This story is the moment that Jesus began assembling a team for his ministry. Walking beside the lake, he called four fishermen to follow him. They did so, and their lives were never the same again.
This encounter was not the first time they had met Jesus. We learn in other passages (e.g. John 1:35-42) that they had previously been disciples of John the Baptist, who had spoken regularly about Jesus and had introduced Andrew and Simon to him. But this was a significant moment nonetheless. Now was the time to nail their colours to the mast, and join him on mission. This is a choice that all of us need to make at some point. There is nothing wrong with taking time to explore spiritual questions and learn about Jesus, but the moment comes where a decision of commitment is needed, and those words ‘follow me’ are as much an invitation to us as they were to them.
We should notice how costly this was for them. It meant leaving their nets, and being willing to lay down their jobs and move away from their family business. In part, this was a very practical thing. Jesus would be travelling to all the towns and villages preaching the gospel and healing the sick. It would not be possible to join him for this without laying those nets down. It is not necessarily the case that all subsequent followers will be called to lay down the same things (jobs, proximity to family, etc.), but this story does show us that being a disciple of Jesus involves being ready to lay down whatever gets in the way of following him.
The invitation that Jesus extended to these fishermen was not just to be spectators while he ministered, but to be involved themselves. He promised to make them ‘fishers of men’. He was communicating in a way that made sense to where they were at (as he does to us all), but the essence is that he wanted to train them to share in his mission and give them opportunities to see people won to God. As disciples, this is the mission that we have been called into as well, and this passage is an invitation to us to step into the same kind of life-changing encounter that these fishermen had experienced.
Some Key Points:
- Jesus invites people to make a choice to follow him
- He is calling us to join him on mission and see people won for God.
- Accepting this invitation can be costly and involves laying down whatever gets in the way.
- Invitation to Follow – It would be a good moment to invite people to make a choice to follow Jesus.
- Call to Mission – Jesus invited these first followers into his mission. Ask people to think about who is around them and how they can reach them for God.
- Challenge to Lay Things Down – What things are the equivalent of the nets for us? They may be good things in themselves, but if they get in the way of following Jesus then we need to lay them down.