If Mark had had the opportunity to record this story as a film instead of written text, verses 14 and 15 would mark the transition from the setup to the heart of the first act. We might see John the Baptist taken away in chains (more on that later) and a cut to Jesus walking onto the scene.
Jesus Comes with Authority
Jesus Begins to Preach
Do you notice anything striking about Jesus’ message? His words echo John’s. John called the people to repent of their sins and seek forgiveness. Jesus also calls the people to repent and adds the command to “believe.” So we have to ask, what does it mean to repent and to believe? The Greek word for repent literally means, “to turn and walk the other way.” Imagine a 180-degree pivot—a turning away from sin and a turning to God. Notice the call has two parts, a leaving behind of sin and taking up the ways of God. Sin is anything that differs from God’s will and way of doing things. It can be a harmful action, thought, or word (sin of commission), or not doing something you should (sin of omission).
What does it mean to “believe the good news”? To believe simply means to put your faith in and trust it to be true. We’ll understand what Jesus means by “the good news” as we read more of His message. Keep Mark’s description of the whole book in mind—this gospel of Mark is the beginning of the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (1:1).
Jesus Catches Some Fishermen
Jesus’ ministry began in Galilee. One of the most distinguishing features of the area was the Sea of Galilee, the lowest freshwater lake on earth. A fishing industry thrived along its shores. As Jesus walked along, He called His first disciples. Reread verse 16 and note what Simon (Peter) and Andrew were doing when Jesus called them. They were living their everyday, normal lives. Jesus still calls His disciples in everyday, ordinary circumstances.
“Follow Me.” Jesus’ call to them isn’t a request—it’s a command. And the language Mark uses that emphasizes the urgency of the request. It’s as if Jesus is saying, “Follow Me—right now!” Another detail Mark includes is that the disciples didn’t volunteer. Jesus walked by, commanded them to follow Him, and they obeyed. The same scene repeats itself again in verses 19 and 20. These episodes are the first of several instances when Jesus commands people to follow Him.
A Busy Day in Capernaum
Any ideas these four fishermen had about Jesus had to have been abandoned after their first day with Him. Simon (aka Peter), Andrew, James, and John had never seen someone like this before because there had never been anyone like Jesus before. In one day, Jesus taught with an authority they had never heard before, drove out demons, and healed the sick. Jesus’ ministry became intensely personal to Simon before the sun had set. He saw his own mother-in-law healed of a fever after Jesus took her by the hand and helped her up.
What does Mark want us to understand from this passage? That Jesus came with authority. He taught on His own authority, unlike the scribes who appealed to tradition and other rabbis. He had authority over unclean spirits and authority over illness (notice they understood the difference). Jesus’ ministry is marked by His authority.
Do you believe Jesus calls you to follow Him in your ordinary, everyday life? What might that look like? Have you ever reflected on how Jesus’ call is not simply an invitation but a command to follow Him?
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