Speaker: JD Summers | Date: February 22, 2015 | Text: Mark 1:16-20
** We were unable to capture the audio for this sermon, but an abbreviated manuscript is available below **
Our mission as a church is “to glorify God by being and making disciples of Jesus.” That is what drives our priorities as a church and gives shape to our ministry. But I want to ask you a question. Do we really understand what it means to be a disciple? What does it look like? What does it require? How is it lived out? We need to understand this if we are going to be and make disciples of Jesus to the glory of God. Our text this morning helps to answer that question by showing us what discipleship meant for four fishermen.
16 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. 17 And Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men."18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 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. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
Belief in Jesus is demonstrated by following Jesus. We who believe in Him must follow Him. This is what it means to be a disciple. The gospel produces followers. Last week we looked at the proclamation of the gospel as Jesus came into Galilee. He was preaching the good news that God was working and the kingdom was coming. This good news demanded a response – repentance from sin and belief in the gospel. In verses 16-20 we see the impact that this message had on people. Look at how the gospel call affected these men, and consider how it should change us as well.
Mark records that Jesus had come to the region of Galilee (14). The Sea of Galilee was about seven miles wide and twelve miles long. It was a prime location for fishing. There were many towns and ports that had sprung up around the lake that depended on this industry. Jesus meets two sets of brothers who are involved in the fishing trade. Simon and Andrew (16), and then James and John (19).
Jesus came into Galilee proclaiming the gospel (14). Mark’s gospel is always emphasizing that Jesus in on the move, Him messianic mission is shown to have a sense of urgency. He was preaching as He went, in the city, on the roads and hillsides between towns, and here in v16 alongside the seashore. These men had no doubt been exposed to the message Jesus was preaching. They heard the good news of God’s coming kingdom and they believed. Their belief was now about to make some demands on their lives. Belief in Jesus is demonstrated by following Jesus.
Following Jesus requires allegiance to a new master
Jesus sees Simon Peter and Andrew, along the shore casting their nets and He initiates this interaction. No miracles, no parables, just an authoritative call. It is very unlike the typical Jewish rabbis who were sought out prospective students and selected those who applied and met the requirements. But Jesus chooses these men. While rabbi’s taught people to follow the law, priests upheld God’s ways, Jesus says follow ME. He initiates the relationship and commands them with authority to literally follow.
Who does that? Who walks up on people in the middle of their work and tells them to walk off the job and become His followers, His students, His disciples? Only someone with the authority of a King. He has the authority to call for their obedience and allegiance.
Jesus was announcing a kingdom (14), but there is no kingdom without subjects. Here He is inviting people to submit to His rule and reign over them. These men believed what He said about the kingdom and their belief compelled them to embrace Jesus as their new master. He said follow, they obeyed. They recognized His authority and submitted to it. They left everything and followed Him.
The obedience of Simon and Andrew was immediate (17). The obedience of James and John is complete (20). No longer would their master be their boss or their dad, no longer would they be their own master, but the King of the coming Kingdom.
When you come to Jesus you renounce any other competing allegiance. Jesus said you cannot have two masters.
"No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other…
This is what the gospel hard to swallow for so many people today. We may be interested in what Jesus can do for us, but our flesh wants to rule. We want to be king. This was Satan’s downfall. And it is ours. Ever since the garden we have wanted to take God’s job, to declare what is good and evil for ourselves. Like William Ernest Henry’s Invictus, we defiantly proclaim:
“It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.”
That may seem like a cool tatoo but it is a terrible way to live your life! Jesus comes to us as the true King. Belief in Jesus is demonstrated by following Jesus. It means obedience. It means submission. This is why Paul and Peter and James and John and Jude repeatedly introduced themselves as servants of the Lord. Following Jesus requires allegiance to Him as our new master.
Following Jesus requires embracing a new mission
The call to discipleship is ultimately a call to ministry. Jesus promised to make them fishers of men. Their aim in life, their goal, their primary purpose changed when they responded to the call of Christ. As they submitted to this new master it meant accepting the agenda He gave them. This is central to being a disciple.
To be a disciple was to be a student. And Jesus promised that He was going to teach them to advance the same message Jesus was preaching - the message of the gospel and its demand for a response of repentance and faith. This imagery of fishing not only was a fitting metaphor to these men who were actually fishing at that moment, but it also echoes Jeremiah 16. In Jeremiah 16 God promises that judgment is coming for Israel because of her sin, but that God would one day gather them in.
16 "Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when it shall no longer be said, 'As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,' 15 but 'As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.' For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their fathers. 16 "Behold, I am sending for many fishers, declares the LORD, and they shall catch them…
O LORD, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth …
Do you hear the echo of the great commission there? The context of Jeremiah is one of judgment and restoration. Jesus is telling these men from Galilee that God plans to use them to warn people of judgment and call them to return to God. This kind of fishing is now necessary because the kingdom is at hand (15).
This is our mission. To seek to reach people with the gospel, the good news. How will they believe unless they hear, and how will they hear unless someone tells them (Rom. 10:13-15)? The Apostle Paul tells the church at Corinth that we are called to be ambassadors for the kingdom. We are to preach the message of reconciliation with God through Christ to the world.
2 Corinthians 5:17-20
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Coming to Christ means we have a new master and a new mission. The King wants to use us to build His kingdom through the proclamation of the gospel. As these fishermen responded to the call of Jesus He promised to make them fishers of men. It would be a long and sometimes difficult process, but these men would one day go far beyond Galilee with the message of their master.
John would lead the church in Ephesus, Peter went to Rome, and Andrew went as far as the eastern border of what is now Russia. At the end of His earthly mission, after equipping and training these fishers of men, Jesus told His disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel. They did. They committed their lives to advancing His mission. We can do no less when we understand who Jesus is and what He has done:
2 Corinthians 5:14-15
14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
Belief in Jesus is demonstrated by following Jesus, and following Jesus requires embracing a new mission, His mission of gathering people in through the preaching of the gospel.
Following Jesus results in the establishment of a new community
“God’s reign does not operate in a void.
It assumes people – a people subject to that rule.
It involves the formation of a community.”
– Walter Wessel
James and John left their father, in the boat with the hired servants and followed Jesus (20). This was culturally shocking, that they would abandon the family business, leave their household behind, family behind, all to follow this teacher. Discipleship comes at a great cost. They left behind their old way of life, their livelihood, their future plans, and their place in that community. This is a massive identity shift. They were leaving everything they knew behind and becoming part of this new community of people who believed in Jesus and followed Him.
This is why Jesus came. He is gathering people in to himself to create a new community, and following Him means we are part of that.
Titus 2:14 [Jesus] gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
We are a people. Discipleship requires personal commitment but it is NOT a personal experience. In this early fellowship of disciples we see the seeds of the church. In the NT the church is described always in terms of many making up one. Like a building with many stones, like a family, like a body. Peter points out that we are a community with a new master and a new mission as well:
1 Peter 2:9-10
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
In following Jesus we stand side by side with others who are following. Our faith has the same object. Our hearts are hoping in the same gospel. We share the same master and the same mission. And the bible tells us that we share the same glorious future:
9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"
This morning we are getting a little foretaste of that day. We are a community of disciples who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. A community of people who are turning from sin and believing in the gospel. We are disciples, followers of Jesus.
Sometimes this discipleship is costly. Many of you have left things behind to follow Christ. Friends. Family. Opportunities. Money. Self-righteousness. But none of that compares. Jesus is better. He is worth any sacrifice. Like Paul we say:
Philippians 3:7-8 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
If we would follow Jesus we must embrace Him as master. He is Lord and must be recognized as such (Phil. 2:9-11). We must embrace the church as our new community. And we must embrace our new mission; calling others to repent, believe, follow, and join us in this new community.
What is keeping you from following Jesus? Sometimes their is sin that we must let go of (Heb. 12:1). Sometimes there are things that are good in and of themselves, but they must be held with open hands. There is nothing wrong for instance with boats or nets or fishing or family. In fact those things were good and necessary. But there came a point where these four men faced a choice; and they could not follow Jesus without leaving those things behind.
Do you believe His message? Do you believe He is who He says He is? Then we must also be willing to follow Him. He is our master, He gives us a new mission and makes us part of this new community centered around Himself and His work of redemption on the cross.
The good news is that Jesus initiates this call. He seeks us out and calls us. And the good news is that He is the one who ultimately changes us. He makes us fishers of men. He does not require us to become fishers first and then come. If we let go of all that holds us back, He does the work in us. The process is long and sometimes painful, sometimes it feels like taking up your cross, like losing your life (Matt. 16:24-25), but it is worth it (Romans 8:18).