Mark 1:14–28—Jesus begins his ministry
14 Later on, after John was arrested by Herod Antipas, Jesus went to Galilee to preach God’s Good News. 15 “At last the time has come!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Turn from your sins and believe this Good News!” 16 One day as Jesus was walking along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother, Andrew, fishing with a net, for they were commercial fishermen. 17 Jesus called out to them, “Come, be my disciples, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 18 And they left their nets at once and went with him. 19 A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat mending their nets. 20 He called them, too, and immediately they left their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men and went with him 21 Jesus and his companions went to the town of Capernaum, and every Sabbath day he went into the synagogue and taught the people. 22 They were amazed at his teaching, for he taught as one who had real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law. 23 A man possessed by an evil spirit was in the synagogue, 24 and he began shouting, “Why are you bothering us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One sent from God!” 25 Jesus cut him short. “Be silent! Come out of the man.” 26 At that, the evil spirit screamed and threw the man into a convulsion, but then he left him.
27 Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. “What sort of new teaching is this?” they asked excitedly. “It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!” 28 The news of what he had done spread quickly through that entire area of Galilee.
POINTS OF INTEREST:
- “At last the time has come!”—John the Baptist’s message was, “Wait! Something great is coming soon.” He’s pointing to something beyond him. Jesus unabashedly points to himself. His very first sermon is basically, “Now is the moment you’ve been waiting for—I have finally arrived.” When Jesus says, “The Kingdom of God is near!” he is not saying that it is coming soon; he’s saying it is here now. A more precise translation would be “The Kingdom of God is within grasp.” Now that Jesus has arrived, you can reach out and grab the Kingdom of God, because you can reach out and touch him. That’s what’s so incredibly good about the news that Jesus is here.
- “Turn from your sins and believe this Good News”—Jesus announces that you have to turn and believe. Then, he calls four men to follow him. Both pairs leave something and go with him. Mark is giving us a picture of turning and believing. Jesus is not talking about simply changing their minds; he is calling for action. What each of them leaves behind is what most identifies them: Simon and Andrew, the fishermen, leave behind their nets; James and John, the sons of Zebedee, leave their father in the net. While our translation says, “Turn from your sins,” the things that these 4 men leave are not really sinful. Yet, Jesus calls them to leave. It seems that Jesus is concerned that nothing, not even other good things, are a prior allegiance. Becoming a citizen of his kingdom takes that kingdom coming first. If we are going to be followers of Jesus, we too will have to leave something and go. Jesus is asking for big commitment from us: are you willing to drop whatever is most significant to you to come with me? At this point, he doesn’t even tell them where their going. He does, however, promise that he’s taking them somewhere better, and somewhere that has something to do with who they already are. With Andrew and Simon, for instance, he unabashedly calls them away from their identity as fishermen, but he also affirms it. He promises to transform them from being fishermen to being fishers of men—he calls them higher. With us too, Jesus has a call for us that will take dropping other things that identify us in order to be given even better versions of those same things.
- “Even evil spirits obey his orders”—earlier we hear that Jesus had been tempted by Satan, but we don’t know how it went. Here, we see that Jesus must have been victorious over Satan; he comes from the wilderness with authority over Satan’s demons.
- The demon in the synagogue—We see here that the arrival of Jesus’ kingdom is a re-conquest. There’s a rival kingdom which has gained possession of a lot of ground. You’d think that if anywhere would have already belonged to the Kingdom of God, it would be a synagogue; but when Jesus goes to the synagogue he finds it occupied by a demon. Jesus is here to take back territory from the devil, and he starts with this one person in this one synagogue. By Jesus’ authority, the Kingdom of God is displacing the rule of evil spirits.
- ‘He taught as one who had real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law’—the message Jesus has is not just nice words. He actually has the power to bring the kingdom of God into a person’s life. He can make what he preaches happen. That is great news for us. Jesus is not just a teacher who tells us how we ought to behave or even how things ought to be. He is effective: he can make it happen. He has the authority to make our lives better. He especially likes to use that authority to free us from evil ones who keep our lives from being what they ought to be.
TAKING IT HOME:
- For you: Jesus says to Simon and Andrew, ‘I will show you how to fish for people.’ But in order to get that promise, they need to leave behind what they already know. They’re fishermen, and perhaps their biggest dream for their lives is to become better, more successful fishermen. Jesus gives them a bigger dream, but it takes dropping the one they had. What is your version of Simon and Andrew’s nets—the things that represent your identity, apart from God? What would it look like to drop them? How would you feel about doing it? It’s hard to drop those things without having something else to pick up. Ask Jesus if he has a call for you like his call to Andrew and Simon to become ‘fishers for people.’
- For your 6: Jesus has real authority to change the lives of your 6. In the synagogue, Jesus teaches, not with words, but with his power. In your prayer for your 6 today, ask Jesus to free your 6 from the clutches of any evil spirits who are ruining their lives. On Jesus’ behalf, use his authority to tell these evil spirits, “Come out.”
- For our church: Pray that more and more, what we have to say will come with authority. We don’t just want to talk about the Kingdom of God; we want to bring the Kingdom of God into people’s lives.