November 8, 2011
Following Jesus Today
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Jesus has called Simon and Andrew to be His disciples, and He promised to make them fishers of men. Now, Jesus walks a little further, and calls James the son of Zebedee and John his brother. Today we will look more closely at the call of these two disciples and try to understand what Jesus wants from our lives.
Going on a Little Farther. Jesus did not stop with calling just Simon and Andrew to be disciples. Jesus knew He would call other disciples to follow Him. He later reminded His disciples that they did not choose Him, but He chose them (John 15:16). Jesus picks the disciples He desires, and He wants everyone on earth to follow Him. He does not desire that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). But the choice remains for each one of us: will you follow Jesus today? Personally, I am thrilled that Jesus went farther, found two more disciples, and called them by name (Mark 1:19). As we saw in our last study, Jesus always knows your name, and calls you to follow Him. Maybe you have been wandering lately. Perhaps you have realized you need to walk more closely with Jesus. As we read through these simple verses, consider what James and John left behind to follow Jesus.
Jesus Saw James and John. In Mark 1:19, we see the mission of Jesus Christ unfolding before our eyes. We might think it was a small thing to walk by the seashore, watching people mend their nets, or cast them into the sea. Actually, Jesus was shaping the course of human history to fulfill the plan of God for the salvation of the world. We see people mending nets, Jesus sees disciples to be called to serve God all of their lives. I long to see the world around me like Jesus saw it. I pray that God would let me share His vision of the people around me. Jesus loved James and John, and had great plans for their lives. Those plans included serious pain and suffering (Mark 10:35-40), but also times of great glory and service to God (Mark 9:2-13). When we see the world as Jesus saw it, we see the love of God manifested among men, and God calling men to glorify Him all of their lives, and then be received into glory (Psalm 73:24).
Mending the Nets. Jesus called men hard at work (Mark 1:19). Jesus did not call the indolent, the lazy, and the useless. James and John were busy, working with their hands, mending nets they used for making a living. I have repaired castnets, sewing them together so that I can catch more fish. In fact, I have several nets. One net had so many repairs to it that I knew it was good for throwing around rocks or other obstructions, which rip the net when I retrieved it. Fish know about rocks too, and often hide from predators around the rocks. Mending my net was just a part of having a castnet. Consider James and John on a different level for a moment. Apparently, James and John were fishermen with Simon and Andrew, and partners in the fishing business (Luke 5:7-10). They were mending their nets, getting ready to fish some more. Jesus had different plans, and He called them from the daily routine of fishing and getting ready to fish. You may be reading this passage today, even while you are at work. Jesus calls us to work for Him. Not everyone quits their regular job to follow Jesus, but everyone finds a new Master and Boss when they follow Him. Work will never be the same when we work for Jesus every day. Do not think that you have to go to some isolated place to become holy or devoted to Jesus. Jesus calls people at work to follow Him. Perhaps you are mending nets right now–listen for the voice of Jesus calling you to follow Him with all your heart, mind, and spirit.
Immediately He Called Them. In the Gospel of Mark, we read repeatedly about fast-paced action. “Immediately” Jesus called the disciples (Mark 1:20). Mark emphasizes that Jesus acted quickly and with purpose. In this case, Jesus called (“ἐκάλεσεν“) James and John. Perhaps you have experienced the call of God in your life. You have heard Jesus telling you to go and do something, following Him as you go. Jesus still calls people every day to follow Him, in just the same way He made disciples of James and John. Jesus first calls you to salvation by faith alone, and then He continues His call upon your life to follow Him all of your days.
They Left Zebedee. James and John did not consult Zebedee their father, because it did not matter what he would say. They were leaving to follow Jesus (Mark 1:20). In His later ministry, Jesus explained that everyone who left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or farms for His sake or the gospel’s sake would receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, and in the age to come, eternal life (Mark 10:28-31). When James and John left Zebedee, they began to follow Jesus without reserve. They committed themselves entirely to the purpose of following Jesus all day, every day. We need that same obedient listening and following attitude in our lives today. Our lives will prosper as we follow Jesus and leave behind everything and everyone. Notice that Jesus did not teach His men to disregard people, but Jesus changed the focus of His disciples to following Him, and learning how to love people with the love of Jesus Christ.
They Left the Boat and Hired Hands. Jesus called James and John to leave the family business, right in the middle of work (Mark 1:20). As far as we know from the text, they did not explain anything to Zebedee, or the hired hands. They left right away. Notice that they left a fishing business that employed hired servants. Jesus calls men and women to leave the family business, and at times takes several people at once. Notice that Simon, Andrew, James and John all the left the business right away. Can you imagine your business losing four critical employees at the same time? Jesus called these men and they left to follow Him.
They Left To Follow Jesus. In Mark 1:20, the text emphasizes that James and John left with Jesus. Symbolically, they completely and totally left their father and the business behind, recognizing the higher call of Jesus Christ upon their lives. The term “went away” (“ἀπῆλθον“) describes the fact and totality of their decision to leave. They departed, but they did not leave alone. They did not abandon the family business, but left with a purpose and a calling–to follow Jesus.
So we learn more about following Jesus today.
● Jesus calls people hard at work to follow Him.
● Following Jesus means you leave your job, your family, and everything else behind and place Jesus first in your life.
● Following Jesus means that you follow Him wherever He goes, and He sets the new agenda for each day, and not your family, your work, or anything else on earth.
Application for Today
As I live today, I want to be sure I am following Jesus. He called me to put Him first in my life, as my Leader. I walk behind Him. As you walk today, are you following Him? Are you close enough to Jesus to hear Him speaking words directed just to you? Will you stop mending nets and follow Jesus to new places today?