Fish by Pastor Tony

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Christian, how is your Bible reading going?  You may say, “I’m fine. I get plenty of “Bible” Sunday mornings.” That is like watching a preview to a movie and believing you’ve watched the movie.  Sunday should draw you into His Word for a daily experience.  Perhaps you don’t have an outright aversion to reading on your own, but you feel like you just don’t have the time (ironically, I earnestly implore you, please stop reading this article and use these moments on a far superior literature found in the nearest Bible – take up and read).  Some reading this article have ample time (and are curiously still reading despite my attempts to stop you), but you feel like you don’t understand the Bible when you do read it.  In my mind, that is one of the biggest reasons toread!  Take up and read! We don’t read because we already know. We learn and know because we read.  

Well, if you still insist on reading this article, let’s take some time together to read the Word.  In Mark 1:16-18 Mark records these words, “Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he (Jesus) 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.”

In this text Jesus’ public ministry is just starting. As such, He begins calling His disciples to follow Him.  They were regular men who had regular professions.  They made a normal first-century living. Among his first disciples Jesus chose to call fishermen. Peter (known here as Simon) and Andrew were brothers who were well established fishermen.  When Jesus called them to follow Him, He required them to give up everything.  Are you willing to give up everything to follow Jesus? 

You may think, “Well, that is a bit extreme for me. He doesn’t call me to give up everything to follow Him.” Though, He may not be calling you to quit your job (although, sometimes He does), He does call each of us to something far more difficult than merely quitting a job. Jesus calls His followers to ultimately, “take up

[our]

cross and follow Him” (Mark 8:34, Matthew 10:38). Are you willing to give yourself over to His Lordship – even if it means you must die to self? 

But let’s get back to our text here in Mark 1.  Jesus calls His first disciples (and us) to change professions. He calls us to become (to borrow Christ’s term) “fishers of men.”  So, the text says, “immediately they left their nets and followed him” This is a really profound statement.  There is an important development in those words. In order to fish for men, they must put down their fishing nets (a detail that seems trivial – but to the careful reader, every word plays an important role in the text). In lieu of their nets, what tool must they take up? If it is not a net, what tool is necessary to fish for men?  The replacement “tool” (to use linguistic terms – the parallel term) in the text is “followed Him.” They put down their nets and followed Him. 

Our tool for catching men is no longer a net.  Our nets are replaced by a life lived in pursuit of Jesus. That means, Christian, the fundamental tool you have for your new profession – for catching men – is following Jesus.

Notice, Jesus does not call us to take up a “cool ministry” to catch men. He does not replace “throwing a net” with “throwing a party.” Unlike the logic of the professional world, you cannot manipulate men into following Jesus.  That is not how it works in the ministry of Jesus Christ. 

Herein lies the fundamental problem with the discipleship making in the 21st century.  We have believed that our best tools for catching men are any tools that “catch” men.  We begin to believe that if our church (or whatever fellowship you wish to consider) had a better youth ministry or community ministry we could better “catch” this hurting generation.  Or, if our church had a more effective senior citizen ministry, we could really catch senior citizens for Jesus!  We bemoan, if only our music ministry were more “catchy” then we could catch young’uns with our catchy “drums!”. Or, you are convinced we must get rid of those “rock and roll” drums etc. etc. blah blah!

But this thinking is fundamentally flawed. It completely ignores the foundation of Jesus’ discipleship. If we seek to take up any other net than simply following Jesus as individuals, we will be fishing on the wrong side of the boat. 

Ironically, we often replaced a literal net with a literal ministry. We say things like, “If we can just get people in the door.” Or “If I could just cast the net far enough to grab so-and-so.”

No. Jesus says, put down your nets.  Take up the tool Jesus gives us – Himself.  Jesus is the one who catches men. Only Jesus. 

Perhaps you are wondering what it looks like to follow Jesus.  Start by reading about Him in His Word.  Put yourself on those dusty Galilean roads with Christ in the first century.  Second, talk with Him throughout the day. Prayer should be as natural as breathing.  Third, surround yourself with His disciples.  Invest in those relationships were Jesus is loved and cherished.

Now that we have read verses 16-18 of Mark 1, what do verses 19-20 likewise teach us?  How might that apply to your life? Take up and read.  Come and follow the one the Word reveals: Jesus Christ.  

Following Jesus with you,

Pastor Tony

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