15 October 2018Mark 1:14-20
And Jesus said to them, 'Follow me and I will make you fish for people.' (v. 17)
Psalm: Psalm 11:1-5
The passage we have before us today is perhaps one of the most familiar in Mark’s Gospel. Jesus, having been baptised by his cousin, waits until John has been arrested and then begins to speak on his own behalf. Here we see him walking by the Sea of Galilee and, seeing the two men going about their daily work, calls to them. He asks them to follow him and then moves further along the same path to call to James and John, also busy helping out in the family business, and asks them to do the same. And immediately they did just that – Simon and Andrew stopped trying to catch fish, and James and John left their father to it, so to speak, and went with Jesus without even knowing where they were to go, it seems.
In this passage the call of the first disciples seems very stark and almost like a shortened news bulletin. Other writers tell us a little more of the story, although it is understood that Mark’s Gospel was the source document for the other Gospels. I think particularly of John who, in his first chapter, tells his readers that Simon and Andrew were not coming to Jesus totally unaware of who he was. John tells of how the two were already followers of John the Baptist, and that it was John the Baptist who pointed them towards Jesus. When John sees Jesus on the beach and declares “Look here is the Lamb of God”, Simon and Andrew understand and decide to follow him.
It is also in this first chapter of John’s Gospel where we hear Jesus change Simon’s name to Peter, the rock on which the church would be built. In Luke’s Gospel we do not hear the story of the calling of the men but the first mention of Simon is when we read of his mother-in-law being healed from her fever. Perhaps that stuck in Simon’s mind when the call came to follow. Matthew takes Mark as it is written, so to speak, and reiterates the men being called out from their fishing boats to follow Jesus. The central theme being that, however it happened, they all saw something in Jesus and they heard the call to follow him. And they obeyed.
- In what ways have you heard Jesus say “Follow me”?
- What is our role today in encouraging others to “come and see” (John 1:46) Jesus?
- Are you the kind of person who would drop what you were doing immediately to follow Jesus or are you likely to hang back a while? Why?