#5: I Will Make You Fishers of Men

Welcome back to our study of Mark’s gospel. In our last lesson, Jesus survived His forty-day wilderness trial unscathed. Today, we’ll see Jesus begin to choose His band of brothers—the twelve disciples. Get your Bible!

Read Mark 1:14-20.

Between Mark 1:13 and 1:14, Mark skips about a year during which Jesus taught and healed primarily in Judea. (You can read about that period in John 1:35—4:42.) Word about Jesus had begun to spread. Demands on Him were increasing. The crowds were growing. In His following were several men who would soon be invited to join Jesus full-time as disciples.

During this time, Jesus heard that John the Baptist had been put in prison, having angered King Herod with his preaching (Mt. 4:12-17). Jesus took up John’s theme: “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe!” Mark’s account, then, picks up as Jesus began focused work in Galilee.

In today’s scripture, Jesus called the first of His disciples—Peter, Andrew, James and John. At least two of them had already met Jesus and were familiar with Him. Andrew (and probably John) was a follower of John the Baptist who had introduced him to Jesus. In turn, Andrew brought his brother Peter to Jesus. (Jn. 1:40-41).

Now, Jesus came to the Sea of Galilee where these men were working at their fishing business. On their own territory, He issued a call they would instantly get: “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They knew how to fish. They knew how to work hard under strenuous conditions. They were practiced at working together. Jesus was simply changing the object of pursuit.

Immediately, they dropped their nets. They left career, father, servants, houses and families. Their priorities instantly shifted, their goals changed. They saw life differently. Though they didn’t fully understand where it would take them, they knew this was an opportunity they couldn’t miss.

We too are called to follow Jesus. When we follow, our lives should take on new purpose. Our priorities should shift, our goals should change. Why then are so many “Christians” living life just as they did before choosing Christ?

A Choice or a Calling?

The answer lies in understanding the difference between a choice and a calling. Is this life my choice or His call? Am I here because of my interest in God, or because of His investment in me? There’s a big difference in endurance, commitment and results.

A choice is:
• casual (“I’m not getting anything out of this. Time to move on.”)
• based on my desires
• easy to abandon when trouble comes
• seen as doing God a favor
• contributing “my little part”

A call is:
• purposeful, changing only if the Caller releases me
• based on His desires
• goal-oriented and determined, no matter what comes
• seen as God’s favor (grace!) to me
• of eternal, cosmic consequence (Eph. 3:10)

When we understand His call, we’re His through good times and bad. We know why we’re here, what we’re out to accomplish, and who has commissioned us. Like the Twelve who answered His call, our lives are changed forever.

What do you think?

Have you looked at the Christian life as your choice or as His call? Is this idea new to you?

Read 1 Corinthians 1:2, 6, 26-27; Ephesians 4:1; and 1 Peter 1:15. What do you notice about your calling?

© Diane McLoud 2013

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