Mark 1:20

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Mark 1:20 

“And immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and went away to follow Him.” Mark 1:20.  

In this section of Mark, we see Jesus walking along the Sea of Galilee where He calls four of His twelve disciples. First, we see the account of the calling of Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother. “And as He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Mark 1:16-17. Jesus saw these two casting a net into the sea. Jesus calls out to them saying, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Mark 1:17. Now this was similar to the  Jewish practice of pupils toward their teacher. According Rabbinic literature, ‘a pupil sometimes goes after his teacher, i.e. joins him on his journey and maintains a respectful distance behind him; the following thus displays the pupil’s deference for his teacher, his personal commitment to him, and his desire to learn from the way in which the teacher handles the concrete problems of his journey through life.’ Sounds like what Jesus’ disciples were to do. So, how did Peter and Andrew respond? “And they immediately left the nets and followed Him.” Mark 1:18.

Next, we see a similar story regarding James and John. “And going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. And immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and went away to follow Him.” Mark 1:19-20. Again, we see James and John are in a boat, but instead of casting their nets to catch fish, they were repairing their nets in preparation for casting them. It was a common practice to repair their nets rather than buying new ones if possible. And notice what happens. They also left immediately and followed Him.

Now, I want to point out a few important ideas here. First, these were not people with fancy credentials. These were common men, and Jesus met them as they labored as common men. Jesus chose these disciples not for who they were, but for what Jesus could do through them. Theologian Warren Wiersbe has this thought, “Surely the good qualities of successful fishermen would make for success in the difficult ministry of winning lost souls: courage, the ability to work together, patience, energy, stamina, faith, and tenacity. Professional fishermen simply could not afford to be quitters or complainers!” And with this invitation, Jesus demonstrated what Christianity is actually about. At it’s core Christianity is not about theological systems, rules, or even helping people, it is about following Jesus. Now, Jesus used His followers to accomplish His desires. It was essential that they understand there is nothing wrong with these deeds, and they needed to be open to doing them.

And today we, who are true followers of Christ, must do the same for we are His disciples today. And what did Jesus say to the Jews who believed? “Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32. And this is what He is saying to us today. It is not enough to receive God’s truth. We must retain and walk in it. And it is only when we receive the truth, love it, keep it, and walk in it, that we are genuine disciples of Christ. We must devote our lives to Christ and His ways, and not replace some of them with what we desire.

When Jesus called these four to be fishers of men, He called them to do what He did. He was the greatest fisher of men ever. But He wanted others to do the work He did; first these four, then the twelve, then hundreds, then thousands and thousands upon thousands through the centuries; which ultimately refers to us. He wants to use us in doing the work He started, which was making disciples. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. And He is not saying we are to do this alone. Note the last part of verse 20. ‘and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ This is our calling, to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples for Christ. Let us go out there and reach out to everyone, declaring the truth and helping them learn how to do the same.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, 

John 6:19

Verse of the Day Devotion: John 6:19 

“When therefore they had rowed about three or four miles, they *beheld Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened.” – John 6:19  

Over the next week we will be looking at seven miraculous signs performed by Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of John.  These signs show that Jesus was not just some ordinary man but was truly the Son of God.  Today we will look at the fifth sign which is Jesus walking on the water.

After the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus left to go to the hills to pray. “Jesus therefore perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force, to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.” John 6:15. John does not say He went to pray, but we read this detail in Mark’s account. “And after bidding them farewell, He departed to the mountain to pray.” Mark 6:46. The disciples went down to the sea to take the boat west to Capernaum. “and after getting into a boat, they started to cross the sea to Capernaum. And it had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.” John 6:17.

As they were crossing, the wind picked up significantly and caused the water to get rough.  As they continued, they saw Jesus on the sea. “When therefore they had rowed about three or four miles, they beheld Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened.” John 6:19. It is somewhat understandable they would be afraid, for in such rough waters they saw a man walking on these waves. Again, in the account by Mark, it gives a clearer reason for their fear. “But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were frightened.” Mark 6:49-50a. But Jesus calmed their fears. “But He said to them, It is I; do not be afraid.” John 6:20. And upon hearing Him, they were relieved. “They were willing therefore to receive Him into the boat; and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.” John 6:21.

The next day, the multitude that were at the feeding of the five thousand saw something they could not understand. “The next day the multitude that stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was no other small boat there, except one, and that Jesus had not entered with His disciples into the boat, but that His disciples had gone away alone. There came other small boats from Tiberias near to the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks. When the multitude therefore saw that Jesus was not there, nor His disciples, they themselves got into the small boats, and came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. And when they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You get here?” John 6:22-25. It did not make sense that He could be over there, when He did not get in the only boat that had been there or with the disciples. 

But Jesus does not answer their question.  On the contrary, He questions their motives in looking for Him. “Jesus answered them and said, Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give to you, for on Him the Father, even God, has set His seal.” John 6:26-27. He was referring here to Himself as the Bread of Life. “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, He gave them bread out of heaven to eat. Jesus therefore said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” John 6:31-33. And then culminates with “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” John 6:35

There is a significant point here. Jesus showed the disciples, once again, that He was not an ordinary man but proved to the disciples that He was in command of all things, including the elements, which is something that God alone could do. He revealed this truth to the disciples who recognized His divinity and responded with a confession of faith in Jesus as God. Matthew records, “And when they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” Matthew 14:32-33. Interesting note, this was the first time Jesus was called the Son of God by the disciples or that they had worshipped Him. And this is what worship is, acknowledging who God is and praising Him both for who He is and for what He has done. It was in this story that the disciples took the first step and worshiped Jesus as the Son of God. And it was due to the sign of Him walking on the water to meet them.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

John 21:3

(Editor’s Note: Christiaan here, William has returned home from the hospital, he’s working on an update for everyone, so this will be my last time posting for him for a bit). 

Verse of the Day Devotion: John 21:3 (NLT)

“Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ ‘We’ll come too,’ they all said. So, they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.” – John 21:3 (NLT)

We’ve arrived at the end of our journey in John 21. And with it being my last time writing for a time, I thought it may be good to finish this exploration where it began at the beginning of the chapter. If you’d like to catch up on what we’ve explored so far you can click on the following links. John 21:22 we saw Jesus’s response when Peter was concerned about what other people’s callings were. In John 21:7 we saw how Peter zealously swam towards Jesus upon realizing it was him. John 21:9 we saw the lengths that Jesus went to restore Peter. Lastly, in John 21:11 we saw how God gave Peter strength to do what God called him to do.

Today in our passage, I wanted to look at what happened before all four of our previous verses. Jesus has died. Peter has denied. Jesus has shown up to Peter, individually once, and the disciples all together twice before. Lots of people have argued very different things to account for Peter’s going fishing after seeing the resurrected Jesus. Some argue that it was a move out of frustration, while others believe it was ‘unthinkable’ if not ‘one of complete apostasy’. Some see it as simple as an, ‘even disciples need to eat.’ Some argue that he was told or lead to do this because God wanted them to be ready for Jesus to act. I’m going to go from the point of view of: Peter a fisherman, after all he’s gone through, decides to return to being a fisherman. This is an extremely non-spiritual reaction, but it’s a very human reaction, and illustrates a very real truth.

When we don’t know what to do, we tend to do what we’ve always done.

Peter and the rest of the disciples are have been with Jesus for the last three years, following his lead. They haven’t been worrying about where to go and what to do, because Jesus has always told them. Jesus had told them of all the things they would do, he told them of the Paraclete (Holy Spirit) coming after he (Jesus) left, and they had to wait for it. I don’t necessarily blame them. I think they were operating in, “Let’s just survive until tomorrow” mode. The only problem with that is while you survive, you don’t take the opportunities to thrive. Us Christians today, who may write about this, have never known what it was like to not have Holy Spirit with us, so I think we have to give a special grace to Peter. He didn’t have the spirit to lead him in his next direction.

But what can we do? What should they have done? I think to answer this, we can take a cue from Princess Anna of Arendelle. In Frozen 2, Anna finds herself alone, separated from everyone that she’s known and loved, with no direction of what to do. While Peter and the Disciples weren’t in this position yet. In the song, “The Next Right Thing” she struggles with what to do (you can watch the video by clicking here):

I follow you around, I always have.
But you’ve gone to a place I cannot find.
This grief has a gravity, It pulls me down.
But a tiny voice whisper in my mind
“You are lost, hope is gone, But you must go on
And do the next right thing.”

The Next Right Thing – Frozen 2

More often than not, God gives tells us what we will do, we’ll have a calling on our lives, or something that we’ve pushed for, but he doesn’t tell us how we’ll do it or the steps to accomplish it. We may have people in our lives who can give us wise counsel, but outside of God directly telling us how to get there, we have to make a choice and like Anna, do the next right thing.

I’ve mentioned before about how it took 35 years for me to walk in my calling to be in full time vocational ministry, but until I got to do that, I had been volunteering, serving where I could, taking the advice of others to broaden my horizons. I went to school, prepared myself, and then pursued it. I cannot tell you how often I talked to my parents and lamented to them how I wish that God would just tell me what I should do, because I was pretty sure I was making all sorts of terrible choices, and I made decisions out of fear, or greed of some sort (choosing a high paying job, outside of my field) and it stunted my ability to serve God (required me to work weekends, and made my ability to serve in a church inconsistent). But I’ve seen God redeem those choices.

That may be it. Maybe, I don’t want to jump on the Peter is a heretic for going fishing because I’ve been in his situation. I know Jesus has a calling on me. I know God wants me to do X or Y, but I don’t know how to go about it, so I’m going to go and do something I know how to do and make money so that whatever I end up doing, I’ll be in a better place financially.

It’s also interesting to note that Peter made the statement about himself, that he was going fishing, and the rest of the disciples followed along. We don’t have any indication in the verbiage that Peter was trying to conscript them or anything, just that he was making an individual choice and others followed him. And it’s a good thing, in this case, that they did, because, whether by God calling Peter to go fishing or by Peter just choosing to go fishing himself, all the disciples got to see Jesus again, and witness the reconciliation, restoration, and re-commision of Peter in a way that changed the world.

When you’re stuck with what to do and where to go, remember that as Proverbs 15:22 (ESV) says, “Without counsel, plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” so make sure you ask your trusted friends, relatives, and pastors for their counsel. They may have opportunities or ideas you may not have thought of. Pray about it, ask Holy Spirit what you should do, and listen for the small voice. And when all else fails, follow the example of Princess Anna, and do the next right thing.

To finish out my tenure writing these verses of the day, I hope that through this, you’ve been able to learn some new things about Jesus, Peter, and John. I hope that you’ve been able to see how much depth even some of the seemingly most benign verses could have. And I hope that I’ve accomplished my mission in that I wanted to encourage you all to take heart by John’s account of what happened with Peter. If Jesus would do it for Peter, I have no doubt he can and will do the same things in your life.

God Bless!