“And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.”
Mark 1:17 KJV
It is another Monday in the life of the world, and God is still in His business of faithfulness. For this reason, and many more, we say Thank you Father! By His faithfulness He sent His Son to the earth to seek us out. What a loving Father He is!
We are going to examine Christ’s mentoring pattern in the life of few ordinary local fishermen He turned to God’s generals. This can be classified into 3 parts: The Pattern, The Power, and The Prize.
1) THE PATTERN
After inviting His disciples into the ministry, Jesus Christ mentored them, and taught them the pattern of soul fishing. Now, looking at Mark 1:15, we will notice that Jesus’ original preaching had three emphases: the Kingdom, Repentance, and Belief.
“And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Mark 1:15 KJV
How about if we back up through that verse to emphasize the three elements of Christ’s preaching.
First, Jesus’ preaching called men and women to “believe in the gospel.” This was the good news, that God’s Kingdom was about to happen. They were to believe that Messiah who was promised had come. After the Cross, the essential message would be, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). But we see that Jesus’ original preaching contained the essence of what we call today gospel preaching. From God’s Word we see that this is the way salvation is to be preached. We must be committed with all our hearts to preaching justification by faith alone.
Second, Jesus preached repentance. The Bible portrays a saving faith that is life changing faith, otherwise it is dead or non-saving faith. This element of the gospel has fallen on hard times.
The result is that in world today, there are multitudes of unregenerate “believers” who are comfortably situated in their churches and no one questions the authenticity of their faith. Belief is all that is necessary to become a Christian, but it must be a belief that changes the life. If you say that you believe, but there are no substantial changes in your life, you had better consider carefully whether you truly believe.
That is why in Jesus’ preaching and indeed in the preaching of the Apostles, repentance and belief are so closely bound together. Repentance plays like a musical refrain through the Book of Acts, where Paul sums up his teaching to the Ephesian elders by saying, “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:20, 21).
Gospel preaching involves preaching repentance! Sadly, repentance has been reduced to little more than a whisper in much of today’s preaching.
David McKenna, who served with such distinction as president of Seattle Pacific University, once saw a prominent preacher walk out of a sermon in which a colleague insisted that the gospel included repentance from sin. Explaining his one-man protest march, the man said that “contemporary man needs a message of hope, not fear.” That preacher spoke only half the truth. Man today needs hope, but he also needs to recognize that he is a sinner in need of forgiveness and repentance. Unless sin is acknowledged and confessed, there is no hope.
Given our contemporary materialism and sensuality, we can be sure that if Jesus began his public ministry among us today He would begin by calling us to repentance. If He walked the streets of our town, He would call us to belief, but He would also call us to cease our adulteries, repent from our materialism, renounce our gossip and our jealousies, repent from our lying. Moreover, He would do it with urgency, just as He did then, calling out, “The kingdom of God is near. The time has come.” Our text literally says that Jesus heralded this truth, calling it out loudly.
Both in Jesus’ teaching and in His example we can see a pattern in principles that every soul-winner must emulate.
AVAILABILITY: Perhaps the most astounding truth of the New Testament is that God has time for sinners. The Gospels over and over again show that Jesus was available. Incredible as it sounds, with so little time to teach and train the slow-learning disciples, Jesus was always open to those who came to Him for comfort or healing. The Gospels never record Jesus turning down a request for help. Jesus always had time to invest in others. Even while on His way to heal Jairus’ daughter, Jesus took time to heal the woman who had suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years (Mark 5:21-34).
IMPARTIALITY: One clear truth about Jesus was that He showed no favoritism. Anyone – whether poor, sick, defiled, demonized, or outcast could approach Him. And the underdogs got to Him as easily as the wealthy and powerful. You can see no difference between His reception of well known Jairus or the powerful Roman centurion versus the Samaritan woman of Sychar or the woman taken in adultery. His impartiality was a declaration of love and tenderness to those He sought to win. The woman at Sychar gives a beautiful example. She not only was a religious outcast in the eyes of Jews but was an adulteress. She had had five husbands and was then living with a man to whom she was not married. Yet Jesus firmly but gently led her to the place of faith. Through her, many other Samaritans were led to salvation (John 4:7-42).
EMPATHY: Jesus expressed one emotion more than any other, compassion. Jesus was totally sensitive to the needs of those around Him. Jesus always recognized an open heart, a repentant sinner. Jesus never was out of touch, when the crowd pressed around Him, He felt the faith of the woman who touched the hem of His garment. “Jesus turning and seeing her said, ‘Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.’ And at once the woman was made well” (Matt. 9:20-22) Christ’s Spirit filling us gives us Christlike empathy to make us sensitive to others, and to lead us to them or them to us.
2) THE POWER
Jesus said, “I will make you”. It is not a trial run, a test drive. It is not based on mental calculations or human scheming as many indulges today. It is not by your incessant organizing church programs to collect offerings in disguise. No, it was a divinely energized mission. When we fall into line in obedience behind Him, we shall experience the undiluted Power of the Holy Spirit to do His bidding, He seeketh such as allies and delegates to do His work. And Jesus chose four and possibly seven men in the band of disciples who were professional fishermen John 21:1–3. He wanted to take their strengths and weaknesses and teach them how to be His servants working in His power.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus called so many fishermen to His side? Perhaps there are many reasons. Jesus wanted to supernaturally empower some of the character qualities of a good fisherman, which are:
DILIGENCE : Fishermen were hard working people; usually professional fishermen did not sit around doing nothing. They either sorted their catch, prepared for a catch, or mended their equipment. The Lord needs hard working people who are not afraid to work.
PATIENCE : A fisherman needs to be patient, because he knows that it often takes time to find a school of fish. Fishermen learn to wait. It certainly takes patience to win others to Christ.
EXPERIENCE : Fishermen must have good instinct for going to the right place and dropping the net at the right moment. Poor timing has lost many a catch, both of fish and of men. Fishermen must have skill; they must learn from others where to find the fish and how to catch them. Soul-winning demands skill too.
PERSEVERANCE : A fisherman must have perseverance. It is not simply a matter of waiting patiently in one place, hoping some fish will eventually show up. It is a matter of going from place to place, and sometimes back again, over and over-until the fish are found. These men had to work together, and the work of the Lord demands cooperation.
COURAGE : Commercial fishermen, certainly ones such as those on the Sea of Galilee, frequently face considerable danger from storms and various mishaps. It takes great courage to reach out of our comfort zone and try to touch a life in the name of Jesus.
HUMILITY : A good fisherman also keeps himself out of sight as much as possible. It is very easy for ourselves to get in the way of our witnessing, causing people to turn away. A good soul-winner keeps himself out of the picture as much as possible.
FAITH : But most of all, fishing demands faith: fishermen cannot see the fish and are not sure their nets will enclose them. Soul-winning requires faith and alertness too, or we will fail.
3) THE PRIZE
One glorious morning, the whole course of history changed as Jesus came upon some fishermen as they toiled along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Verses 16 and following describe what happened:
“As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen”.
The Greek tense explains that Simon Peter and Andrew were repeatedly casting their circular nets from the sides of their boat and retrieving them when Jesus called to them with what one commentator called a “sharp military command.”
“Come, follow me … and I will make you fishers of men” (v. 17).
When Jesus issued this challenge to the fishermen to drop their nets and follow Him we would expect a pause, some time of thinking it over, or even a hesitation. Not so, with the eye witness account of Peter through the pen of Mark we see instant obedience. Mark records Peter as saying that there was no pause, not even a second look.
“At once they left their nets and followed him” (v. 18).
What an amazing display of obedience! And to underscore it, the story continues:
“When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed Him” (vv. 19, 20).
These verse record what may be the most impact filled moments of obedience in history.
What did that choice mean to them? First their world expanded from life of the shores of an obscure inland lake to the widest global exposure there could ever be. When they followed Jesus that day their whole world changed! In place of Galilee came the world! John went to Ephesus, Peter went to Rome, and Andrew went as far as the borders of Russia! Jesus enlarged their hearts to encompass the whole world. Jesus expanded their minds to think the eternal. Jesus expanded their worlds to seek every creature of God’s image with the Gospel of Salvation. What are we waiting for? We are all called into this way, Matthew 28:19-20.