We are going through our series on the Gospel of Mark and last two weeks we heard sermons about coming before the Lord with a Repentant preparation & Humble submission.
We learned about Jesus’s obedient heart towards the Father’s will and how through his act of obedience we were made righteous by grace through faith.
Today our passage will be Mark 1:16-20:  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.  And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”[a]  And immediately they left their nets and followed him.  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.  And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
In Mark, we read a very short narrative of Jesus calling out his first couple of Disciples. We see a more elaborate narrative in the Gospel of Luke and John.
So, here how the story goes…
In the gospel of John, we read an incident where Andrew the brother of Peter comes and tells them that they heard from John the Baptist about the Messiah and they found him.
Now while Jesus was walking by the sea of Genesareth, he saw two boats at the shore and some fishermen washing their nets. I suppose Peter and Andrew were also there washing their nets.
Jesus then gets into one of the boats and starts teaching. After finishing his teaching he asks Peter to put out the boats into the deep and to let down their nets. To which Peter says “We toiled all night and caught nothing, but at your word, I will let down the nets”.
On Jesus’s word when Peter casts his net into the deep they catch a large number of fishes, so much that they were unable to carry it on their boat and calls other fellow fishermen for help.
And then a remarkable incident happens …
Peter falls to Jesus’s knees, saying “Depart from me, for I am sinful man, O Lord.”
Peter’s response is almost like the response of John the Baptist when he speaks about Christ saying “I am unworthy to untie his sandals.”
Here’s what I believe happened to Peter at that moment.
When he saw Jesus performing the miracle and also recollecting the words of his brother Andrew about the Messiah, he immediately realized that he was in the presence of the most High God. His blinded eyes opened, he could see how unworthy and wretched he looked in the presence of the promised Messiah.
He wanted Jesus to depart from him, to depart and stay away from an unholy man like him.
But instead, Jesus looks at Peter and says “Do not be afraid, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” And immediately Peter and John left their nets and followed him.
Going further away Jesus meets James and John and calls them out too. They left their father on the boat and followed Jesus.
Becoming a True Believer
When I read about Peter’s conversion that day I don’t see him making a sinner prayer as we do these days. I learned that it takes much more than just saying a prayer to become a true believer and a follower of Jesus. There is a true heart transformation that happens when we encounter Jesus in our lives.
The manifestation of that heart transformation is the realization of being an unworthy, sinful, wretched human being, which then leads us to embrace the grace of God manifested through his son Jesus.
When we refer to people as ‘believers’ and ‘followers of Jesus’ just because they said a prayer after you, it gives a totally different understanding of true heart transformation. We end up producing professing Christians who never really understood the gospel and never experienced the transforming power of the gospel.
And that is why there are several so-called Christians, as James describes as professing Christians but whose lifestyle is still worldly and tongue untamed.
Invitation to participate in the Kingdom work
The other things that stand out to me is the invitation of Jesus to participate in his glorious work of building His Kingdom from day one.
Isn’t that beautiful to hear that Jesus counts us trustworthy to be partnered with him the day we repent and respond to his call.
Jesus called them and they immediately left their nets, their businesses to follow him.
I’ve heard many preachers use this text and ask people to leave their jobs and businesses to follow Jesus into full-time ministries, however that is a misinterpretation of the text as it is taken out of context.
Imagine Jesus himself, the son of God, the creator God was on the earth and calling out these people. At that moment I couldn’t think of a different response than to throw away everything and follow him. I would have done that too.
In Mark 2:19 when the Pharisees were complaining to Jesus that his disciples were not fasting like the disciples of John, Jesus said, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast”
It was a different moment in history and now we are in a different moment and context. Jesus has sent us into the world, amongst our colleagues, amongst the unbelieving friends, to use our talents and skills to reach out to this dying world in every possible way and in every possible direction to preach the gospel.
For us, it may not be a literal throwing of our nets to follow Jesus but I believe there is a principle we learn from Peter, Andrew, James & John’s responses to Jesus’s call. And that is what I want to highlight to you from this passage, highlight the exchange that happens in our heart when we encounter Jesus
Signs of true heart transformation
1. Exchange of Affections
What we learn from the responses of these brothers is that all of a sudden their affections were changed. They once loved their life, their family, their business, their boats etc. But now we see how they were willing to let them go just because their affections for Christ and his Kingdom took prime importance in their lives.
In Luke 14:26 Jesus said “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, cannot be my disciple.”
For some, it’s an immediate change and for some, it gradually changes. But the point is a true heart transformation always leads us to love Christ more than anything and anyone in life.
And if that is not evident then we need to seriously reconsider whether we’ve really understood the true gospel and whether we’ve responded well.
2. Exchange of Dreams
I’m sure Peter, Andrew, James and John had dreams in life. Dreams of taking their business to the next level, Dreams of making it big, Dreams of moving to a new place and enjoying life to the fullest.
Not that these dreams are bad, but they exchanged them for a better one. And the better one was to pursue Gods dream; God’s dream to see people from all nations, tribes, language bow down and worship Him.
When we look at our lives lets ask what’s been our greatest pursuit especially after we became Christians. Is it still those worldly dreams of making it big for yourselves, achieve great wealth, pursuing fame and prosperity? Or is our heart equally or even more passionate about the Kingdom pursuit. There can’t be a greater fulfillment than to be able to be used as instruments in God’s hand and there can’t be a greater joy than to be able to live for the glory of God.
Let’s think about it seriously.
3. Exchange of Pursuit
All of a sudden these guys stopped pursuing the things they were doing until that moment and started pursuing Jesus and the things He asked them to do. They followed him, listened to him speaking and talking about the Kingdom, they obeyed his commandments and instructions to the point of death.
Let’s evaluate our lives as we read this encounter and think of areas where we’ve fallen short in pursuing Jesus, pursuing the heavenly things, pursuing righteousness, pursuing his words of instruction when we hear a sermon or a passage that convicts our hearts of our sins.
A genuine Jesus follower will always inhabit this quality. You will see him always pursuing the right things in life, whether he is working in a company, or involved in business, our leading a family, or bringing up his children.
Our pursuits determine what is more important to us in Life.
My prayer this morning for all of you is to truly understand what a genuine heart transformation looks like and that you may be able to exchange your affections, your dreams and your pursuits for a greater cause and that is to participate in the Father’s business of winning souls for which we were called the day we became believers.