By Joshua Franks
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Bruceton
I’m the proud father of two awesome little boys who are, of course, always into mischief. Most of the time I feel like a drill sergeant barking commands. These commands are usually met with a myriad of excuses as to why they can’t comply. “Clean up your room before dinner,” I’ll decree. Immediately the protest begins. The promise to do it later soon follows. My response is always the same. “There wasn’t a question mark on the end of that sentence.”
That’s human nature. We’re always looking for a way out of doing the things we don’t really like to do. For instance, we’re told by police officers that we can’t speed, yet how many of us don’t try to get away with it when we’re in a hurry?
As I reflected on our focal passage, my fear is that we treat Jesus and His call on our life in much the same way. We heed the parts we like. We circumvent the parts we don’t. We make excuses as to why we can’t.
This is not how the Sovereign Lord of the universe operates. He doesn’t ask for our input. He’s not concerned with what we deem as more important. He doesn’t even care how we feel about His edicts. Instead, Jesus’ call comes with three commands.
First, when Jesus calls there is a command to repent (Mark 1:15). Repentance isn’t optional. Repentance is required. It is impossible to be saved without it. In order to turn to Christ and place our faith in Him, we must turn away from our sins. Further, not only is repentance mandatory for new believers, it is also obligatory for mature believers. Repentance isn’t a one time event. Repentance is a continual process in the life of a believer where we constantly become more aware of who we are and continually turn away from that in our quest to become more like Christ.
Second, when Jesus calls there is a command to follow (Mark 1:17a). Obediently following isn’t something we can bypass whenever it makes us uncomfortable. When we repent and submit our lives to Him as Lord, it means following Him all the time. Sometimes we follow Him on the mountain tops. Sometimes we follow Him through the valleys. Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes it’s hard. But regardless of where we are and what is going on, we must resolutely follow Him.
Third, when Jesus calls there is a command to fish (Mark 1:17b). Notice, this isn’t an invitation to fish that can be declined. All believers, everywhere, are required to fish. Unfortunately, this is the one command that believers are most likely to protest, make excuses, and blatantly ignore. In contrast to this, Jesus said, “I will make you become fishers of men.” The same verb is rendered “appointed” in Hebrews 3:2. Jesus has appointed us to be fishermen. I can’t find a question mark attached to that. Can you?