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.” 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.
I used to own a car that had a broken clock for a while. Every morning when I would get in the car, the clock would be reset to a random time that was never the same, yet always wrong. Sometimes it would tell me I was in England, while other times it would tell me I was in Australia, but it never would tell me I was in Dallas. Unless I deliberately took the time to reset the clock to the correct time, it would cause confusion for me.
If you’re like me, this season has caused confusion for you. Whether it’s a changed routine, uncertainty about the future, sad stories on the news seemingly every day, or cancelled plans, there are a lot of elements of this season that has knocked me off balance.
Like the concept of that car clock needing to be reset every morning to reflect the true time, Mark 1:17 has been a verse that has helped me “reset the clock of my heart” again every morning to reflect what is true. It is easy for our hearts to be swayed by the latest news, the uncertainty of the future, or the loudness of the moment (“the tyranny of the noise” as I’ve been calling it), but these things do not necessarily line up with timeless truth and unchanging gospel realities.
Mark 1:17 is in the context of the paragraph of Mark 1:16-20, in which Jesus calls his first disciples to follow him. This story, also recorded in Matthew 4:18-22, Luke 5:1-11, and John 1:35-51, is one of my favorite stories in the Bible because it conveys the essence of discipleship. A disciple is simply a learner, so everyone is a disciple of something. In Mark 1:17, Jesus offers a simple, yet powerful and life-changing call to His future disciples when He says, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Commentators note that the content of this call applies to present day disciples as well. In this verse, I see two unchanging things that reset my heart daily during a confusing season with ever-changing circumstances:
(1) “Follow Me”: Whatever is going on in my life or in the country, I know one thing is for sure: Jesus wants my first concern every day to be His disciple. This is not a command to boring religion, but an invitation to fullness of life. Being a disciple of Jesus starts by being with Him and making His voice is the first voice I listen to and the voice I should stay in tune with diligently all day long. It is amazing the clarity that I experience when I begin the day from these two words, and how God consistently answers this prayer: “Lord, what does it look like to follow You today?”
(2) “I will make you become fishers of men”: There are a lot of things that I have no power to change, but one thing I know that I am called to participate in is impacting a few people’s lives and helping them take their next step with Jesus. I do not have the ability to change the country, but I do have the ability to disciple a few people at a time. It is interesting that success for Jesus was not about building big crowds but about building into people’s lives, and this should challenge the American church today. Making disciples is not just for people who work for churches; it’s for all Christians. Someone once told me that discipling people is just intentionally spending time with them in a relationship while having on your mind what is on the mind of Christ. Do you have a few people in your life who you are discipling? If not, what would it look like to make disciples of Jesus today? Like the point above, it is amazing how God answers this prayer every day: “Lord, who do you want me to love, serve, care about, and point to Jesus today and in this season?”
The disciples’ radical response is that “immediately they left their nets and followed Him” (Mark 1:18). How can we possibly live with that kind of reckless abandon and trust today when it might cause us to give up our own plans and even not know where we are being led? When we look at the Gospel, we see that in humility and love, Jesus Himself left the comfort of His Father’s throne to rescue us. As we reset our hearts with the Gospel, we will find it a joy to embrace the call to follow Him and to invite others into that joy. In a season of confusion, the clarity of this unchanging call is deeply comforting.
He left His Father's throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam's helpless race;
'Tis mercy all, immense and free;
For, O my God, it found out me.
Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quick'ning ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth and followed Thee.