December 4, 2017
“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.” Mark 1:17-18
The call of Advent is the call to be ready for the Second Coming of Jesus. Every Sunday we proclaim the heart of our faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. Advent simply brings that third clause into bold focus. Christ will come again. As we make our way through the readings of this season, we would do well to ask ourselves if we are ready to stand before Him and how we can use this season to be better prepared to do so.
Mark’s gospel moves quickly to the call of discipleship. The singular call to every one of us who call Jesus Savior and Lord is simply this: follow me. To be a disciple of Jesus is to follow Jesus, and discipleship is simply the life of following Jesus.
Perhaps the question this passage raises is this: what did Andrew and Peter understand Jesus to be saying when He called them to follow?
It is important to note at this point that Peter and Andrew have most likely heard Jesus speak and teach already. They are aware of His radical and urgent message: the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the gospel. As this message fell upon their ears, it was the proclamation that the whole of history was being forever changed. This gospel, literally this good news, was the declaration that something incredibly good, something that changes everything, has happened. But to Peter and Andrew, indeed to any Jew, it was not only the message that everything had changed, but that it had done so in fulfillment of God’s promises through the prophets and that more promises were yet to be fulfilled. God is faithful to keep His promises in the past, the present, and in the future.
So when Jesus invited these first disciples to follow Him, they heard an invitation to follow the true Rabbi into the radically new life of the long promised Kingdom of God.
And what is the result of following Jesus? First, we will join in His Kingdom work. The concept of “fishers of men” is more than a cute play on words arising out of the situation at hand. In prophetic imagery, God Himself is the fisher of men separating those who belong to Him from those who reject Him. Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom will divide people. There are those who will accept Him as Lord and Savior and those who will refuse to do so. It is no surprise that wherever Jesus went, people had strong reactions to Him, both for and against. To be fishers of men, then, is to join in Jesus’ work of proclaiming and demonstrating the Kingdom.
But notice the exact phrasing of Jesus: I will make you become. Jesus invites them into a process where He will make them like Himself. Jesus is the fisher of men, and He will make His followers become fishers of men. What an incredible invitation! To follow Jesus as a disciple is to embark upon a lifelong journey of being transformed to become like Him and to join in His Kingdom work!
But in order to get there, we must, like Peter and Andrew, drop our nets. Their nets were literally their lives – their family work. But we could also more broadly understand them as those things that catch and snare us and keep us from following Jesus.
As Advent begins, Jesus brings us back to the singular call upon our lives: follow me. We are invited, then, to consider the quality of our following, the health of our discipleship. Are we following in a way that leads us deeper into Jesus’ work and our own transformation? What nets might we need to drop to further His work in our lives?