Good morning and welcome to The E-quip Devotion. OK, today’s devotion is a little bit long but I want you to get the whole idea of it. I have been studying about Jesus and the making of His disciples. Why did He choose who He did? When did He start training them? Are we to follow His example of making disciples? What do we learn from the disciples? And on and on it goes. Anyway, Lloyd Ogilvie is my favorite commentary author and here (below) is what he says about Mark 1:16-20 where I was reading today. Think about it and feel free to post your comments. Enjoy!!!
Jesus cannot accomplish His mission alone. He needs friends whom He can trust, disciples whom He can teach, and coworkers who will share His task. So, after publicly announcing the Good News, He starts selecting good men.
What are the qualifications that He seeks in Simon, Andrew, James, and John as He walks among the fishing boats along the Sea of Galilee? Jesus calls, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17) as the basis for selecting His staff. Those who answer are asked to be trustworthy, teachable, and task-oriented.
“Follow Me” is a test of trust. Along the line of trust flows loyalty, confidence, and openness. If that line is cut or frayed, all other relationships deteriorate. Jesus needs this same trust in the men whom He chooses. Ironically, He calls Peter first, and it is Peter who will break the line of loyalty when He denies His Lord. In that tragic moment, Jesus will look at him as if to say, “Peter, I trusted you.” One look speaks a thousand words. Peter goes out and weeps bitterly. Loyalty is the first qualification for discipleship.
Jesus also chooses teachable men. When He calls, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men,” He promises a lifelong learning and growth process. Not by accident, He chooses unschooled and unsophisticated fishermen. What a miserable start for world evangelization. We must never forget that Jesus knows what He is doing. He wants teachable men without intellectual preconceptions or cultural mindsets that will be insurmountable barriers to truth.
I am a self-made tennis player, modestly successful in a game built upon bad habits. A tennis lesson destroys me because I begin trading confidence in bad strokes for hesitation with good strokes. Of all the students of tennis, I am the worst kind because I must unlearn bad habits before I can stamp in the good ones. My twelve-year-old son is just the opposite. With nothing to unlearn, he strokes the ball better after three lessons than I do after thirty years. Without a doubt, he will be the first of my sons to beat me. The learning principle is obvious. It is easier to learn than it is to unlearn. Jesus chooses men who have little to unlearn. Like hungry fledglings with their mouths wide open, they have nothing to hinder the process of becoming “fishers of men.” Teachability is second only to trust.
Jesus also wants task-oriented men. “I will make you become fishers of men,” speaks volumes about the task to which the disciples are called and the results that can be expected. Jesus knows the skills that are required to catch fish, and He does not hesitate to liken them to the skills of catching men. Fishing of both kinds is a science and an art. Without the discipline of learned skills and the intuition of natural gifts, the net will come up empty. For His disciples, Jesus wants men who have learned the science and sensed the art of fishing. Why? He needs men who are ready to live with the consequences of their work. To invoke the language of today, Jesus needs men who live by the “bottom line.” Fishermen fit the definition. If they don’t get a catch, they starve; but if they exercise the discipline of scientists and the sensitivity of artists, their nets come up full.
A leader never calls followers to a one-way commitment. The leader-follower relationship is a covenant. When Jesus calls, “Follow Me” (Mark 1:17), He does not presume that He is the Master with the expectations all on the side of the disciples. With equal force, He is saying, “If I can trust you to follow, you can trust Me to lead.” He makes a commitment to be their model. Jesus also agrees to be the mentor of teachable men. He commits Himself to all of the pains and all of the pleasures of being a teacher, watching men who are sometimes sharp and sometimes dull, sometimes growing by leaps and sometimes regressing by bounds, sometimes succeeding, but more often than not, failing in order to try again. By choosing task-oriented men, Jesus commits Himself to be the manager of their tasks. A manager is like the conductor of an orchestra, he must know the limits and the potential of his players. If he pushes them beyond their limits, they will falter in frustration. If he fails to stretch them to their potential, they will fail to grow. Someplace in between is the delicate balance where the leader makes the difference. Jesus has uncanny skill at reading the readiness of His disciples for service. Jesus makes a commitment to bring along those whom He calls at a pace equal to their skills until they will qualify as “fishers of men.”
What is the “flair factor” that separates Simon, Andrew, James, and John from all of the other fishermen who hear Jesus call? It is the ability to make a clean and firm decision. In each case, Mark invokes his favorite word, “immediately,” to describe the fishermen’s response to Jesus’ call. “Immediately they left their nets” (Mark 1:18), “and immediately … they left their father” (Mark 1:20), assures us that the men whom Jesus chooses for his disciples are men who can make decisions.
Jesus still calls for trustworthy, teachable, and task-oriented persons to be His disciples. In turn, He promises to be our model, our mentor, and our manager. The covenant is the secret for winning the world.