Mark 1:14-20 ESV
Jesus Begins His Ministry
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the Gospel of God,
John is arrested and his disciples are aware that this is a death sentence. This event foreshadows the miraculous catch that takes place after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. The resurrected Jesus calls out to His disciples from the shore and even makes them breakfast. All events take place in the shadow of the cross. All of us are sinners and stand in the shadow of the tree in the garden that assures us of what we have earned, eternal death. And with that, the long shadow of the cross travels across 2000 years to reach you, cover you and swallow you up. To offer strength, hope and love. Eternal salvation by way of His grace.
15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.”
The great ministry of the Messiah now begins in Galilee. Jesus uses the words the disciples of John would understand.
Jesus Calls the First Disciples
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.”
Jesus’ words are reminiscent of Jeremiah 16:16 – Behold, I am sending for many fishers, declares the Lord, and they shall catch them.
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.
I will now refer to the Gospel of Luke for further details of this event which helped me to better relate to this situation.
Luke 5:1-11 Jesus Calls the First Disciples
5 On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret,
The lake of Gennesaret is one of several names for the Sea of Galilee. Why are these people pressing in in Him? Some of these people traveled 100 miles. Who are we talking about? This is God. This is Jesus. We all know who this is. And why crowds would press in on Him. Imagine a sermon from Jesus? From God Himself? How far would you travel for this? What would you give for this?
2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets.
3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
Rabbi’s would read scripture standing up but taught sitting down. Jesus also used the acoustics of the water to ensure everyone heard Him.
4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
How comfortable are you in deep water? When you can’t touch the ground?
5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”
Simon (soon to be Peter) doesn’t completely understand who Jesus is. Do You? Would you have understood? In Simon’s weary eyes, he can see a carpenter who is educated and can perform healing in the name of God but now this man is telling him his job. But Peter listens. But how well does he listen? The translation I read to you was from the ESV. An alternate translation that I believe is closer to the actual meaning is this, Jesus says to let down your nets. Peter replies that he will let down a net, not the nets Jesus requested. Who can relate to this? Be honest.
You are at your work and it’s been an exceptionally bad day. Then a man you know as an impressive man but a man none the less and a man who doesn’t know your work like you do, comes and tells you how to do your job. You respect this man but you only meet him halfway. How often do we meet Jesus halfway or even less?
6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.
Alternate translation again. Their net broke. Net singular.
7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.
Maybe Simon should have listened more carefully to the Word of God. Maybe we should. That’s where I come in. I’m a hypocrite. I am a sinner. I’m human and spread thin with what this world throws at me. I’m in the deep water and I’m way over my head.
I had to be hit over the head to realize this but I have a few gifts from God. I see the big picture. I’m very self-aware and I know His Word is the ultimate perfect truth. Preaching a sermon is a big risk. I have to preach His Holy Word as the Greatest Truth of ALL time if not I am subject to sever punishment and I run the risk of misleading His flock.
8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
Ah! I can relate to this part. I feel this way every time I approach God in prayer.
9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken,
10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”
An interesting note in the translation they will be catching men “alive.” Taken alive. Saved from death.
11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.
This is the Good Shepherd who is talking here. Why would a shepherd seek fisherman? A simple answer hit me on this one. Many shepherds tend their flock but they don’t usually grow their flock.
Shepherds such as Abel, Moses, David, Jacob, tend to their own flock.
Fishermen need a new catch daily in Galilee. These fishermen are honest, humble, extremely patient, determined, don’t give up even in the face of failure, hard-working, industrious men who breathe, eat, sleep and live their occupation in order to survive.
We’re church going people. We’ve heard the Gospel. We know Peter pretty well.
Peter talked too much. Peter was a violent man. A liar. And he even used profanity. But Jesus knew him better than we do. Jesus saw into his soul and saw His heart. What would Jesus see in us? Are we committed to our faith whole heartedly or half-hearted? Would we even let down one net? Or have let Him in our boat?
In my last sermon I asked you if the tree in the garden was an opportunity or a test? An opportunity to trust God or a test of our faith?
Jesus answers that question here. Allow me to explain further.
Talmidim are the names of students studying to someday be Rabbis.
Talmidim needed to seek out and find a Rabbi they could comfortably communicate with a learn from and then request permission to FOLLOW the Rabbi.
Jesus was referred to as a Rabbi by many, including lawyers, tax collectors, rich people, veteran centurions, Pharisees and Sadducees. From the point of view of the people Jesus fits the description of an advanced level Rabbi, and definitely one who would be sought out by Talmidim.
If an advanced level Rabbi approached a Talmidim to FOLLOW him this would be considered the opportunity of a lifetime.
How do you think these fisherman saw this?
Education in the first century was reserved for the rich and people with very specific backgrounds.
Fisherman earned a meager living and it was extremely unlikely that one would get the opportunity to receive an education from a person of status, let alone four of them.
How do you see me giving this sermon?
I see giving a sermon as an opportunity of a lifetime. A chance to be a tool for God’s plan. I can be a vessel for God’s grace and the Holy Spirit used for the purpose of feeding and saving souls. Healing hearts, sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and revealing the Glory of God.
Who are you? What are you? Employee? Employer? Safe in church? Safe in your comfort zone? Are you a faithful follower of Christ? Or are you struggling with your faith? Does pride get in the way? Do you meet God only on your terms? Does fear get in the way? You want to hear about heaven just leave out the hell stuff. Has life hardened your heart? Something from your past you can’t accept or let go of? Can you forgive like Jesus commands you to forgive?
Are you spread too thin with the distractions of this world? Are you in too deep? Is Satan dragging you down even further? Jesus only needs one net for you and you can’t escape it. I repeat, Jesus only needs one net for you and you can’t escape it. Jesus went all the way despite all of our half-ways, and I’m being generous here, and because of that we live today in the great shadow of the cross that completely engulfs us.
I say the least we can do is listen to His word and listen to it as carefully as possible.
In Jesus perfect name we pray, Amen.