Have you ever done an inductive Bible study? I don’t know if I can properly explain it, but I’m going to give it a whirl. You know how I love whirl-ing. Basically, what we did during our InterVarsity Bible study is this: our leader printed out the passage we were going to study, gave us all a copy and we read it together. Then, he gave us a few minutes to go through it on our own. We highlighted, underlined and marked up our pages. We found things we thought were interesting, noticed details and wrote out questions. Then we came back together and went through our observations. I learned SO MUCH. The first one we did together was Mark 1:16-20; 2:13-17. Here’s the first passage in the ESV.
16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18And immediately they left their nets and followed him.19And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
Our group made a lot of observations that I want to share with you.
“I will make you…” I love that he says that. On the Jesus timeline, he hasn’t said the famous words, “I am the way, the truth and the life,” (John 14:6) and yet he’s informing them that he is the only way. “I will make you.” I’m the one. It’s me. We can try all day to be good enough, nice enough, perfect enough to get into Heaven, but at the end of the day, “…no one comes to the Father except through [Jesus].” (John 14:6) It makes me think of the song from the Broadway musical, “Wicked”. “It’s me…IT’S MMEEEE!”….anyway.
“…fishers of men.” He had a plan to use the talents and passions they already had for his glory. Go, Christ! These fisherman made their living going out and seeking fish. Day in and day out, they searched. That was their job and they were good at it. Otherwise, they would have gone to grad school or something. God’s plan involved using fishermen to fish men. To bring them in with the Good News and then throw them back into the world to spread the message. I have this image of God standing up there in Heaven, catching us and gently tossing us back and watching us run around telling others about Him.
“Immediately…” Not, “as soon as they finished their lunch” or “after they packed up their jammies”. It was immediate. “…they left their nets and followed him.” Then Christ “immediately” calls James and John. Not, “as soon as they were done mending their nets.” They dropped what they were doing, left their father and followed Christ. What’s great is that Christ didn’t do anything without thought and a plan. He didn’t call them to him and say, “So, I’m thinking about asking you to follow me. How would you feel about that?” He calls them. Immediately. He has a plan and they’re a part of it. In Luke 9:23, it says, “And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'” Boom. Take up your cross. What’s your cross?
“…the hired servants…” John and James’ family must have been wealthy. They had servants, after all. They probably had it made. Some servants, maybe a yacht in the Bahamas, either way they were probably comfortable. They didn’t hesitate when Christ called them. Today, not all of us have servants. Yet, when Christ calls us, how many excuse variations can we come up with on the fly?
I’d really encourage you to try and do your next quiet time like this. If it’s a story you feel like you’ve read a million times, look for details. Read things out of context. Just think about the words in front of you. Then, go through your rolodex in your brain and think about other passages you’ve come across in the past that relate. It’s amazing how it all comes together.
And like I said, these aren’t all my personal notes on the passage. A couple of these were said by my fellow InterVarsity-ers.
Reading: “Sons of Encouragement” by Francine Rivers