Mark 1:16
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.
The Fishers of MenR. Green Mark 1:14-20
Christ's Call to Busy MenA. Rowland Mark 1:16, 17
Bait to Catch FishG. McMichael.Mark 1:16-18
Busy MenJohn Trapp.Mark 1:16-18
Catching Fish a Preparation for Catching MenD. Davies, M. A.Mark 1:16-18
Christ Calling MenDr. Parker.Mark 1:16-18
Christ's Election of DisciplesS. A. Brooke, M. A.Mark 1:16-18
Forsaking All to Follow ChristT. Brooks.Mark 1:16-18
GrippersR. Glover.Mark 1:16-18
Heart Responsive to HeartDr. Parker.Mark 1:16-18
Jesus, as Head of the Kingdom, Calling His HelpersD. C. Hughes, M. A.Mark 1:16-18
Primary and Subordinate Qualifications that are Important to be Possessed by All Those Who Essay to Do Good to OthersW. Kelynack.Mark 1:16-18
Rules for FishingMark Guy Pearse.Mark 1:16-18
The Apostles Change of Employment a Gain to ThemP. B. Davis.Mark 1:16-18
The Call of the First ApostlesR. Glover.Mark 1:16-18
The Call to ServiceD. Davies, M. A.Mark 1:16-18
The Estimate Jesus Christ Had of Humanity in Contrast with All the Other Objects that Engaged His AttentionW. Kelynack.Mark 1:16-18
The Gospel as a Fishing NetDr. Mark Frank.Mark 1:16-18
The Higher DiscipleshipJ. H. Shakespeare, M. A.Mark 1:16-18
The Lord ChoseM. F. Sadler, M. A.Mark 1:16-18
The Making of Men CatchersC. H. Spurgeon.Mark 1:16-18
The Manner in Which Christ Attracted Men to Himself by Making Their Secular Calling Typical of Spiritual WorkJoseph S. Exell, M. A.Mark 1:16-18
The Minister is a FishermanR. Cecil.Mark 1:16-18
The Ministerial OfficeMark 1:16-18
Why Should the Lord Choose His Foremost Apostles from Among FishermenM. F. Sadler, M. A.Mark 1:16-18
Call of DisciplesE. Johnson Mark 1:16-20
The Call of the Disciples; Or, Work and Higher WorkA.F. Muir Mark 1:16-20
The Call of the First Four DisciplesJ.J. Given Mark 1:16-20

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.

Now as He walked by the Sea of Galilee.
The call of these men is a strange thing. It is strange that He begins with winning disciples, not working miracles. And it is more strange still that in our poor human nature He should find any fitness to aid Him in His work. You would have thought only heaven could have given the Saviour fellow workers that would be a comfort and a help to Him. But man can be a worker together with God. Several things are noteworthy in connection with this group of apostles.

I. THEY ARE NOT THEOLOGIANS. We do not need high education to fit us to do good.

II. But they HAD BENEFITED BY AN EXCELLENT TRAINING. They came from pious homes; they had good schooling and good knowledge of the Bible; also the excellent training that lies in learning a trade requiring diligence and endurance. What special further fitness they needed for their work would come from intercourse with Christ.

III. THEY WERE FOUND IN GROUPS. Ties of friendship may assist both consecration and power.

IV. They are enlisted GRADUALLY. In no religious matters should we act with haste. Be "like the stars, hasting not, lingering not." Life is not long enough to let us postpone the discharge of duty a single day after its discovery; but it is quite long enough to give us time to reach calmly every conclusion on which we have to act.

(R. Glover.)

Note —

I.The peremptoriness of the call — "Come ye after Me."

II.The inducement to obey — "I will make you," etc.

III.The promptness of their obedience — "And straightway," etc.

IV.The order in which they were called — "Simon Peter" first.

V.The kind of men called. Not idlers.

(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)

God calls men when they are busy; Satan, when they are idle. For idleness is the hour of temptation, and an idle person the devil's tennis ball, which he tosses at pleasure, and sets to work as he likes and lists.

(John Trapp.)


1. Their calling had inured them to hardship and danger — the lake on which they exercised their craft being exposed to sudden and violent storms.

2. Their calling, demanding a constant exercise of patience and watchfulness, and being very precarious besides, had made them familiar with disappointment, so that they would not be discouraged by it. Thus their worldly calling would be the best discipline for their spiritual work. They must be prepared to endure hardness, for they had no settled incomes; they must be ready to face death, for at any moment a storm of bloody persecution might arise; they must be patient, both towards churches and souls; and they must be content at times with taking a few converts in their nets, where they might have expected abundant draughts.

(M. F. Sadler, M. A.)

I. Unlearned and ignorant men, that His grace might be made perfect in their weakness. That the then known world should have been, in two or three centuries, subdued to the faith by such men, and by such as succeeded them, was, next to the resurrection of Christ, the greatest miracle of Christianity;

II. Religious men. They had "justified God" by attaching themselves to the ministry of the Baptist. But they were neither(1) prejudiced Pharisees, who would have had a world of traditional interpretation to unlearn; nor(2) superstitious men, or they would have shown themselves far readier to look for supernatural action from their Master.

(M. F. Sadler, M. A.)


II. FOLLOWING CHRIST CONSECRATES EVERY VOCATION. Earthly pursuits are the pattern of the heavenly.




(D. Davies, M. A.)


II. That good men in embracing every opportunity for the moral welfare of others, might with great advantage APPEAL TO THEM THROUGH THEIR SECULAR CALLING, MAKING IT SYMBOLICAL OF RELIGIOUS WORK AND TRUTH. "I will make you to become fishers of men."

1. This method of appeal is attractive.

2. It may be opportune.

3. It is effective.

(Joseph S. Exell, M. A.)

I. WHOM DID HE CHOOSE? Not the wise and learned; they would have worried the simplicity with endless commentaries, have wrought it into intellectual puzzles, so that the shepherd on the hill could not have understood it. He did not choose the rich; they would have weighted His goodness with the cares of wealth. Did He choose religious leaders? They would dissolve His charity, mercy, in the acid of their theological hatreds. Did He choose the politicians? He would not use political craft.

II. "Come," He said, "I will make yea fishers of men. And they left all and followed Him." HE WAS NOT WRONG THEN IN HIS CHOICE. These men who gave up all at once for Him, had impulse, heart, impetuosity, love; and these were the main things He wanted for His work. It would be a hard task, and no faint-heartedness or questioning could bear its trials. It was this intensity of spirit that Christ stirred in men. When He spoke men arose from the dead. The source of His influence was partly personal; also it was weighted with infinite, Divine, ideal thoughts; He established living truths in the hearts of men. That was His real power. As life went on His thoughts grew before them. So inspired, they went forth into the world. They saw before them a vast ocean, in whose depths men were lost in ignorance and misery.

(S. A. Brooke, M. A.)

I. This call was imperative.

II. It is first given to two obscure men.

III. It is a spoken, not a written, call.

IV. They are commanded to follow a person, not a creed.

V. This call is abrupt.

VI. In all revolutionary movements there have been men who have heard nothing but — "Follow."

VII. Those who are called are not such at first sight as might have been expected; yet on examination it will be found that they were the only persons who could have been called, in harmony with the whole ministry of Jesus Christ.

(Dr. Parker.)

It is said that the magnet will not draw in the presence of the diamond: the world cannot hold that soul that is susceptible to the superior power of Christ. The eye dazzled with the glare of the sun sees darkness everywhere else. Leather and iron money was, in the early ages, soon cast aside for gold and silver. How soon we part with lamps and candles when the sun rises.

(T. Brooks.)

The call met a deep craving of the heart, and at once they joined Christ the man, without knowing anything of Christ the doctrine. The heart wanted a heart; life demanded life. The world had lived long enough on written promises; the cold parchment was becoming colder day by day. There was an aching at the heart of society — a great trouble — an exciting wonder. The call had a peculiar charm about it in so far as it demanded attachment to a visible person. Not a creed but a Life bade them "follow."

(Dr. Parker.)

The net to fish for men is commonly the word truly preached; the threads are the words of persuasion; the knots the arguments of reason; the plummets are the articles and grounds of the faith. This net is to be wove with study and pains, to be let down and loosed by preaching, to be gathered up by calling men to account of what was beard, what they have done upon it; it is washed and cleansed by our tears and prayers, and spread and dried by our charity and mortified affections. And this is the net that we must let down, "though it catch nothing," and "at His word it is to be let down." His word is to be the length and breadth, the whole rule and measure of all our sermons, all your actions. Leave off our work we must not, because it does not answer us with success; but do our work again, and see where we erred, and mark it; find what was the occasion of our ill success, our taking nought, and avoid it.

(Dr. Mark Frank.)

The more you study Christ's life the more you will see how in comparison with the claims of man everything else was regarded as subsidiary and comparatively unimportant. For rank, for wealth, for fame, for all the pursuit of which fills men with fever and the possession of which leaves them in unrest, Christ cared not a jot. But for man He cared everything. He might be poor, despised, wretched; no matter, he was a man! And when He viewed him thus as a king, though discrowned, as an heir whose birthright was immortality, as a brother of the seraphim, though bowed in the ruin of a crushing overthrow, His whole nature went out to him in a passionate intensity of tenderness, and in His annunciation that He had come to seek and save the lost, Christ but proclaimed His estimate of the greatness of humanity. The first thing which any one of us must seek to possess as a qualification for Christian work is the same overmastering sense of the preciousness of humanity. We shall work for man in proportion as we feel that. Get this thought, then, written in your heart, fixed in your memory as with a diamond, that to consecrate your energy, to devote your might to do the work of Christ, as it bears upon the elevation and salvation of man, will do more to replenish your soul with happiness, and to crown your life with honour, than to reap a harvest of wealth or fame. To bring a little child as a lamb to the fold of the Good Shepherd, to raise the fallen out of the mire to the level of a purer life, and to bring men under the saving influences of Christ's gospel, is a work which angel minds would fain engage in, and one which demands and deserves the highest devotion we can bring to bear upon it.

(W. Kelynack.)

And I would remark of all knowledge the most important that must be possessed by him who seeks to influence others for good is the knowledge of man. To know books is much, to be familiar with things is well; but large wisdom in these particulars may consist with much ignorance in dealing with human nature. To know man, to work with success on man, you must know his susceptibilities as well as his aversions, his merits as well as his failings. And you must know this in order satisfactorily to deal with the question how best human nature may be approached, and how most effectually it may be converted to the uses you contemplate. To give shape to an iron bar you need a sledgehammer stroke of power. To give form to clay, you need but the deft movements of a vigorous hand. And so, in dealing with human nature; the knowledge on which I insist, leading out to the employment of the right means, is one of great moment in the success of our task. It is of no use for any one of us to go through life with a little code of action like a two-foot rule to be the measure of all character. We must deal with men according to their individual character. Some men we must approach through the medium of their hope, and some through the medium of their fear. Some we must strike, but as the bee strikes the flower when he draws the honey from its heart; and others we must shape as the sculptor shapes the block, which he strikes again and again to disemprison the angel that lies hidden in the slab. Now in this, and then in that form, Christian workers will adjust their movements, guided by the knowledge of human nature of which we are speaking, knowing that if men are sought in the right way, and at the right time, like fish you may catch them, but that if you neglect these very primary qualities, you may almost forecast failure where you should expect success.

(W. Kelynack.)

Conversion is most fully displayed when it leads converts to seek the conversion of others: we most truly follow Christ when we become fishers of men. The great question is not so much what we are naturally, as what Jesus makes us by His grace: whoever we may be of ourselves, we can, by following Jesus, be made useful in His kingdom. Our desire should be to be man catchers; and the way to attain to that sacred art is to be ourselves thoroughly captured by the great Head of the college of fishermen. When Jesus draws us we shall draw men.

I. SOMETHING TO BE DONE BY US — "Come ye after Me."

1. We must be separated to Him, that we may pursue His object.

2. We must abide with Him, that we may catch His spirit.

3. We must obey Him, that we may learn His method.

4. We must believe Him, that we may believe true doctrine.

5. We must copy His life, that we may win His blessing from God.

II. SOMETHING TO BE DONE BY HIM — "I will make you." Our following Jesus secures our education for soul winning.

1. By our following Jesus, He works conviction and conversion in men: He uses our example as a means to that end.

2. By our discipleship the Lord makes us fit to be used.

3. By our personal experience in following Jesus, He instructs us until we become proficient in soul-winning.

4. By inward monitions He guides us what, when, and where to speak.

5. By His Spirit He qualifies us to reach men.

6. By His secret working on men's hearts He speeds us in our work.

III. A FIGURE INSTRUCTING US — "Fishers of men." A fisher is

(1)dependent and trustful;

(2)diligent and persevering;

(3)intelligent and watchful;

(4)laborious and self-denying;

(5)daring, and not afraid to venture upon a dangerous sea;

(6)successful. He is no fisher who never catches anything.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Following Christ, if rightly understood, is the destruction of selfishness. It casts off the idols of worldly prudence and worldly maxims from the heart, and puts there instead the supreme self-sacrifice of Christ. Well might these two plain men have said, "What! leave all and follow Thee? leave our nets and boats that we have bought with our few savings? ruin our worldly chances, and go forth to we know not what — all for the hope of doing good? Where is the gain, where is the advantage to ourselves?" But the man who receives Christ into his heart cannot reason in that way. Tell him that he is giving up his worldly chances, that he is injuring his strength, that he is working without hope of reward on earth; and he must still reply, "My aim is not the gratitude of men, but the favour of God. I am not working for the regard of men, but for the 'Well done' of my Master." To do that which pleasure prompts, to do that which does not clash with our inclinations — even the world can go as far as that. But the true disciple is he who leaves his nets and boats at the command of Christ; the man who goes out to a foreign land, leaving kindred and home that he may preach the unsearchable riches of Christ; the Sunday school teacher who gives up the hour needed, perchance, for rest, that the ignorant may be taught, and the feet of children led into the narrow way. Christ calls us to the higher discipleship, because it is His purpose that we, under God, should bring back the world to His sway...Let us rise above the low level where we can only read the word "duty," to that grander height where we can see that all Christian service is a privilege and a joy; and though heart and flesh fail sometimes, let us walk as seeing the invisible. The divinest life that ever the world knew carried its cross every step of the way, and your life will not be worth much unless you carry your cross too. Nothing great or good is ever born into the world without travail and pain.

(J. H. Shakespeare, M. A.)

In fishing, whether in sea or among men, there is wanted —

1. A net. The gospel.

2. Casting the net. Andrew did this first when he caught Peter his brother (John 1:41); Peter did this most energetically afterwards with his splendid work of preaching. In doing this, Christ directs where; otherwise we may toil all night in vain.

3. Dragging the net to land. Confessional; inquiry. room, etc.

4. Mending the nets. Heretics and schismatics unite against it, and so break the net. Inside foes are the worst — the dogfish and sharks of the gospel net. Hence a mender is wanted.

5. Counting the fish (John 21:11).

The elect and chosen are many and great; and these do not break the nets.
Did those skilled fishermen gain or lose in leaving the lake, the boat, and the net, and becoming the Lord's apostles? Was it to their loss or advantage that they sacrificed the wealth gathered by the net for the privilege of saving men? Ask Peter on the day of Pentecost: ask him when by his lips the gospel is first preached to the Gentiles, and He gathers the first fruits of a worldwide harvest. Ask John when, at the close of a long life, on the isle of Patmos the heavens opened to him, and the scroll of the future is unrolled, and he with rapt vision is permitted to see the triumphs of the gospel he was called to preach. Ask them now, their names having gone through the world closely associated with Christ, pillars of the Church on earth, and for eighteen centuries sharing with their Lord the glory of the Church above.

(P. B. Davis.)

As such he must fit himself for his employment. If some fish will bite only by day, he must fish by day; if others will bite only by moonlight, he must fish for them by moonlight.

(R. Cecil.)

Mr. Jesse relates that certain fish give preference to bait that has been perfumed. When the prince of evil goes forth in quest of victims, there does not need much allurement added to the common temptations of life to make them effective. Fishers of men, however, do well to employ all the skill they can to suit the minds and tastes of those whom they seek to gain.

(G. McMichael.)

I watched an old man trout fishing the other day, pulling them out one after another briskly. "You manage it cleverly, old friend," I said; "I have passed a good many below who don't seem to be doing anything." The old man lifted himself up, and stuck his rod in the ground. "Well, you see, sir, there be three rules for trout fishing, and 'tis no good trying if you don't mind them. The first is, keep yourself out of sight, and the second, keep yourself further out of sight; and the third is, keep yourself further still out of sight. Then you'll do it." "Good for catching men, too," thought I.

(Mark Guy Pearse.)

Every quality of mind which these fishermen had cultivated will serve the higher purpose now. Their vocation had —

I. Called out their PATIENCE.

II. Made a large demand on their INVENTIVENESS. Catching men needs sagacity.

III. Kept in lively exercise their observant WATCHFULNESS. They found it needful to study all the changes of light and shade; the aspects of sky and sea. To says souls we must be "all eye."

IV. Had inured them to DISAPPOINTMENT.

(D. Davies, M. A.)

I have known a congregation so full of kindly Christian workers that in the low neighbourhood in which they worked they got the nickname of "Grippers. Lowe, hearing the name, thought it must be a new sect, but it only marked the old apostolic quality. All Christians ought to pray for this power of catching souls. It is not violence, loudness, or terror that gives it, but love, goodness, the clear and strong convictions that come from following Christ.

(R. Glover.)

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