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Mark 1:16-20


Intro: As morning broke, the night yielded to day and the sky turned from black to blue. The first rays of sunshine revealed some hard working men busily engaged in their occupation. Those men were used to seeing the sun rise over the Sea of Galilee. They were fishermen and their job required them to fish during the cool of the night when the fish were feeding. After a long night of fishing, all that was left was to clean the catch, mend the nets and sell the fish to those who sold in the markets.

Being a fisherman was a hard life, but it put bread on their tables and a roof over their heads. While it was a hard life, it was an important life. All the people in Israel, and in other places, depended on the catch these men brought back to shore. Some of their catch might have been salted down and transported all the way to Rome. It is possible that Caesar himself would have eaten of the fish these very men caught in the Sea of Galilee.

As they were finishing their work for the night, so they could go home and rest their weary bodies, a man they all know passed by on the shore. He spoke just a few words to them, but what they heard would forever change the course of their lives.

That may have been the scene when Jesus passed by the boats where Peter, Andrew, James and John were working. His call to those four men forever changed their lives!

The public ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ is just commencing. One of His first acts is to choose some men to assist Him in His work. He was calling ordinary men to do the extraordinary work of God.

He is still calling today! He is calling people to come for salvation. He is calling them to come for service. He is calling! I wonder if the Lord is calling you today.

Our text reveals something about this matter of the Lord’s call. This passage reveals several characteristics in these verses concerning the call of the Lord. I want to examine those characteristics today. If the Lord calls you, you need to know how to recognize His voice.

As we look at the characteristics of the Lord’s call, I want to ask you this question: Is Jesus Calling You? If He has been speaking to your heart about you salvation, your service, or any other area of your life, this is your message. God has a word for you concerning His plan for your life. Is Jesus Calling You? Let’s find out! Notice these characteristics of His call.



A. This is seen in the fact that He walked up to those boats and called those four men specifically. Other boats were anchored on the Sea of Galilee that morning, but He called four specific men in those two specific boats. He called them personally.

(Ill. So it is with us. The call of the Lord is an intensely personal matter. He calls us, He deals with us and He does so one on one!)


B. When Jesus called them, He found them working. Peter and Andrew are casting their net. John and James are mending theirs. It seems that His call to them fit perfectly with their personalities.

For instance, Peter and Andrew were always casting the Gospel net! They were either preaching fiery sermons, or they were bringing people to Jesus. They were casting that net. They were busy with evangelism.

On the other hand, James and John spent time mending the Gospel net to ensure that the fish did not swim away. Their main emphasis seemed to be the progression and growth of the church and the body of Christ. The same word that is translated “mending is used in Eph. 4:12. There it is translated “perfecting. Sometimes the church needs mending. They were busy with edification.


(Ill. Both of these ministries are desperately needed by the church! The point is this: the Lord designed and gifted each of us individually and for a specific purpose, 1 Cor. 12:7-27. He will take us, with our strengths and our weaknesses, and He will use us to do His work. Not all of us have the same giftedness! But God has a place for each of us to labor. The question is: Are you doing what the Lord has equipped you to do, where He has called you to do it? Or, are you trying to serve somewhere you shouldn’t be?)


(Note: Don’t miss the fact that Jesus called men who were busy into His service. He did not go looking for lazy men to carry out His work.

Far too many want the Lord to use them and they sit and wait for Him to come by. He has already placed you in His family. If you will just look around, you will see that there is plenty of work you could be doing. (Ill. He loves you and He will show you what to do and where to do it, John 5:19-20.)

If you want the Lord to use you, be busy where you are. When you are faithful where He has placed you, He will eventually open up larger arenas of service for you, Ill. Luke 16:10.)


C. This event describes the second encounter these men have had with Jesus. The first time they met Him, John 1:35-42, they were called to follow Him in salvation. Here, they are called into His service.

Regardless of what this life leads you into, the most important thing in the world is having that first, all-important meeting with the Lord Jesus Christ. You need to meet Him in salvation.

Getting saved, however, is not the end of the road. After the Lord saves us, He wants us to move deeper with Him. He desires that we become disciples, Matt. 16:24; Eph. 2:10.

D. Regardless of the type of call that comes our way in life, whether it be for salvation, sanctification, service, separation or surrender, that call needs to be heeded and never ignored!



A. When Jesus passed by that day, the real call was felt in the hearts of the four men who left all to follow Him. No doubt their hearts were touched and they felt a strange power drawing them to go after Jesus. You will notice that neither Zebedee, the servants, or any of the other fishermen received the call, v. 20.

B. So it is with any call from God. No man knows what is happening in a person’s heart until they make the fact of what God is doing public. His call is personal and private. It is between the Lord and the person with whom He is dealing.


(Note: Evidently, the Lord had been dealing with the hearts of these men since they had first met Him. That explains why they reacted instantly when He called them to follow Him. I wonder, what is the Lord saying to your heart today? Is He calling you to be saved? Is He calling you to some kind of Christian service? Is He calling you to leave all and follow Him? If He is speaking to your heart, do not ignore Him, but come to Him now and trust Him by faith!)



A. The Lord does His private work, but He gets no glory until His will is worked out publically. These men are called upon to make a public stand for Jesus. They are called upon to publically line up with Him, His preaching and His program.

B. Through the years, there have been a few servants of the Lord who tried to keep their love for Him quiet, (Joseph - John 19:38; Nicodemus - John 7:51). Their attempts at private service did not last long.

God did not save us and call us so that we could hide ourselves away and pretend that we are just like everyone else. His call demands that we take our stand with Him, regardless of what others may say about us! (Ill. Far too many are members of the Secret Service.)

C. We live in a world filled with people who are headed to Hell. They are trapped in darkness. They are lost and they need help. One of the best ways we can help reach them is to live openly, and honestly for the glory of God. We are called to be “Salt and Light, Matt. 5:13-16 in the world. Our duty is to live a clean, holy and public life for the glory of God.


(Note: If the Lord has saved you and you have never made that fact known publically, you need to do that today! If you have never followed Him in believer’s baptism you need to make that step. If the Lord has called you to be on the job for Him, the time to hide your light under a bushel is over! Now is the time to go to work for the Lord, John 9:4.)



A. These men were nothing special. They were just common, ordinary fishermen. They were not highly educated. They were not especially wealthy. They were not among the movers and the shakers of that society. Nothing set them apart from the thousands of others who lived around the Sea of Galilee. Yet, the Lord chose them and called them to be the first of His followers. What a privilege they enjoyed!


(Note: This has always been God’s way! He locates His finest treasures in the most obscure of places.

He chose David over all his older, larger brothers, 1 Sam. 16. He chose Moses, who at the ripe old age of 80 was a murderer and a fugitive from justice, Ex. 3. He chose Abraham from all the thousands of other men who lived in Ur of the Chaldees, Gen. 12. He chose Paul, who hated the church and Jesus Christ, Acts 9, 1 Tim. 1:15. He chose a small boy and his lunch to feed a multitude, John 6. Jesus chooses those whom no one else would choose, so that He might get the greatest glory, 1 Cor. 1:27.)


B. The very fact that a person gets saved and then is allowed to serve the Lord is a privilege and a blessing beyond comparison! After all, we deserve to be in Hell! The only reason we have hope is because of God’s grace! To think that He would save sinners and then use them to carry out His work is a truth that is precious beyond belief! He takes us like we are, saves us by His grace and puts us into His service, 2 Cor. 4:7. That is what the Lord does! (Ill. His treasure in my trash!)

C. Never take your salvation for granted! What He did when He called you and saved you is a thing more precious that the mind can comprehend! If the Lord is calling you to come to Jesus for salvation, do not spurn His call! If He is calling you to a deeper level of service, do not hesitate, but go full out for Jesus! His call is precious.



A. These men were called upon to make some real expensive choices. They were called upon to leave their friends, their family, their fortune, basically the only life they had ever known. They were expected to trade the certain for the uncertain; the visible for the invisible; the known for the unknown, their ability for their inability; the possible for the impossible.

These men knew fishing inside out, but they were helpless when it came to doing that which Jesus was calling them to do. His call was a call that would cost them everything. In the end, all but one would die for this man Who was calling them to follow Him.

This call was a pricey call for every one of them. Yet, they determined that the price was worth paying. The Bible says that they “forsook their nets. This word means “they severed all their ties with the nets. They walked off and left everything behind. Jesus was worth more to them than anything they may have been walking away from, Mark 8:36-37.

B. When the call of Jesus comes in your life and mine, we need to understand that often it will cost us plenty. Of course, His salvation is free and His power to serve is given to us freely by grace, but the cost of being saved and of selflessly serving the Lord is often a high price to pay. There will be those who will not understand it when you get saved. They will not understand the change in your life. They will not understand the desire to follow Him. They will not understand the differences that Jesus makes in your life. They will not understand how you can give up everything to walk with Him. It won’t make sense to them, and as a result, many will turn their backs on you and have nothing further to do with you, Matt. 10:34-39!

C. He would have us come to the place where we value Him and His will more than anything else in this world. It will be only when Jesus becomes more precious to our hearts than family, friends, and fortunes that we will be able to give Him the service He deserves.

Sometimes, what we are called to give up is nothing more than nets. At other times, we are called upon to walk out on things that are really precious to us. We have to come to the place where Jesus is more precious than anything else in the world.

If anyone ever tells you that serving the Lord is an easy road, they are lying to you! There will be trials. There will be self-sacrifice. There will be problems. There will be enemies. Even with all the difficulties that rear their ugly heads as we pass through this world, Jesus is worth it all!

D. Is He calling you to be saved? Is He calling you to do service to Him? Let me encourage you to delay no longer, but to come to Him and get busy for the glory of God.



A. When the Lord’s call came, these men left their nets and their profession without question. They did not call a committee meeting, have a debate, take a vote, inquire about a contract, or a length of service. When Jesus called, these men left everything to follow Him immediately!

They stepped out of their ships; they stepped away from their lives, and went after Jesus; and they experienced a powerful change of life. Their lives were never the same again. When they left their nets, their ships, their incomes, their friends, and their families they took on a new lifestyle of just doing just what Jesus was doing: walking!

When they started out after Jesus, they began walking His direction, to His destination, at His speed and in His steps. That’s what serving Jesus is all about. When they walked away, they were never able to make a return to the old life.

They tried, but they could not go all the way back, John 21. Jesus changed everything for these men! Their lives were never the same. In fact, Peter, James and John were martyred for Jesus and John was boiled in oil and exiled to Patmos.

B. When the call of Jesus comes to a life, whether it is for salvation or for service, it is a powerful call. It results in immediate action. When the Lord calls, He is not looking for a debate, He is looking for instant obedience!

His call beings with it a powerful change that takes place in the life of the one who follows Him. This change is so great that a return to the old way of life is difficult to imagine, 2 Cor. 5:17.

His call and our obedience to His call will result in our leaving our path to follow His path; in our walking in His direction, to His destination, at His speed and in His steps.

It is so powerful that the person called wants to forsake everything that stands between us and our walking with Him.

C. There are those who have experienced the call of God to follow Him. Still, they chose to hang on to the things of the world, Luke 9:59-62, Matt. 19:16-26. Don’t let that happen to you. If He is calling you, allow nothing to stand in your way of experiencing His life changing power firsthand! If you ever meet Him and respond to His call, you will never be the same!



A. All these men knew was the life of a fisherman. When Jesus called them to follow He made them a promise that was framed in words they understood. He told them they would still be fishing, but from now on, they would be angling for men.

Instead of casting their nets into the Sea of Galilee, they would cast the Gospel net into the sea of humanity. Instead of a literal net, they would use the Word of God.

He promised to take them as they were and make them into what He wanted them to become. And, that is just what He did! He changed each of these men and used them in powerful, profound ways for the glory of God. Jesus caused them to become what they had never been and what they had never intended to be.

B. When His call comes, you can expect some changes to take place. You might think the Lord can’t use you as you are and you may be right. But, He is able to work in our heart and make us into what He wants us to become.

No preacher knows how to preach when he is first called. No one knows how to do what He wants them to do when they are fist called to do it. But, the Holy Spirit works in the heart of the child of God and He prepares them for service to the Master.

(Ill. Isaiah – Isa. 6:1-8 Isaiah was not ready for the task assigned to him, but God prepared him for the call.)

C. The best thing you can do is to place the clay of your life into that hand of the Heavenly Potter. Place yourself at His disposal and watch out! He will use you. After all, the greatest ability is availability. God will use you if you will make yourself available to Him.

Some of God’s most choice servants were the most unlikely candidates. Consider Saul of Tarsus, Acts 7-9. He was saved and he immediately made himself available to the Lord, and God used him in mighty ways, Acts 9:6. Think about Peter, Gideon, David, and Moses. If the Lord can use people like these for His glory, then He can use people like us!

Conc: When Jesus came walking by those ships that day, those four men were not wasting their time. Two were casting nets. This was important, because if you do not cast a net, you will not catch the fish. Two others were mending their nets; they knew that if there were holes in the nets any fish that would be caught could swim free.

They were busy, but they were not doing anything of an eternal nature. In other words, they would have lived their lives, caught their fish, raised their families, died and been forgotten; if Jesus had not called them to anew life.

When they followed Jesus, their lives instantly possessed eternal value. God used them in ways that still impacts the world today.

That is what He does to ever life He touches! He takes us away from the mundane and the shallow and places us in a position where we can be a part of something that will last forever.

As I close, I want to ask you a few questions.

1. In which world are you laying up your treasures?

2. Would you like to live a life of eternal significance?

3. Is Jesus calling you to come to Him today for salvation? For sanctification? For service?

4. What will you do with His call?

This altar is open right now. Just as He passed by those boats by the Sea of Galilee that morning, He is passing by your heart right now. I know He is speaking to someone right now. If He is calling you, the time to come to Him is right now. Will you respond to the Lord’s call and will you come to Him?

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