As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.
19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. Mark 1:16-20

How were the disciples to catch men? What was the method and what was the “bait”? As you walk with Jesus and watch and listen to Him, it makes sense that the “bait” was the love and mercy of God which He declared, demonstrated and dispensed freely by touching the lives of ordinary people, forgiving their sin, healing their broken bodies and freeing them from demonic oppression (Act 10:38). Who would not be “lured” by a God like that? For too long the people had been cowered into obedience or driven away by fear of the God who made so many demands that it was impossible to satisfy Him.

Even if the disciples didn’t understand, they followed Him anyway and set out on a journey to relearn the love of the God who had originally called them to be His people millennia before, but whose true character was gradually obscured by a religious system superimposed by men.

Why did the Pharisees hate Jesus so much? Why did they want to kill Him? Could it be that the same fear that controls all other religions locked them into a ritualistic religious system of self-effort so that they could not launch out onto the love of God in case they were right and Jesus was wrong? Did their pride in their self-effort and their perception of “righteousness” make them hold tenaciously to their belief that they were right? Did they hate Jesus because He was too “nice” to the people they despised, and they could not accept God’s generosity to “sinners”?

How do we respond to God’s generosity? Is there a stubborn underlying thought that this is all a mirage: that there is a catch somewhere; that we will wake up and find that it was all a beautiful dream? Why do we struggle at times with the issue of healing? Why do we have nagging doubts when we pray as though the “bait” were a plastic lure and not the real thing? Is this part of the growth and maturing of true faith? How confident are we that what we are offering people is the truth and that God will back it up?

Luella Campbell

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