And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, Fear not…
I. NONE SHOULD ENTER THE MINISTRY BUT THOSE WHO ARE CALLED OF CHRIST, There are other voices to which young men are apt to listen.
1. There is the voice of the love of a life of literary ease. The young man has a passion for books; his daily toil seems to him mean and degrading; and he fancies that if he were in the ministry he would have nothing to do but to study, and that study would be a lifelong and ever-increasing delight. At the best he becomes a respectable bookworm, who hates preaching, which so greatly interferes with his studies; but he must preach or starve, and so he preaches sermons about the gospel — very learned sermons — which do his hearers about as much real good as would an admirable lecture on the chemistry of food delivered to a number of farm labourers who at the close of a day's toil had hurried into a kitchen! hungry for food.
2. There is a voice of the ambition to be respectable, genteel!
3. There is the voice of the love of publicity. Sometimes a little success in delivering half a dozen addresses to a Sunday School, or in making as many speeches in a debating society, turns a young man's brain, and he is sure that his proper place is in the ministry.
4. There is still another voice to which many young men are apt to listen, imagining that it is indeed the voice of Christ calling them to devote themselves to the ministry — the voice of a sincere desire to do good. This desire is quick and powerful in the heart of every young man who has really given himself to Christ. But it is a pitiable mistake to imagine that the call to do good and the call to become a preacher of the gospel is one and the same thing. To none of the voices that I have named should a young man listen when he is debating the question whether he should devote himself to the ministry of the Word. Before he takes that solemn, and in many cases irrevocable step, he should be very sure that it is the voice of Christ that he has heard saying to him, "Follow Me, and I will make you a fisher of men."
II. BUT — this is the second fact that should be pondered — WHEN A MAN HAS HEARD THAT CALL HE SHOULD OBEY IT AT ANY COST. It may be that he cannot do so without making sacrifices; like Simon and Andrew, James and John, he may have to leave behind him nets, boats, valuable fishing-tackle, and dear friends; he may have to give up great present advantages, still greater prospective advantages; but like those of whom this narrative speaks to us, he should cheerfully forsake all, and follow Christ. Amos, the herdsman, was as true a prophet of the Lord as Isaiah, although he was reared in a palace. The other young man is in the counting-house; he is the eldest son of the successful head of the firm; he knows that in due time he will be a partner in the firm; he, too, is called, clearly called — he has no doubt that it is Christ's voice he hears — yet he hesitates, for the nets and boats that will have to be left are too many and too valuable; he reminds himself of the fact of which of I have reminded you, that it is not in the ministry only that a man can do good, and so, with this excuse, which he knows is for him a lie, he silences the Voice that calls so clearly. And hence comes that fact, which all the Churches deplore, that so few young men come forth from the middle and upper ranks of society to serve our Lord Jesus Christ as preachers of His Word. This was Garibaldi's most effective appeal to his fellow-countrymen: — "Soldiers, your efforts against overwhelming odds have been unavailing. I have nothing to offer you but hunger, thirst, hardship, death: let all who love their country follow me" (July 22, 1849). Such an appeal does Christ address to-day to the sons of our Christian merchants and landowners.
Parallel VersesKJV: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.