Stephen McLaren

Mark 1: 16-20

Isaiah 58: 6-12

What I am particularly impressed with is this remark of the gospel writer’s as to these two disciples in verse 19, and their activity: “these were in the ship repairing the trawl-nets”. The Lord Jesus, I am sure, had had to do with these disciples before, and as He came along here He elevates Simon and Andrew’s activities beyond what they could have imagined. He speaks of making them “become fishers of men”. They were engaging in the activity of fishing, and the Lord speaks to them of how He is going to take up what they were engaged in and bring it into an entirely new sphere. Under His direction they can “become fishers of men”.

When He comes to James and John, the Spirit gives the comment that “these were in the ship repairing the trawl-nets; and straightway he called them”. It simply says “he called them”, and “leaving their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, they went away after him”. It does not comment any further as to what their activity was, but I think the indication is that it had His approval. The activity they were engaged in was good and an activity to be approved of, the action of repairing. Our brother has spoken about what is valuable, and no doubt a net would be valuable to these fishermen. Obviously they could not engage in the activity without a net that was complete and whole. To make that possible when damage has come in, it has to be repaired. Sometimes repair jobs are meticulous and take a lot of patience and skill, and you can apply that in many ways. It is not always an easy activity, but it is a very necessary one if the net is to become whole again and be useable. I think the same applies in other spheres too. The activity of repairing is to be lauded. When breaches come in, there is a need for the activity of repairing. Of course, it has to be on a right moral basis - that would be obvious - but I think the activity is a right one, one that we can all engage in.

It led me to that scripture where we read in Isaiah. I do not mean to say much about it but I was just struck in reading it. It speaks of repairing and puts things on a moral basis, God speaking to His people about the fast that they held, and about how He is not wanting outward correctness or superficiality. What is acceptable to Him is that they “loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, and to send forth free the crushed, and … break every yoke … deal thy bread to the hungry”. They are all activities that God would approve of. He says, if you are on that line, “Then shall thy light break forth as the dawn, and thy health shall spring forth speedily; and thy righteousness shall go before thee, the glory of Jehovah shall be “take away from the midst of thee the yoke”, that is, putting burdens upon persons unduly, “the putting forth of the finger and the unjust speech, and thou proffer thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul”. All these activities are right and pleasing in the sight of God; that is what He is interested in. “Then shall thy light rise in the darkness, and thine obscurity be as mid-day; and Jehovah will guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought” and so on. “And they that come of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations that have remained from generation to generation” - there was the going back and establishing what was right in God’s sight - “and thou shalt be called, Repairer of the breaches, restorer of frequented paths” or ‘paths of habitation’ as the note says.

I just feel the desirability of being occupied on this line, the line of repairing what is broken, “Repairer of the breaches”, and the way that God speaks here indicates the kind of realm where He takes account of things and indicates what is morally right in His sight. I think the word speaks for itself, and I desire that we should be all exercised if breaches come in that we should be before God and perhaps identify in ourselves anything that is not according to God that may be contributing to such a condition, and see that we judge that in ourselves; and then, having done that, we are competent to address these issues which God raises with His people. We must seek to act rightly in His sight if there is anything of these activities that God speaks of so seriously, that these things are all judged and a right basis is laid for the establishment of what is good and right in God’s sight, and repair can take place. It is much easier to rend a garment than it is to repair it.

I trust that the word will be for profit and for our blessing in our consideration of this matter. I trust that we will all be engaged in this activity of repairing or, as Matthew’s gospel speaks of it, “mending”, Matt 4: 21. I believe the Lord would have us to consider this matter before Him.

May it be so for His Name’s sake!


Word in meeting for ministry in Dundee

28th February 2017