Mark 1:19

I. ORDINARY WORK OF MEN AND THE EXTRAORDINARY ARE (HERE) PUT IN THE SAME LINE. It is no small presumption in favor of Christ's divinity that he chose common men - workmen - for his intimate disciples. What link could there be between the transcendent task of the apostleship and that mean calling in which they were engaged? He alone saw a connection, and not a merely fanciful one. He indicated it and proceeded upon it. The idea was familiar to the prophets (e.g. ver. 16:16), and to Greek literature (as in the 'Dialogues of Lucian,' etc.), but not in the same application. The resemblance he suggested is broad and deep. It was while they were working that he called them. What a practical, spiritual gain for all toilers is this revelation!

II. THEY ARE SHARPLY DISTINGUISHED AND ABSOLUTELY SEPARATED. As connected by analogy, it is implied that they are separated in fact. Not by confounding the sacred with the secular calling is either benefited. That they are not the same is shown by:

1. A difference of object. "For men." The means must therefore be different, and the entire method. Luke uses a word meaning "to catch alive? The fishers of men were not to snare them, but to win them to something worthy of them; and not for selfish ends, but through love and Divine good will. So interpreted, how grand is this vocation!

2. A distinct call. Christ asks - bids them "come after him. Were there any previous inner witnessings which this endorsed and strengthened? This call was no simply picturesque or accidental occurrence; it was an essential condition of their assumption of apostolic service. The difference between their new duties and their old ones was so profound that only a distinct inward voice could warrant the transition from the one to the other. Christ spoke to the heart as well as to the ear, and his word was a determining one.

3. Altered circumstances. He would take them away for a time from the associations of the fish-net. They would have to cease looking at life as "making a living." As God's workmen, they would be his dependents. They would have to live by faith, that they might walk by faith.

4. Special preparation. "I will make." What they had done or learned would not qualify them for what they were to do. He alone could teach them the new craft; and only as they drank in his spirit could they hope to succeed in it.

III. To PASS FROM THE ONE TO THE OTHER IS ONLY POSSIBLE THROUGH OBEDIENCE, SELF-SACRIFICE, AND CLOSER FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST. Even as he calls them their preparation and discipline commence. It was a sharp trial, but salutary and wise.

1. Obedience. They were to go at once if at all, without question, and finally.

2. Self-sacrifice. This was begun by "leaving all and following" Christ, as Peter phrased it. The will of the flesh, "the will to live," the whole self-life, - had to be renounced.

3. But their life would be a fellowship with the Master. This would compensate for every toil and trial. But it would also necessitate continual exercise of sympathy, spiritual insight, and resolute fidelity. - M.

And when He had gone a little farther thence, He saw James.
I. Our first question is, WHAT MANNER OF MEN WERE JAMES AND JOHN WHEN JESUS SUMMONED THEM TO HIS SERVICE? Is it not suggested that they were free from gross vices; open-eyed to truth and righteousness? Converted profligates have rendered eminent service in the kingdom of God; yet the best achievements have usually come from men who have not saturated their natures with vicious indulgences. Secular experience had helped to make the brothers fit for Christ's call. The stormy wind was fulfilling Christ's word, and He was coming to His men walking on the waves of the sea. The qualities of character produced by toil upon the deep were caught up and transfigured in the fulfilment of apostolic tasks. We are shaped by circumstances which look commonplace for future usefulness. James and John had reason to be thankful for helpful communion with others. Their parents must have been a worthy couple, and their companions, Peter and Andrew, were like-minded with themselves. Their thoughts went beyond boats and nets. Their lives looked upward. To the youthful fishermen Christ had already revealed Himself. His spell was on their hearts.

II. THE CALL FOR WHICH SUCH VARIED PREPARATIONS HAD BEEN MADE WAS HEARD IN DUE COURSE — "He called them," etc. Though we take it as a matter of course that James and John should make a prompt response, there was the possibility of reluctance and bargaining. Jonah fled. Prompt be our obedience. The call that was heeded involved a purifying fellowship. The men who were named "Boanerges" had dispositions which might have made them men of violent deeds had not Christ assumed the task of refining without weakening the powerful, passionate natures that He won. To be much with Christ is essential to doing well in His kingdom.


IV. THE SACRIFICES WHICH THE SERVICE REQUIRED. Zebedee and Salome had their share. For their sons they had made plans with which Christ interfered. Their home was to lose some light, The youths themselves had to endure hardship, but they had love to help them.

(W. J. Henderson, B. A.)

Anything but beneficent those lives might have been. Let the seawater which would madden those who drink it be drawn heavenward, and it will descend as wholesome refreshment for beast and bird and tree and man; and so men that would make the world's life madder become fountains of sweet water after Christ has drawn them into the sky of communion with Himself. You will remember that, and let Him uplift you. To be much with Him is essential to doing well in His kingdom.

(W. J. Henderson, B. A.)

1. This call uttered by Christ was unique in its character.

2. It was emphatic in its authority.

3. It was important in its designation.


1. Christ does not often call idle men to discipleship.

2. If man are active Christ does not despise the meanness of their toil.

II. The call to discipleship COMES TO SEVERAL IN THE SAME FAMILy.

III. It involves the subordination of all human relationships.

1. Of trade relationships.

2. Of domestic relationships.

(Joseph S. Exell, M. A.)

In a rough stone, a cunning lapidary will easily foresee what his cutting, and his polishing, and his art will bring that stone to. A cunning statuary discerns in a marble stone under his feet, where there will arise an eye, and an ear, and a hand, and other lineaments to make it a perfect statue. Much more did our Saviour Christ, who was Himself the author of that disposition in them (for no man hath any such disposition but from God), foresee in these fishermen an inclinableness to become useful in that great service of His Church. Therefore He took them from their own ship, but He sent them from His cross; He took them weather beaten with north and south winds, and rough cast with foam and mud; but He sent there back soupled, and smoothed, and levigated, quickened, and inanimated with that spirit which He had breathed into them from His own bowels, His own eternal bowels, from which the Holy Ghost proceeded; He took fishermen, and He sent fishers of men.

(J. Donne, D. D.)

1. Called men: Said to Andrew, Peter, etc., "Follow me."

2. Separated men: "They left all and followed Him."

3. Commissioned men: "I will make you fishers of men."

4. Equipped men: with His presence — with His Spirit.

(The Christian Advocate.)

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