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?
As a follower of Christ Jesus, I know that I am called to serve Him in my everyday, ordinary life. I believe that He has equipped me, has made me just so, and has planted me in this particular place to serve His purpose. What it looks like is me in a relationship with Him so that I am ready when He asks me to action. I have not; however, thought about "the call" as a command and not as an invitation. As a believer, I am happy to follow His command. I rest in knowing that should He want me to go to an uncomfortable place, He will prepare my heart to go happily for Him. That is scary even in just typing the answer, but I have seen Him change me in many ways, so I know He would do this too.
Yes I do believe he calls us in our everyday life. In my job I have to lead many people and I constantly ask myself what is the way Jesus would want me to show up. How would he want me to treat people? I never thought about it as a command but now reflecting on it with that lens it makes the urgency and importance of what having him in your life means to your external life.
I want to follow the command of Jesus. I am now choosing every day to commit myself and surrender my life to Jesus, but I don’t often expect him to actually use me in the typical day to day. Maybe I should!
Looking at how He interacted with Simin’s MIL…
Her response to her healing encounter with Jesus was to serve. He didn’t heal hear because he needed a sandwich. He healed her because that’s who he is. Life giver. Healer. Her response was to serve him and to tell others and open her home so that others can experience Him.
It’s the same response I should have today. I have experienced His hand and healing in my life. My genuine response should be the same as hers: serve Him. Tell others. Open my home to facilitate the introduction. There’s nothing more personal than my home. It’s where my heart is. Opening my home is like opening my life.
As I enter into this next season of traveling and SP, this is my big picture plan: Serve Him. Tell others.
His command to follow him was followed by demonstrations of how obedience will help others find hope, healing and follow Him.
Yes, He calls me to be His witness everyday day in how I act and speak.
Yes, He calls me to be His witness everyday not only with what I say but also in how I act.
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