Marks account of what took place by the Sea of Galilee does not describe the first occasion on which Simon and Andrew had met the Lord Jesus. This is recorded in John 1. At that time Andrew was one of the two who had followed the Lord and asked the question, "Where dwellest thou?", to which the reply was, "Come and see" (vv.38-39). The next day Andrew brought his brother, Simon Peter, to meet the Lord.
In John chapter 1 it was an opportunity to meet the Lord and converse with Him. In Mark 1, however, when the Lord met them as they were engaged in fishing, the call was now, "Come ye after me". It was to come and serve. Every believer is met with the same challenge to follow Him and engage in His service. Note that this challenge was given when John was cast into prison (1.14). Some could have argued that this was not a wise time to be associated with Jesus of Nazareth as the authorities had shown their strong disapproval. The Lord, however, stated that "The time is fulfilled" (v.15), and His time is always the best.
Note, first, that the Lord called them to come after Him (v.17). In like manner the Lord called James and John, who were partners with Simon and Andrew in the fishing business. The call to all four was clear, and the cost was great. It involved sacrifice. Clearly, what He had taught them demanded immediate response, and "straitway", without delay, Simon and Andrew rose to the challenge and "forsook their nets" (v.18). James and John did likewise when they left their father to remain with the fishing business, allowing the hired servants to continue to be employed (v.19).
Second, the Lord told them that He would make them "to become fishers of men". In the account set out by Matthew the words "to become" are omitted, but here in the Gospel where the Lord is the Servant of Jehovah, the disciples are seen as servants and as such they must have a time of training. It was necessary to accept that time was to be spent in being taught. The step that they took involved education. What was set before them was the process of teaching "to become fishers of men". This development is recorded in the chapters that follow, so that at the end of Marks Gospel they were able to preach everywhere (16.20), having listened to Him and followed His example.
The third noticeable feature is that they "followed him" (v.18) and they "went after him" (v.20). It was never their ambition to go their own way or pursue their own ideas. He was the leader they followed, and He was the centre around whom they gathered to be taught, to pray, and to converse. It required them to continue in fellowship with Him, to accompany Him at all times.
The fourth issue deals with the reliability of the nets. It must be observed that the first two who were called, Simon and Andrew, were casting a net into the sea when the Lord spoke. This leads us to think of the evangelist who will cast the gospel net as the Word of God is preached. When James and John were called, however, they were mending their nets, picturing the need to make certain that the nets were always effective. The lesson for us is the necessity to ensure that when bringing the gospel to others what we say is not doubtful. There is the need for a sound gospel which has no "holes" present, but is always soundly Scriptural. Today the gospel is treated at times with indifference or even with contempt. The Word of God must still be proclaimed. The "nets" must yet be cast with assurance that they have no holes left to be mended. It must be a sound net!
Missionaries still labour abroad, and it is worthy that they so do. But there is need also for the gospel to be spread in nations which in the past were known for their evangelical fervour, but which today are opposed to the Scriptures. The need is great, the time is short, the message is still powerful. The call still goes out, "Come ye after me, and I will make you"…what He wants you to be.