Sunday

22 January 2012

"Follow me and I will make you ..." (v. 17)

Background

Mark's Gospel gives us an extremely short account of the call of the first disciples. Among the four Gospel writers Mark is known for his brief, terse, almost hurried narrative. He writes as if there is special urgency to his story, a need to tell that will not wait. Like a dying man trying to complete a story to those gathered before his time runs out, or a woman who has raced up the hill with news that must be communicated even if she has not yet got her breath back, Mark cuts out the non essentials to get the tale told. Today's passage is a good example as it gives the answer to none of the questions we might want to ask, such as: did Jesus know these fishermen before this day; what was the reaction of their families to this strange event; and what happened to the business, the nets and the boat? Rather in just six short sentences he conveys the life-changing drama that took these fishermen and changed them forever.

This approach enables us to see some things about the kingdom and discipleship very clearly. And the call of the fishermen gives us clues to both: 

  • The call to discipleship is in the context of the kingdom. Verse 14 sets the context. The disciples (and we) are to follow Jesus as God's kingdom is already breaking into the life of the world. God is at work and we are joining in.
  • The call to follow Jesus is at the same time a call to change. "I will make you..." is an invitation and a promise to the disciples (and to us) of transformation. We will be changed as we follow.
  • There is a cost to discipleship: "And immediately they left their nets and followed him" (v. 18). Mark wants his readers to understand the all encompassing nature of responding to the call of Jesus. It is not an add-on, nor an optional, spare time activity. It is costly and demanding, and requires a full and total response.

 

To Ponder

Where have you seen the signs of God's kingdom recently?

In what ways is God asking you to change at this moment?

Reflect on Christians you admire: what has been the cost to them of following Jesus?

Bible notes author: The Revd Dr Roger Walton

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