In our Sunday morning worship gatherings, we’ve been teaching from the Gospel of Mark. We’ve encouraged everyone to read through the book of Mark during this series. It’s a short book and very accessible. Mark’s goal with his narrative of Jesus’s life is to show us in short succession the life and actions of Jesus. You’ll notice that Mark’s account has less about what Jesus said and includes mostly the things Jesus did.
During this sermon series we are not able to teach on every portion of Mark. So, I wanted to focus on something in chapter one. Jesus’s calling of the disciples. Mark only dedicates five verses in chapter one to this subject. We see another short glimpse in chapter two when Jesus recruits Levi (Matthew) to discipleship. That’s it. It’s all we get from Mark. But it’s a powerful interaction and one that we would do well to pay close attention to.
16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.
19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
What is Mark telling us about what’s involved in following Jesus? Remember, Mark kept his narrative brief. Therefore, if he included it (even if only in five verses) it’s important.
Frist, Jesus sees you. That’s right. Jesus sees potential. He sees any kernel of faith. These men were close to the bottom of the social ladder. They hadn’t been smart enough to be studying under a rabbi, so they had to return to their homes and take on the trade of their fathers. But Jesus saw more. Jesus always sees more in you. You may think you’ve put in your time in ministry. Maybe you’ve been coasting in your faith journey in a comfortable place. Maybe you’re just tip-toing into faith and so you’re guarded and holding back. Most of us think that we can plan and execute our own version of discipleship. Is that you? Jesus sees more.
Second, Jesus calls you to follow. Now, that seems pretty obvious. We use the word “follow” a lot to describe our faith in Jesus. However, believing and following can be two very different things. Truthfully, the first disciples followed before they believed. Have you ever thought about that? They may have had some idea of who Jesus was and what he was doing. If so, it was limited at best. Jesus asked for their trust, and he invited them to leave their old way of life and follow him. Literally. As they watched him, walked with him, listened to him, and learned from him, then, their belief and faith was built. But they started by following. I have a strong inclination that many of us claim beliefs about Jesus, but we’ve never actually started to follow him. What would that look like for you?
Third, Jesus commissions you to go after people. This isn’t a call only to Jesus’s first disciples. Nor is it a task only for those with the spiritual gift of evangelism. We get that from Jesus’s final command to his followers in Matthew 28. We also see the early church explode with growth (and the original 12 disciples could not possibly have done all the sharing). Those who followed Jesus went after people. Period. It wasn’t a side gig for them. It’s not as if worshipping Jesus was primary and if they happened to run into a non-believer, they might toss out a few hints about Jesus. No. Every Jesus-follower knew that they had been called into a new way of life which changed their thinking completely about their duty toward one another. They had discovered the love of their Heavenly Father. And love would be their primary mode of operation to draw others to him as well.
What would it be like for you if you went back to the beginning? What I mean is: What if you set aside all your religious history; all that you’ve done or believed; and simply set out to follow Jesus? If you were, today… right now… for the first time, called by Jesus to follow him. How would you respond? What would be the first thing you would do? Where would you go? What would you leave behind?
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