September 1, 2019
Scripture: Mark 1:14-20
This passage opens with Jesus’ message that He preached. Jesus preached that He was the Son of God, the promised Messiah of the Old Testament and that in light of His coming people needed to repent and believe in Him. This is the gospel: people have a sin problem and the salvation from the sin problem is to repent and believe on Jesus as Savior and Lord.
After Jesus begins teaching the gospel message, He calls disciples to follow Him that He may teach them the gospel and enable them to continue teaching the message after Him. When he calls Andrew and Peter Jesus tells them that He will make them fishers of men. Fishers of men was a term that had been in use for hundreds of years by philosophers. It referred to the art of teaching one’s philosophy to others and convincing them to accept and follow the teaching. This is the phrase Jesus presents to professional fishermen when He calls them to be His disciples.
Fishers of men means to evangelize. Evangelism is to reach people with the truth of the gospel and offer them the true way of salvation. The disciples were called to evangelize and we are called today to evangelize. We are to seek out people and share the gospel to them so they may know that God loves them and desires a relationship with them. We are supposed to be fishers of men.
I enjoy fishing when have the chance; all kinds of fishing. There are several aspects of fishing that can teach us about how to evangelize. The first lesson is the key to catching fish. The key to catch fish is you actually have to go and fish. You will never catch fish in your living room. You have to make the effort to go to the water and start fishing, otherwise you will never catch any fish. The same is true for evangelism. If people are going to become saved, they must first hear the gospel, if they are going to hear the gospel then someone must tell the gospel to them. We are not going to see lives changed and transformed if we do not make the effort to share the gospel to them. We have to evangelize!
Another lesson from fishing is that to successfully catch fish you must present your hook with a presentation appropriate for your target species. Each species of fish has its own preferences. Catfish can be caught on stink baits, crappie can be caught by dropping jigs, bass can be caught on crank baits, trout are caught using flies, redfish are caught with shrimp on popping corks. You choose your style of fishing to match the species you want to catch. The proper presentation is vital. Of course while the presentation changes from species to species there is one constant: the hook. The hook is the essential piece in catching fish. The proper presentation draws the fish in to bite onto the hook. Without the hook a fish will take the bait of the presentation and swim away without being caught. When we evangelize we need to adapt our presentation to our audience. As with fishing, evangelism has a constant: the gospel. The gospel never changes: people are sinners separated from a loving God, God sent Jesus to sacrifice Himself on the cross to the price for people’s sin, Jesus resurrected after His death, a person can be saved if they will repent from sin and call upon Jesus as Lord and Savior. The gospel never changes in our presentation as we evangelize. However, our means of delivering the gospel message needs to be appropriate for the person we are trying to reach. For example, you might converse with a teenager differently than you would someone in their 60’s because their lives are at different stages. You might converse in one manner with someone who has been in a Christian church but never been saved and another manner with someone who was raised in a non-Christian faith, and yet another manner to someone who has never been in church. Jesus did this, Jesus met the woman at the well and spoke about the Samaritan heritage and her own life as He explained the gospel, Jesus had a different conversation when he spoke to Nicodemus who was a Jewish teacher, and still again differently to Zacchaeus who was a tax collector that had been dealing with people unfairly. Jesus made His message relevant to the person who spoke to when He shared the truth of the gospel. We must do the same as we evangelize.
A third key to successful fishing is pay attention while you fish. If you don’t watch your cork, if you don’t keep your finger on the line you will miss the sign that tells you a fish in on and the fish will get away without being caught. We must do this with people as we evangelize. When you share the gospel with people they will probably have questions, we need to be attentive to their questions and understand what they are wanting to know. Too many Christians try to present the gospel quickly to people and then leave them. It may require us to listen to them and pay attention to their life and needs to see what is holding them back from accepting the gospel. Then we need to answer those questions. If we don’t pay attention to the person’s questions they may feel like we do not truly care for them or we may not ever give them the answers that would make them comfortable considering the gospel. People’s lives also show signs of when the timing is right to follow up on a gospel conversation and we should pay attention to those as well.
Another, final key to fishing is to reel the fish in. The fish can bite the hook and becomes hooked but if we never reel the line in and never lift the fish into the boat or onto shore it won’t be caught. When we evangelize we must make sure the people we are sharing with know they must make a decision to follow God for themselves, not choosing is to stay separated from God and condemned. The day of salvation is today, people must know they have a decision to make. We cannot save people, only God does that, but we must let people know the importance of choosing now.
We are called to be fishers of men, to reach people and share the love of God with them. Let’s get busying fishing!
Scripture: John 13:1-17
Tonight we will be looking at the start of the upper room discourse Jesus has with His disciples the day before He would be crucified. Last week we looked at the conclusion of this discourse in John 16:33, in which Jesus tells us we will have tribulations in life but we can face life with peace and courage. The reason we can have this peace and courage is the teaching Jesus shared with the disciples and leaves for us in chapters 13-16.
The occasion for the gathering is the Passover Meal, an annual memorial in which the Jewish people celebrated God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. Luke chapter 22 provides us with details of what happens in the upper room. Luke 22:24 tells us as the disciples gathered together in the upper room they argued over which one of them would be greatest in God’s Kingdom. Why were they arguing this and why at this time? Pride is why they were arguing over this and they had been arguing over this for some time. But why at this time? Let’s consider what has happened in the three years the disciples have been following Jesus with special attention to the prior week. For the last three years the disciples have come to believe Jesus is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. The Messiah was hoped for by all Jews to come and restore the Israelite Kingdom. They hoped for the Messiah to come and overthrow the Roman occupancy and return Israel to glory. The disciples believe this and certainly they must have hoped Jesus would restore Israel. And for three years they have seen Jesus be opposed by Jewish authorities even to the point of attempts to arrest or kill Jesus. During these years Jesus has preached that His time has come but His hour has not yet come. This message revealed that Jesus was the Messiah and the time for His presence was now, but with the hour not ready the ultimate work of the Messiah was not ready yet. This has been the message for three years. Then we come to the current week covered in John 12. Jesus enters Jerusalem for the Passover and is met by a crowd of adoring people who bring palm leaves to wave and lay in the road in front of Jesus. This triumphant entry had to excite the disciples. Jesus cleanses the temple and denounces the Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees before the people. All the signs seem to point that a tide was turning for the disciples. And then Jesus states in chapter 12:23 that the hour has now come. The disciples enter the upper room thinking the time has finally come for the long awaited Messiah to overcome their enemies and restore Israel. And so they begin to position themselves in the kingdom hierarchy.
Of course we know what was to happen, Jesus would be arrested and crucified. Jesus knew this too. Jesus knew the danger of the disciples thinking. All their hopes, dream, self-worth placed in obtaining a position in this new kingdom, but in reality, their dream would not happen. Can you imagine the crushing blow this must deliver to the disciples. Jesus knew it and He cared for them, Jesus wanted them to know that even if their dream would disappear that they could still have courage and peace. Jesus wants the same for us. We don’t always control our future, more often than not it probably surprises us sometimes for good and sometimes for worse. We can learn from what Jesus does next and the example He gives so we can live the life He wants for us.
In the midst of their arguing, Jesus rises, gathers a basin of water and starts washing their feet. This is a tremendous act. Washing feet was the work of a slave and was under no circumstances the work of a rabbi. This is why Peter reacts so passionately. But Jesus was teaching the disciples and us in His example. Rather than place our hopes and dreams and our self-worth in the potential achievements of the future whether it be wealth, knowledge, position, prestige, fame, success, family or anything else we should rather base our life on serving others to share God’s love and better people’s lives. If we are focused on serving others and doing God’s will then if life gives us a curveball or robs us from our planned future then we will not lose our happiness because our happiness was resting on our service to others for God’s glory. This is why in verse 17 Jesus tells us that we will be happy if we do this thing – service. Let’s commit to lives of service and experience the happiness Jesus says is available and now the peace and courage He wants us to have.
If we can be of help in some way to you, please let us know.
In Christ’s Love,