logo

sign-up-for-free-cybersalt-today-button
You are scanning a London newspaper near the turn of the last century looking through the help wanted ads. Your eyes fall on an unusual ad. It reads:shackleton crew

"MEN WANTED: FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY. SMALL WAGES, BITTER COLD, LONG MONTHS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS, CONSTANT DANGER, SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL. HONOUR AND RECOGNITION IN CASE OF SUCCESS."

The famous ad placed by Ernest Shackleton got around 5,000 replies. He chose only 27 men for the voyage. The diaries of the men who went to the interview tell of their fear, not of the voyage to the south pole, but that they might not be chosen. One crew member who was turned down made the journey as a stow-away bringing the number to 28.1.

Come, follow me,? Jesus said, ?and I will make you fishers of men.?
At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers,
James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets.
Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. Matthew 4:19-22

You are scanning a London newspaper near the turn of the last century looking through the help wanted ads. Your eyes fall on an unusual ad. It reads:shackleton crew

"MEN WANTED: FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY. SMALL WAGES, BITTER COLD, LONG MONTHS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS, CONSTANT DANGER, SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL. HONOUR AND RECOGNITION IN CASE OF SUCCESS."

The famous ad placed by Ernest Shackleton got around 5,000 replies. He chose only 27 men for the voyage. The diaries of the men who went to the interview tell of their fear, not of the voyage to the south pole, but that they might not be chosen. One crew member who was turned down made the journey as a stow-away bringing the number to 28.1.

When I was a boy growing up on the wind-swept plains of Southern Alberta, I would ask my grandmother about her early life in Prince Edward Island. My grandparents were homesteaders shortly after the turn of the century. Life on the prairie was hard and they nearly died the first winter before they gave up farming and moved into to town where my grandfather took up carpentry. But my grandmother told me of times back east when she and her friends would have bonfires on the beach cooking clams and lobsters fresh caught from the Atlantic, of rolling green fields and farms of red earth. They came from Cavendish, home of Lucy Maude Montgomery. She made it sound like heaven. I once asked her, "grandma if P.E.I was so beautiful why did you and grandpa come out to the empty plains to farm?"
Her reply was simply, "It was the adventure of it, lad." Neither she nor my grandfather ever made the trip back.

Jesus appears by the shores of Galilee and he calls four fishermen from their nets. He simply says to them:
Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.

They left their nets and followed him.
Since then people have wondered what it must have been about Jesus and his challenge that would motivate these men to make a sudden change in direction.

It is possible they had been students of John the Baptist. Rabbis frequently had students who they trained and graduated.
Jesus calls his not just to formal studies, but to a radical change in life. The goal is not knowledge per se, but the souls of men.
People will respond to a challenge if the cause is important enough or the adventure strikes a responsive chord in the heart.
Jesus' challenge was to change the course of human lives. They did not know it at the time, but it was to change the course of history.

On one level, I suppose, a person might ask, "and why would I want to be a people fisher? Shouldn't we just present and live the gospel and then leave people alone to make up their minds about things?"

There is a story about Socrates meeting his young pupil Xenophon:
Socrates met him in a narrow lane and barred his way with a stick. First Socrates asked him where he could buy this and that and where this and that was made. Xenophon gave him the required information. Then Socrates asked him, "Do you know where men are made good and virtuous?" "No", replied the young Xenophon. "Then follow me and learn", replied Socrates.2.

Why would you want to take the initiative, even be assertive and forceful in finding ways to communicate the gospel?
I read of the story of two  fishermen:

Jens Oveson was fishing for salmon in central Norway's Gaula River when he was swept away by a strong current. Kjell Wilhelmsen, 55, spotted the man's struggle. Wilhelmsen had fished the river for 25 years and knew where the current would carry Ovesen. Wilhelmsen ran across a bridge, waiting for Ovesen as the current carried him downriver.

Wilhelmsen later told a newspaper, "He seemed paralyzed. Only his face and the tips of his boots were above water. I decided to start casting."

His homemade lure hooked Ovesen's rubber waders on the first cast of about ten yards. But Oveson weighed nearly 250 pounds. Wilhelmsen used every trick he knew to reel in the big man without breaking his light line. He landed the half-conscious Dane and hauled him onto the shore. Oveson survived the ordeal.3.

We respond because it matters.
The power of the Holy Spirit in a person's life helps them to find a new life. Our world is filled with people who need a fresh start.
The knowledge of God's love and purpose gives us hope. Our community is filled with people who need both hope and the power to access God's love for them.
The knowledge of Christ's death in our place gives a means to dealing with our moral guilt.
We all need to know how to deal with guilt.
Unresolved and buried guilt has deep and broad implications for our mental and physical health. Depression is only one of the consequences of unresolved guilt.
The 12 Step program of A.A. is based in part on the need for confession, repentance and forgiveness. They just don't use those terms. Twelve Step programs have had phenomenal success helping people find their way back to sobriety and self respect.
The health and economic benefits alone are incalculable.

Jesus offers forgiveness of our real moral guilt and the opportunity of beginning again.
If you thought you had a way to prevent an illness or to cure some incurable disease, wouldn't you pursue that as aggressively as you could?
Jesus gives us an unconditional guarantee about forgiveness and new life.
What's more, anyone can be the physician to the soul.

In fact, there is good evidence that the best doctors of the soul are not the professionals, but laymen.
In numerous studies, when the psychotherapy treatment of professionals is compared to the benefits of a caring friend, the benefits of having a caring friend led to higher success rates than sophisticated psychotherapy. This is not true where illness is best treated by medication such as psychosis, depression, bi-polar and other problems. This is comparing one talk therapy with the effects of a good friendship. A recent study by Dr. Werner Mendel of the University of Southern California4. confirms the findings of other mental health professionals that lay care-givers are just as effective as professionals in may instances.

Jesus did not train a new crop of rabbis.
He called ordinary people and gave them the words of forgiveness and salvation to offer to whoever would listen.
You are called to offer the words of hope, of forgiveness and of new life.
Does that scare you?
Or are you more frightened at being left out of the most important adventure you may ever embark on?
Why would you? Because it matters and there is no greater adventure than to be part of changing lives for the better.

Wanted: Men and women for incredibly important life changing challenge. You will be inconvenienced, asked to go beyond your comfort zone and venture into the realm of eternity. New life for those you encounter depends on your willingness to be courageous and risk rejection. A stake in eternity and the knowledge of saving another's life for those who accept this challenge.
Apply to Jesus, King of Kings.


Preached  January 23, 2005
Dr. Harold McNabb 
West Shore Presbyterian Church
Victoria, British Columbia

Notes
1.
A good site for more reading on Shackleton and his trips to the south pole is a series by Nova at PBS
2. William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, The Daily Study Bible Series, Westminster Press, 1975, p. 78
3.  "Fisherman Hooks Drowning Dane to Save His Life," The Wenatchee World (7-20-01);

4.  Online article by Sister Jane Marie Luecke,  professor  of English at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater. This article appeared in The Christian Century, May 21, 1975, pp. 525-527. Copyright by The Christian Century Foundation; used by permission. Current articles and subscription information can be found at www.christiancentury.org. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock

Resources Consulted
William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, The Daily Study Bible Series, Westminster Press, 1975
Myron Augsburger, Matthew: The Communicator's Commentary, Word, 1982
Online Resources Consulted
http://www.preachingtoday.com/
Powered By JFBConnect