Mark Part 5: A Call To Become Fishers of Men
14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. 16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. 18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him. 19 And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets. 20 And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.
This morning we are brought from the wilderness setting of last week to a beautiful place, for we are on the shores of Galilee, and speaking as one has been there I can attest to the beauty of this place.
The spot is a blue-green lake called the Sea of Galilee or Kinneret as the locals call it. The Sea of Galilee is an oval-shaped body of water about eight miles wide and thirteen miles long, and is nearly 700 feet below sea level, and its not a sea at all it is a freshwater lake.
There were many fishermen in Galilee, Josephus, who, for a time, was governor of Galilee, and who is the great historian of the Jews, tells us that in his day three hundred and thirty fishing boats sailed the water of the lake, and it is Fishermen we are dealing with when we pickup in our narrative.
It seems as though these men were busy about their work when Jesus, a total stranger to them, appeared and called them to follow Him, which they did without question.
I don’t know about you, but I cannot imagine anyone responding to the call of a stranger in this way. The fact is that Jesus was not a stranger to them, that they had met Him already.
You see Mark, in writing his account, chooses to edit out large chunks of what happened – he is the gospel writer who cuts to the chase. But in comparing the Gospels we determine that a approximately a whole year has passed between verses 13 & 14.
This year is referred to as “the year of obscurity” because we have a few scant details, mostly from John’s Gospel of Jesus’ activities during that period.
During that time these men had already met Jesus. At that time they had come to faith in Christ, so the call here is not a call to salvation, but to service.
So the call is to become fishers of men, “Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.”
Let's examine Christ's calling of these fishermen, it has 3 parts: the pattern, the power and the presupposition of the calling.
First Jesus gives...
1. The Pattern of the Calling
1. The Pattern of the Calling
Look back at Mark 1:15 again. Notice that Jesus’ original preaching had the emphases: of repentance and belief.
And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Repent and believe, this is simply repentance and faith, notice the order.
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, Easy believism has crept into the Church, and its a doctrine of the Devil! just pray this prayer and your in type teaching.
The Bible is clear and Jesus was clear, their can be no saving faith without repentance, they are inseparable. But this doctrine of truth has been watered down to make the Gospel more palatable to the masses, the result is that their multitudes of unregenerate people in Churches today, who have are living a lie, a delusion.
There has been no change in their lives, there the same person they where, no different, no desire for the things of God, no burden for the lost, no conviction of the Holy Ghost, Church is no more than a social club, or a thing they do, or somewhere they feel they don’t even need to be… that’s folks is dead faith, is a nonexistent faith, and that the false faith that takes us straight to hell.
The destination of eternal souls is the most important thing their is, that’s why its so important to possess Christ and not just profess him
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
So the message we bring in soul winning is set out by our Master, repentance and faith. Jesus also gives us a pattern in principles from his teaching and example that every soul-winner must emulate.
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.
One clear truth about Jesus was that He showed no favouritism.
Anyone - whether poor, sick, defiled, demonised, 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).
Jesus expressed one emotion more than any other, compassion.
Jesus was totally sensitive to the needs of those around Him. Jesus always recognised 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.
Next then we want to think about
2. The Power of the Calling
2. The Power of the Calling
16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
Jesus said, "I will make you". It is not a trial run, a test drive. No it was a divinely energised mission.
And Jesus chose four and possibly seven men in the band of disciples who were professional fishermen (see John 21:1–3). He wanted to take their strengths and weaknesses and teach them how to be His servants working in His power.
Jesus wanted to supernaturally empower some of the character qualities of a good fisherman.
What are some of the Character qualities of a fisherman, that that translate to the calling to fish for souls of men
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Just like God used the qualities of these fishermen, he will take our personalities and use them, he will supernaturally empower us through his holy spirit to fulfil his will!! Folks, what God has called us to, he will equip us for, not because we have the skills, but simple because we yield to his call, he provides the power in the calling...
33 God is my strength and power: And he maketh my way perfect.
1 I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. 2 The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.
26 My flesh and my heart faileth: But God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
It’s not us its him, and that means we have no excuse!!! no reason to not follow him!!! not to comply!
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
That leads us to our final point
3. The Presupposition of the Calling
3. The Presupposition of the Calling
18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
The presupposition of the calling is a response of obedience, we are to yield to the master, to submit to his calling, following his pattern, rely on his power and get fishing for immortal souls.
The question is are we engaged in soul winning, are we following the master in service and actively fishing for souls as he commands us?
The Church is largely sleeping in this area, which is sad to say the least.
Listen, Jesus has called us to be fishers of men – we have no business sitting on the shore when men and women are being lost on the sea.
The Lord said, “Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.”
Fishers of men – that’s it.
But what do you find in Christian circles?
You usually find two kinds of Christian: Those who are net casters and those who are stone casters.
There are those who are busybodies in other men’s matters, and there are those who make their body’s busy in the Master’s matters.
And what matters to Jesus is that we be “fishers of men!”
He wants us serving!, how many Christians are serving! How many Christians are praying for the lost, how many are sharing the gospel, how many are serving in the local Church, how many are obeying the commands of scripture, how many are truly following !!
The story is told who called of a group who called themselves fishermen.
Week after week, month after month, and year after year these who called themselves fishermen met in meetings and talked about their call to fish, the abundance of fish, and how they might go about fishing. Year after year they carefully defined what fishing means, defended fishing as an occupation, and declared that fishing is always to be a primary task of fishermen.
Continually they searched for new and better methods of fishing and for new and better definitions of fishing. Further they said, “The fishing industry exists by fishing as fire exists by burning.” They loved slogans such as “Fishing is the task of every fisherman,” “Every fisherman is a fisher,” and “A fisherman’s outpost for every fisherman’s club.” They sponsored special meetings called “Fishermen’s Campaigns” and “The Month for Fisherman to Fish.” They sponsored costly nationwide and worldwide congresses to discuss fishing and to promote fishing and hear about all the ways of fishing such as the new fishing equipment and whether any new bait was discovered.
These fishermen built large, beautiful buildings called “Fishing Headquarters.” The plea was that everyone should be a fisherman and every fisherman should fish. One thing they didn’t do, however: they didn’t fish.
In addition to meeting regularly, they organised a board to send out fishermen to other places where there were many fish. All the fishermen seemed to agree that what is needed is a board which could challenge fishermen to be faithful in fishing. The board was formed by those who had the great vision and courage to speak about fishing, to define fishing, and to promote the idea of fishing in faraway streams and lakes where many other fish of different colours lived.
Also the board hired staff and appointed committees and held many meetings to define fishing, to defend fishing, and to decide what new streams should be thought about. But the staff and committee members did not fish.
Large, elaborate, and expensive training centres were built whose original and primary purpose was to teach fishermen how to fish. Over the years courses were offered on the needs of fish, the nature of fish, where to find fish, the psychological reactions of fish, and how to approach and feed fish. Those who taught had doctorates in fishology. But the teachers did not fish. They only taught fishing. Year after year, after tedious training, many were graduated and were given fishing licenses. They were sent to do full-time fishing, some to distant waters which were filled with fish.
Some spent much study and travel to learn the history of fishing and to see faraway places where the founding fathers did great fishing in the centuries past. They lauded the faithful fishermen of years before who handed down the idea of fishing.
Further, the fishermen built large printing houses to publish fishing guides. Presses were kept busy day and night to produce materials solely devoted to fishing methods, equipment, and programs to arrange and to encourage meetings to talk about fishing. A speakers’ bureau was also provided to schedule special speakers on the subject of fishing.
Many who felt the call to be fishermen responded. They were commissioned and sent to fish. But like the fisherman back home they never fished. Like the fishermen back home they engaged in all kinds of other occupations. They built power plants to pump water for fish and tractors to plow new waterways. They made all kinds of equipment to travel here and there to look at fish hatcheries. Some also said they wanted to be part of the fishing party, but they felt called to furnish fishing equipment. Others felt their job was to relate to the fish in a good way so the fish would know the difference between good and bad fishermen. Others felt that simply letting the fish know they were nice, land-loving neighbours and how loving and kind they were was enough.
After one stirring meeting on “The Necessity for Fishing,” one young fellow left the meeting and went fishing. The next day he reported he had caught two outstanding fish. He was honoured for his excellent catch and scheduled to visit all the big meetings possible to tell how he did it. So he quit his fishing in order to have time to tell about the experience to the other fishermen. He was also placed on the Fishermen’s General Board as a person having considerable experience.
Now it’s true that many of the fishermen sacrificed and put up with all kinds of difficulties. Some lived near the water and bore the smell of dead fish every day. They received the ridicule of some who made fun of their fishermen’s clubs and the fact they claimed to be fishermen yet never fished. They wondered about those who felt it was of little use to attend the weekly meetings to talk about fishing. After all, were they not following the Master who said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men?”
Imagine how hurt some were when one day a person suggested that those who didn’t catch fish were really not fishermen, no matter how much they claimed to be. Yet it did sound correct. Is a person a fisherman if year after year he never catches a fish? Is one following if he isn’t fishing?
Well what about you?
Are you a fisher of men?
Who are you trying to catch for Jesus?
Are you busy about the Master’s business? Are you praying for the souls of men?
Are you labouring in search of the lost?
Are you far reaching in your efforts? Are you focused – seeking to win some one in particular? Are you fearless in your testimony for Jesus?
What extraordinary things the Lord can do with ordinary people who are committed to Him.
May God help us, each one of us, to answer the call to be fishers of men.