Mark 1:14-20 - The Call of Being a Life-Long Disciple

Date: 1/21/2018
More audio from All Saints Church
Type: Sunday Sermon
Topic: Discipleship
Organization: All Saints
Price: FREE

Mark 1:14–20 - Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” 16 As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 19 Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him.

1) The Transition to Jesus’ Ministry (1:14) - There was a necessary transition following the ministry of John the Baptizer who was the “forerunner” to prepare the way for Messiah Jesus. In a very succinct manner Mark shows this transition, indicating that Jesus’ public ministry did not begin until John was imprisoned. The martyrdom of John is also highlighted later in a tragic episode in the Gospel of Mark (ch. 6). “Immediately she [daughter of Herodias] came in a hurry to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter” (6:25). John, awaiting the fulfillment of all the promises, and privileged to be in proximity to the Messiah (even in the womb, no less), still undergoes this fatal persecution due to a flippant decision at a party to impress Herod’s guests. God did not do it they way he expected.

2) The Kingdom of Jesus’ Ministry (1:14b-15) - The “time is fulfilled” is the term kairos, “a favorable, opportune, or significant time as opposed to mere chronology” (Brooks, NAC). Mark uses this word to refer to the present “age” (10:30), “harvest time” (12:2), and an “appointed time” (13:33). It is time for the Messiah’s ministry to begin. “Jesus saw in his own person and ministry the beginning or inauguration of God’s reign” (Harrington, Sacra). “An ancient Jewish prayer reads, ‘May God establish his kingdom in our lifetime,’ and Jesus’ announcement is to be heard in the context of the hope reflected in that prayer’ (Hurtado, UBC). The heralded message is  summarized here as, “the kingdom of God is at hand.” Mark (written to non-Jewish readers) uses “kingdom” (basileia) only about 15 times, where as Matthew uses the term over 50x and Luke 40x. These “sayings make no sense except in a firmly Jewish context . . .  They were announcing that the one true god, the creator, had fulfilled his purpose for Israel and was now, in consequence, addressing the whole world” (Wright, JVG, 227). The Jewish story of the “kingdom of God” means the reign of God, when Yahweh will be Israel’s king and rule, rather than foreign world emperors such as Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Alexander, Antiochus, Herod(s), or Caesar(s). The Jews awaiting an end to exile and the fulness of the prophet’s (new covenant) promises looked forward to such a “kingdom” in which Jerusalem would be lifted up above the nations (E.g., Is. 2, 11, 49, 52ff; Zech. 2; Hag. 2:9). “God’s rule over Israel would usher in the age of justice and peace” (Perkins, NIB). However, God did not do it they way they expected.

3) The Call of Jesus’s Ministry (1:16-20) - This message requires a response, “repent and believe in the gospel.” Repent means (in this context) “to go back again,” “return,” essentially “turn to Yahweh with all one’s being” (Guelich, WBC). This foundational call is linked to calling the disciples to follow Jesus. A characteristic of Mark is the succinct summaries: “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men. Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.” However, Jesus did not become the Rabbi they expected.

Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more