Follow Me

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Last week we looked at the verse where Jesus likened the kingdom to a fishing net. There are all types of people in this net. And one day there is going to be a great separation where God will separate those that have followed Christ and those that haven’t. I told you that it is our job to participate in the spreading of the kingdom net, the gospel of Christ, as it gathers up as many as possible. God is going to do His part, and He wants all of us to be a part of the process. But it all starts with a divine invitation. Today, I want to look at what that invitation looks like.
If you have your Bibles go with me to the book of Mark. I want to read from chapter 1, beginning at verse 16.
Mark 1:16–20 NIV
16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him. 19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
Verse 16 sets up the story for us. In all reality, the Sea of Galilee is a large lake, It is 650 feet below sea level, about 150 feet deep and it is surrounded by hills. Fishing was the main industry for the approximately thirty towns that surrounded the Sea of Galilee during Jesus’ day. The word “beside” means alongside. Jesus was walking on the beach. He knew the fishermen for whom he was searching would be in this location.
Simon and Andrew were using a common method of fishing. They were fishing with nets. It was a circular net about 10 to 15 feet in diameter. They would cast this net into the sea. Then they would draw it up and the catch was hoisted into the boat. The method they were using was like gathering and harvesting. These men were strong and very busy as most of the fishermen were.
If you look at the Gospels you will find that this was not the first time that the two brothers had met Jesus. In John’s gospel we read that Andrew had been a disciple of John the Baptist who, when introduced to “the Lamb of God,” turned and followed Jesus. Andrew would then bring his brother Simon to Jesus. It is that this moment in John 1:42 that Jesus says...
John 1:42 NIV
42 And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).
These men understood and believed who Jesus was. Jesus arrived on the shore that day to change their lives forever. Jesus would give them eleven life-changing words that day. Those words are found in verse 17.
Come - Before Jesus can do anything in your life, you must begin to move in His direction. The whole of the Christian life involves coming to Him—culminating in that great day when you will live with Him forever.
Follow - When you start following Jesus, you do not know where you will go. But, one thing is for sure, you will go with Him. Better to go with Him than anyone else.
Me - Jesus does not call you to follow an ethical system, a religious ideal, or a code of restrictions. His invitation is personal. It calls for exclusivity—follow Him, and no other.
And - Jesus has more in mind for you than just being a follower. The “and” connects you to a larger meaning of your existence. Without the “and,” you are only responsible to follow, but He has bigger plans for you than you have for yourself.
I - Jesus proposes to take charge of your life. All of us have family and friends who influence us—but Jesus brings deep change. We know Simon and Andrew because they were known first to Jesus. He revolutionized their lives, as He also seeks to revolutionize yours.
Will - Jesus does not say “may.” There is no uncertainty in His voice. You can rely on His ability to transform you.
Make - From the Gospels, it is clear that the making didn’t happen all at once He may have to demolish some stuff in your life in order to make room for His splendid purposes, but you will love the makeover of His finished work in you.
You - That means you specifically! His call is not generic—it is personal. He knows your name and what you are doing with your life, just as He knew the names and occupations of His first disciples.
Fishers - Simon and Andrew, by trade, fished. That is the only natural ability ever noted of them. You probably are not a fisher, but you have some interests, some talents, Jesus will build on what you offer Him
Men - Is wealth your goal? The accumulate things. Is being smart your goal? Then gather facts. Is fame what you seek? Then find whatever brings you attention. but Jesus offers something far better than wealth, smartness, or fame. He calls you to people.
These eleven words in the English Text of Mark’s Gospel changed the destiny of Simon and Andrew. They dropped everything at once and followed Jesus.
COME FOLLOW ME AND I WILL MAKE YOU FISHERS OF MEN! Eleven words that changed their life and they will change your life.
But our story doesn’t stop there. Look at verse 18.
Mark 1:18 NIV
18 At once they left their nets and followed him.
They knew that the judgment was coming; they had to respond at once. Their lives had changed; their allegiance was now to their teacher.

Every great person has first learned how to obey, whom to obey, and when to obey. - William A. Ward

But Jesus was done yet, collecting fishermen. Look at verse 19 again.
Mark 1:19 NIV
19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets.
Here was another pair of brothers, James and John. Luke tells us in chapter 5 that they were Simon Peter’s partners. These men were sitting in their boat mending their nets. The weight of a good catch of fish and the constant strain on the nets certainly meant that the fishermen had to spend a lot of time keeping their nets repaired and in good shape. Holes had to be mended in preparation for the next night’s fishing.
John had met Jesus at the same time that Andrew did. But, we have no record of James previously meeting Jesus, but he probably knew about Jesus from his brother. So, James and John were ready for the call as well. Verse 20 says...
Mark 1:20 NIV
20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
Jesus had made such a great impression on these men that they left everything behind and followed without hesitation.
The invitation of Christ is a simple one. It’s not flashy, it’s not padded in promises of the good life, and it’s definitely not the kind of compelling sales pitch that you’d normally think would elicit the levels of response that we see throughout Jesus’ life. The invitation is simple and the invitation is extended to you. Jesus says to us, “Come follow Me.”
How many of you have ever had some good news to share? What do we do? We share it with anyone who will listen.
The gospel means, “good news.” All of us have good news to share everyday. The gospel is inviting by nature because “good news” is always worth sharing.
This is a great reminder for us as we spread the kingdom net to others. If we’ll share pictures of our kids with strangers on airplanes, then why wouldn’t we also share the good news of Christ with them as well?
These four men knew the urgency of Christ’s invitation. In fact, they literally walked off their jobs. Can you imagine walking out of your job to answer the call of Christ? For some of us, we understand this, we have left our jobs to pursue ministry. For most of you this is an example, an ideal, of what it can look like to exercise immediate faith and obedience.
Most of you today have already made a decision to follow Christ. That is the easy part. Now, Jesus is asking you to go a step further. He wants you to drop your nets, get out of the boat, and find someone else in this kingdom net that needs to know the good news.
Don’t let there be any delay. Don’t let there be any hesitation. The time is now and you must obey him immediately and tell someone the good news that Jesus has come to save the person that is far from Jesus and doomed for all eternity. You may be the only person they will listen to so don’t you delay, but go immediately. The journey to follow Jesus is the greatest, and most amazing and challenging journey that any of us will ever take.
No one ever said following Jesus would be easy. Asking Jesus to be your Savior is the easy part, but taking that next step and being a disciple of Jesus is the challenge. But Jesus is calling all of us. We can no longer let any moment pass us by. If we have an opportunity to share Jesus with someone then we must do that.
I want to close this morning by telling you a story. The story is called “The Parable of the Fishless Fishermen Fellowship.”

The Parable of the Fishless Fishermen

Fellowship. They were surrounded by streams and lakes full of hungry fish. They met regularly to discuss the call to fish, the abundance of fish, and the thrill of catching fish. They got excited about fishing!

Someone suggested that they needed a philosophy of fishing, so they carefully defined and redefined fishing, and the purpose of fishing. They developed fishing strategies and tactics. Then they realized that they had been going at it backwards. They had approached fishing from the point of view of the fisherman, and not from the point of view of the fish. How do fish view the world? How does the fisherman appear to the fish? What do fish eat, and when? These are all good things to know. So they began research studies, and attended conferences on fishing. Some traveled to faraway places to study different kinds of fish with different habits. Some got doctorates in fishology. But no one had yet gone fishing.

So a committee was formed to send out fishermen. As prospective fishing places outnumbered fishermen, the committee needed to determine priorities. A priority list of fishing places was posted on bulletin boards in all of the fellowship halls. But still, no one was fishing. A survey was launched to find out why. Most did not answer the survey, but from those who did, it was discovered that some felt called to study fish, a few to furnish fishing equipment, and several to go around encouraging the fishermen. What with meetings, conferences, and seminars, they just simply didn’t have time to fish.

Now, Jake was a newcomer to the Fisherman’s Fellowship. After one stirring meeting of the Fellowship, he went fishing and caught a large fish. At the next meeting, he told his story and was honored for his catch. He was told that he had a special “gift of fishing.” He was then scheduled to speak at all the Fellowship chapters and tell how he did it.

With all the speaking invitations and his election to the board of directors of the Fisherman’s Fellowship, Jake no longer had time to go fishing. But soon he began to feel restless and empty. He longed to feel the tug on the line once again. So he cut the speaking, he resigned from the board, and he said to a friend, “Let’s go fishing.” They did, just the two of them, and they caught fish. The members of the Fisherman’s Fellowship were many, the fish were plentiful, but the fishers were few!


We can talk about reaching the lost all we want until we are blue in the face. We can come up with strategies on how to do it. We can raise money so that we have enough resources to do it. We can go to all the conferences and get all the training we need. But at some point we got to start winning the lost. It is time to answer the call. Stop standing on the sidelines and thinking of ways to do it. Take what you know and go win someone to Jesus. Everyone has a different way to do. Find the way that works for you and do it.
Let’s Pray!
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