MAIN TEXT: MARK 1:14-20
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
The gospel of Mark is tucked away between the longer and more detailed accounts of Matthew and Luke and lacks the writing flair of John. This book was inspired by the Holy Spirit and included in the canon of scripture to build us up in the faith. It was written to Gentiles in Rome - which makes it relevant for Christians who lack a Jewish background today.
This Gospel account does not focus much on what Jesus said, but rather what Jesus did and who He was. Mark 8:27-30 is a key point of the Gospel. “Who do you say that I am?” Mark takes pains to show that Christ is the Son of God in flesh. Jesus’ power and authority emphasized in Mark demonstrate that He is like no other man.
Today’s text shows us that Jesus came to inaugurate His kingdom by proclaiming the message of the gospel. His plan was and still is that faithful followers would carry His message to all people. Jesus’ words and actions in these verses bring together essential elements for building His kingdom.
- A compelling vision: “I will make you become fishers of men.” In other words, you will play a part in building My kingdom – the kingdom of God.
- A few good people: Simon (Peter) and Andrew (verses 16 & 19); James and John (verse 19).
- A great leader: Jesus – the Christ – the Son of God.
Those of us that follow Christ today are now to live as citizens of His kingdom. Therefore…
we must proclaim the right message
Jesus calls His followers to fish for people. Rather than hooks, bait, or nets, we are to use a powerful and compelling message. The message that Jesus proclaimed, that the early disciples proclaimed, and that the early church proclaimed is the same message that we must proclaim today.
Jesus begins His preaching once John the Baptist is in prison. He will proclaim the gospel and in fact, He IS the gospel! Jesus message can be broken down into four components.
The time is fulfilled
Jesus announced that “the time has been fulfilled” (verse 15). The one that the one John spoke of in verse 7 has appeared! This was a critical moment in history – Jesus’ Galilean ministry (away from unbelieving Jerusalem) – has commenced.
The Kingdom of God has come near
“The Kingdom of God is at hand” (verse 15). Jesus taught this truth and communicated that there were both present and future realities of the Kingdom. The Kingdom has been inaugurated through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, but it will not be fully realized until the future. Jesus proclaimed the kingdom as “already” but also “not yet”.
Jesus’ appearance meant that the kingdom of God had drawn near. The person of Jesus causes people to be confronted with the kingdom – the reign of God. What should our response be? Jesus gives His hearers two commands.
This is not considered a positive word in our culture today. To repent is to change your mind or opinion about God. When this is genuinely done, it always will lead to a change in behavior. It is turning to the Savior and away from sin. A call to repent was included in the preaching of John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, and Paul. Repentance is at the core of our response to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Believe in the good news
Repentance and belief go hand in hand. To believe is to trust. As followers of Jesus we are to live in a state of repentance and trust. This must not be a momentary or one-time decision. This requires a total transformation of our life orientation. The Servant King has come and rightly demands that we follow and obey.
we must find the right people
Christ’s followers must embody His message in order to get it out and have lasting impact. Jesus chooses two sets of brothers – all successful fishermen: Simon (Peter) and Andrew (verses 16 & 19); James and John (verse 19).
Verse 17 breaks the norm for how aspiring students chose to follow rabbis. Normally the students seek out the respected rabbi. They would follow him if accepted, but their allegiance was to the Law – not the teacher. Jesus seeks them out and their allegiance will be to Him.
Jesus looks for men and women who will commit to Him, who will learn from Him, and who will deny themselves, take up their cross and follow him (Mark 8:34). As the Son of God He has this authority and right to ask of this.
Jesus saying that they will become fishers of men is more than a play on words. God has always fished for people to spare them from judgment. This is an Old Testament metaphor (Jeremiah 16; Ezekiel 29; Amos 4). The fishermen do not hesitate – they left their father and hired hands on the boat! This forsaking everyone and everything else to follow Him is more than hyperbole (Matthew 10:34-37; Mark 3:33-35; Luke 14:26). All other loves must pale in comparison.
we must follow the right master
There is only one right Master to follow in life and into eternity – His name is Jesus! His authority in calling His disciples and the immediacy of their responses makes you realize the power of Jesus that demands such obedience.
See who He is
We are to follow Jesus. He is – the Christ (verse 1); the Son of God (verse 1); the Lord (verse 3); the mighty One (verse 7); the worthy One (verse 7); the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (verse 8); the Spirit-anointed One (verse 10); the beloved Son (verse 11); the One who pleases God (verse 11); and the One who brings the kingdom of God (verse 15).
See what He does
Mark will teach us – just in the first chapter - that Jesus is an astonishing teacher, One with authority, the Holy One of God, able to cast out demons and cleanse lepers.
The Kingdom of God has come near because Jesus came. Everything has changed. Nothing will ever be the same again – these are universal realities. The hour of decision is now. What will your response be?
Jesus calls you to follow Him!
APPLY TO LIFE
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.