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Jesus' Co-Workers


Mark 1:16-20’ 2:13-13 Princeton Christian Church 22 May 2022

Jesus cannot accomplish His mission alone. He needs friends whom He can trust. He needs disciples whom He can teach. He needs co-workers who will share His task.

So, after publicly announcing the Good News, He begins to select a few good men.

What are the qualifications that He seeks in these few good men? As we read, He called Simon and Andrew, James and John and Levi (Matthew). Notice He did not sit in his office pouring over the applications of these men. He actually walked among the fishing boats on the Sea of Galilee and approached the tax collector’s table to find these men. I believe He already had His selection of co-workers in mind before He set out to call them to service.

Notice the words He used to call them to become His inner circle – His co-workers. To the fishermen, He simply said, “Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And as He approached the tax collector’s booth, He called Levi in the same way. Simply by saying, “Come, follow Me.”

We see no hint of reluctance on the part of any of these men to obey Jesus’ command. I don’t see any evidence of questions such as “How much will I be paid for this job.” There was no question concerning the hours the job required. No one said they would need to think about this before they could commit to it.

They all – Simon and Andrew, James and John and Matthew immediately left their work at the nets and the tax booth and followed Him.

Jesus needs these co-workers to possess certain qualities and abilities. He needed men who would be trustworthy; men who would be teachable; He needed men who would be task-oriented

Trustworthy co-workers hear a call – “Come, follow Me.” This is a test of trust. In any relationship, and especially in the relationship between our Lord Jesus Christ and His followers, the qualities of loyalty, confidence, and openness are required. When those open lines of communication are cut or severed, the relationship deteriorates.

Jesus demands respect from His co-workers. We, as followers of Jesus, must demonstrate unwavering respect for Him and His authority as we serve Him.

Jesus also demands the quality of love for each other among all His followers. Without that love relationship and the trust factor, we – that is Jesus’ co-workers cannot survive the work and the pressure.

Jesus needs trust in those He chooses to work with Him. Notice that the first man He called to follow Him is Peter (or Simon as we read in verse 16). And, as we see later, Peter was the first one to break that bond of loyalty. As Jesus’ death approached, Peter denied even knowing Jesus, much less that he was a trusted close companion with Him. I think we can visualize Jesus, in His disappointment with Peter, looking at Him with a look that said, “Peter, I trusted you.”

Trust/Loyalty is the first qualification for discipleship. Not only for Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Levi, but for all who began a walk with Jesus down through history, and unto us here today.

Secondly, Jesus also chooses teachable followers. Jesus needs people who are willing and even eager to learn from Him. But Jesus doesn’t offer a short-term period of learning or training. What He offers is a lifelong learning and growth process.

Now, it would seem that Jesus had a tough road ahead of Him in teaching these men to become teachable. Four of the five men we see Jesus calling here in the Gospel of Mark were, we assume, uneducated men – unschooled and unsophisticated men.

Most of us would look at them and wonder why we ever chose these particular men for the job of evangelizing their world. It would seem to us to be a miserable way to state toward the evangelization of the world.

But Jesus knows what He is doing. Jesus wants followers who come to Him with no pre-conceived ideas or opinions or cultural mindsets they are not willing to give up. And, as we answer His call to follow Him, He wants to mold us, and develop us for His purpose.

David McKenna tells this story about himself: “I am a self-made tennis player, modestly successful in a game built upon bad habits. A tennis lesson destroys me because I began trading confidence in bad strokes for hesitation with good strokes. Of all the students of tennis, I am the worst kind, because I must unlearn bad habits before I can stamp in the good ones.” He goes on to say, “My 12-year-old son is just the opposite. With nothing to unlearn, he strokes the ball better after 3 lessons that I do after 30 years. Without a doubt, he will be the first of my sons to beat me.”

The principle we can gain from that story is this: It is easier to learn something than it is to unlearn something. These men who obeyed Jesus’ call to follow Him had very little to unlearn – but they had much to learn from Him. So, there was nothing to hinder the learning process.

Teachability is second only to trust as a qualification for discipleship.

Thirdly, Jesus also wants task-oriented followers.

You notice He called for “fishers of men.” That statement indicates clearly that there is work to be accomplished. And He expects to see results in the work that these followers do.

Catching people to want to follow Jesus and catching fish are similar in technique. Both require skill and the use of our natural gifts.

Jesus wants followers who have learned to live with the consequences of their work. He wants followers who live to achieve the bottom line. That is, work produces results. If they work, they eat. If they fail to work, they starve.

A leader never calls followers to a one-way commitment. The leader-to-follower relationship is a covenant. Jesus says, “Come, follow Me, and does not presume that He is the Master with the expectation of work all on the side of the disciples.

With equal obligation and force, He is saying, If I can trust you to follow, you can trust Me to lead.” Jesus makes a commitment to be our model.

Jesus also agrees to be the wise advisor of teachable followers. He is willing to bear the responsibility of being the teacher and gain the pleasure, of watching disciples who are sometimes sharp and sometimes dull. He sees and expects to see us grow quickly and sometimes taking backward steps; He sees and expects to see us succeed, but knowing that we may quite often fail, but be willing to continue to work toward success.

Jesus becomes the manager of His followers. Like the conductor of an orchestra, He knows their limits and the potential of those He leads. Somewhere between being pushed past our limitations and not being stretched to our potential, is the balance where the leader makes the difference.

Jesus commits Himself to bring His followers along at a pace equal to their skills until they qualify as “fishers of men.”

Growth and development as a follower of Christ are often slow, but it must become deliberate and continuing.

What is the quality which sets these men apart from all others who hear the voice of Jesus?

It is the ability to make a clean and firm decision. At once – without delay. What does Mark 1:18 say? IMMEDIATELY! verse 20 says the same thing IMMEDIATELY! Mark 2:14 simply states that Matthew (Levi) got up and followed Him.

Jesus still calls for trustworthy, teachable, task-oriented people to be His disciples today. In turn, He promises to be our model. He promises to b our wise advisor and our manager. The covenant relationship with Him is still the secret for winning the world with willing disciples standing up to the task of evangelizing for our Lord.

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