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Mark 1:16-20 - Homilies By A.f. Muir

The call of the disciples; or, work and higher work.

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, 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. TOPASS 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.

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