"Meanderings in Mark"
Series on Mark, Lesson 4

The Call of Four Fishermen

Text: Mark 1:17 (KJV) And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.

Theme: Jesus' call to follow was a call to total commitment.


There were other events surrounding the call of these four fishermen that are not mentioned by Mark. Notice John 1:35-43 (READ). QUESTION - These accounts seem to be contradictory. Can you explain the discrepancy? ANSWER - There is a gap in Mark. The events of John 1 fit in between Mark 1:13 and Mark 1:14. These men had heard Jesus and seen Jesus before He called them here.

Now they were being summoned to give their all to Him. They did not hesitate, but rather, "forsook their nets, and followed Him."

In the call of these four fishermen, (Peter, Andrew, James, and John) we learn much about the call of God upon our own lives. For the fact is that Jesus Christ does call you:

As we study this passage, be asking God what He is calling you to.

I. Who Were Called?

  • QUESTION - What kind of person did (does) Jesus call?

    A. Ordinary People

  • 1 Cor 1:26-29 (KJV) For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

    1. There have been a few standouts.

  • QUESTION - Can you think of some examples of people who were extraordinary when Jesus called them? Beyond the norm? Special in some way? Who?

    ILLUS. - Paul is good example. (Hebrew of Hebrews, wealthy, Roman citizen by birth, trained by Gamaliel, a Pharisee)

  • 2. Mostly common folk were called.

  • QUESTION - Can you think of some examples of "common folks" Jesus called? Why did He seem to concentrate on and prefer "common folk?"

    QUOTE - "God must love common people - He made so many of them." Abraham Lincoln

  • B. Fishermen

  • QUESTION - What was significant about this occupation? What parallels existed between fishing and the job Jesus was calling them to?

    1. Fishermen must go where the fish are.

  • Mat 28:19-20 (KJV) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

    Mark 16:15 (KJV) And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

  • 2. Fishermen must use various tools of the trade.

  • 1 Cor 9:22 (KJV) To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
  • 3. Fishermen must be constantly learning about their prey.

  • 2 Tim 2:15 (KJV) Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
  • 4. Fishermen must be patient.

  • Gal 6:9 (KJV) And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
  • 5. Fishermen must keep their mind on their goal.

  • Rom 10:1 (KJV) Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
  • II. When Were They Called?

  • QUESTION - At what time in their lives were these 4 men called?

    QUESTION - What were they doing when they received the call?

    QUESTION - What is significant about these things?

    A. They were called while in the midst of their normal routine.

  • QUESTION - Does God always call a person in church? Where else might He call you?

    1. God doesn't always call you in church.

  • ILLUS. - I was called to salvation and service in church, but it doesn't happen that way for everybody.
  • 2. Many are called (like these 4) during their normal work-a-day routine.

  • ILLUS. Rob Caulkins (friend of mine) was saved while on his daily fitness run across a field.

    ILLUS. Paul was saved while riding down the road on a horse.

    QUESTION - How, then, should we live our lives to ensure we don't miss the call of God?

  • 3. We should just trust Christ and get on with our lives. (i.e. continue with our normal routine)

  • ILLUS. Another pastor friend of mine, when between churches, was asked what he was doing to seek and find God's will concerning a church. His response was, "God knows my address." He meant that he trusted Christ to call him when He was ready, and he was going to continue working his normal routine until then.
  • B. They were called when they were busy.

  • 1. Saul was seeking his father's donkeys when he was called.

    2. David was keeping his father's sheep when he was called.

    3. Amos was a herdsman in Tekoa when he was called.

    4. Matthew was collecting taxes when he was called.

    5. Moses was keeping Jethro's flock when he was called.

    6. Gideon was working at the threshing floor when he was called.

    7. Elisha was "pouring water on the hands of Elisha" (i.e. acting as his assistant) when he was called.

    8. Peter, Andrew, James, and John were busy plying their trade as fishermen when they were called.

  • "The Busy Man"

    If you want to get a favor done by some obliging friend,

    And want a promise, safe and sure, on which you may depend,

    Don't go to him who always has much leisure time to plan;

    But if you want your favor done, just as the busy man.

    The man with leisure never has a moment he can spare,

    He's always 'putting off' until his friends are in despair.

    But he whose every waking hour is crowded full of work,

    Forgets the art of wasting time, he cannot stop to shirk.

    So when you want a favor done and want it right away,

    Go to the man who constantly works twenty hours a day.

    He'll find a moment sure, somewhere, that has no other use,

    And fix you while the idle man is framing an excuse."

    QUESTION - If these things are true (i.e. that Jesus calls during normal work-a-day routine, and that Jesus calls busy people), how then should we live in order to make sure we hear Him when He calls? (ANSWER - Like my pastor friend, we should just continue on with our lives, trusting that "He knows my address.")

  • III. What Were They Called To?

  • QUESTION - What were Peter, Andrew, James, and John called to? What was this call going to demand of them?

    A. They were called to commitment.

  • 1. "Follow" means, "commit to me."
  • NOTE - Follow = AKOLOUTHEO, which means, "to follow as a disciple", a word that implies personal adherence and association. It is used only in the gospels, 77 times of "following Christ" and only once otherwise.
  • 2. Jesus repeatedly stressed commitment.

  • READ Luke 14:25-33

    John 6:53 (KJV) Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

    Mat 16:24 (KJV) Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

    QUESTION - What is the key thought in all of the above passages? (ANSWER - Commitment)

    QUESTION - How does this apply to us today? How do we "Leave our fathers and mothers" today? What does that mean? How do we "eat the flesh of the Son of man" today? How do we "deny ourselves and take up our cross" today?

  • 3. Many today want the opposite of commitment.

  • ILLUS. Someone once wrote to David Livingstone, great missionary to Africa, "Have you found a good road to where you are? If so, we want to know how to send other men to join you." Livingstone wrote back and replied, "If you have men who will only come if they know there is a good road, I don't want them. I want men strong and courageous, who will come if there is no road at all!"

    2 Sam 24:24 (KJV) And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

    ILLUS. This past week we've been watching the Wimbledon tennis championships in England. There have been some amazing examples of commitment, as players continued to battle to the end, even though seemingly beaten.

  • B. They were called to service.

  • QUESTION - Can a person be truly happy / fulfilled if he/she has nothing to do?

    1. Man needs something to do.

    2. Heaven will not be "cloud-sitting."

  • ILLUS. Adam had a task to fulfill, a job to do.

    ILLUS. Paul called his life "laboring night and day."

    ILLUS. Peter, Andrew, James, and John were given a job from day one!

  • IV. How Were They Called?

  • QUESTION - How were they called? What was the method Jesus used in calling them?

    QUESTION - Who were they called by?

    QUESTION - What were they called to?

    A. They were called BY Christ.

  • (Jesus does the seeking.)

    1. He came to us.

  • Luke 19:10 (KJV) For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
  • 2. He draws us to Him.

  • John 12:32 (KJV) And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
  • 3. He chooses us for service.

  • Eph 2:10 (KJV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

    NOTE - Our call to salvation is ENTIRELY a work of Christ. Our call to service is also ENTIRELY a work of Christ.

  • 4. So it was with these four.

  • B. They were called TO Christ.

  • John 12:32 (KJV) And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

    ILLUS. William Barclay, in his commentary on Mark, says, "He said, 'Follow me!' It all began with that tug on the heart which begets the unshakable loyalty. This is not to say that there are none who think themselves into Christianity; but for most of us following Christ is like falling in love. It has been said that 'we admire people for reasons, we love them without reasons.' The thing happens just because they are they and we are we. In by far the greatest number of cases a man follows Jesus Christ not because of anything that Jesus said but because of everything that Jesus is."

  • Conclusion:

    Jesus called four men.

    Still He called… and when they answered, they found Him to be everything that He said He would be.

    Jesus calls us, today. Jesus calls you, today.

    Still, He calls…

  • QUESTION - Let's be practical now. What does Jesus call the Friendship Class to today?

    QUESTION - He called Peter, Andrew, James and John to commitment. Does he want commitment from the Friendship Class today? How? What commitment does He want?

    QUESTION - He called Peter, Andrew, James and John to service. What service does he want from the Friendship Class today?

    QUESTION - He called Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow Him. How can the Friendship Class answer that call today?

  • Jesus calls us. Let us be sure to answer the call.

    Please direct questions, comments, and submissions to William E. Johnson
    Copyright 1997 William E. Johnson.