke 9:23)
This is exactly what Jesus is calling us to today as well. When we follow Him we are giving up our life in exchange for His life; as His follower we are no longer live for ourselves we now live for Him. We live to obey Him, to serve one another, and yes even to die if necessary. Which brings us to the next part of our study.

A call to evangelism

When Jesus called these men to come after Him, He said, "Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men." Of this calling J.C. Ryle writes:
The meaning of this expression is clear and unmistakable. The disciples were to become fishers for souls. They were to labor to draw men out of darkness into light, and from the power of Satan to God. They were to strive to bring men into the net of Christ's church, that so they might be saved alive, and not perish everlastingly.
(J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Volume 1, Mark, Page 10)
This is the same thing that Jesus has called all of His disciples to do - you and me included:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20
And if this is what Jesus has instructed us to do, are you doing it? Are you purposely and intentionally striving to make disciples of all men? Do you share the gospel with those you know; do you talk about Jesus with your friends and family? That is the privilege Jesus has given to each and every one of us - to introduce the people we know (and even some we don't know) to Him.

How are you doing? Are you introducing people to Jesus? Let me leave you with one final thought from Bishop Ryle:
Does the fisherman strive to catch fish? Does he use all means, and grieve if unsuccessful? Does the fisherman have patience? Does he toil on day after day, and wait, and work on in hope? Happy is that man, in whom the fisher's skill, and diligence, and patience, are all combined.
(J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Volume 1, Mark, Page 10)
So my challenge to you today is this: If you have never followed after Jesus then today is the day to Repent of your sin and turn to Him in faith. When you do this He will save you. And if you are already His follower then I challenge you to share your faith with someone today; you never know, you just might be the one that God uses to bring them "into the net of Christ's church."
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