Jesus Begins His Ministry and Calls Disciples
John the Baptizer is arrested by Herod. Jesus begins his ministry preaching, “The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news!” Jesus calls Simon (Peter), Andrew, James, and John as disciples. They immediately leave their jobs and families to follow Jesus.
In Mark 1:14-20 we see Jesus seemingly spurred on to start His public ministry by John the Baptizer’s arrest. Mark 1:14-15 says Jesus went, “preaching the good news, of God: ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news!’” Edwards says that Jesus, “proclaimed the gospel, but he also was the gospel.” Going even further, Edwards later says that, “In Jesus of Nazareth, the kingdom of God makes a personal appearance.” Jesus is the gospel and He is the kingdom, rule, and reign of God. He commands us to repent and believe in the proclamation that God’s kingdom, rule, and reign has come, through Himself. “The gospel, as it is proclaimed by and present in Jesus, can remarkably be summarized in a single indicative: the divine blessing is present in ‘the kingdom of God,’ and the human obligation is contained in two simple imperatives, ‘repent’ and ‘believe,’” (Edwards).
Mark 1:16-20 shows the call of Simon (Peter) and Andrew and James and John. Wright says, “The way Mark tells the story sends echoes ringing back through scriptures, the larger narrative of God’s people. ‘Leave your country and your father’s house,’ said God to Abraham, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’ Abraham, like Peter and the others, did what he was told, and went where he was sent.” Edwards says, “The call to the four fishermen is rooted not in the Torah, nor even in the name of God, but in Jesus’ messianic authority alone… Unlike rabbinic aspirants, the fishermen are not required to do anything before they become disciples; they need not exhibit knowledge of the Torah or pass a qualifying examination in theology.” All they must do is have faith; repent and believe.
Jesus’ proclamation was that the kingdom, rule, and reign of God had come in proximity, near to us, and that we should repent and believe in that good news. A momentous occasion in the history of the world had taken place. The kingdom of God was at hand in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Peter, Andrew, James, and John each responded to the call of Christ to follow Him as Abraham listened to a similar call. Are we willing to listen and follow in the same way as the disciples, and Abraham before them? To live in such a way where we are continually following, repenting, and believing? I join in with the father’s prayer in Mark 9, Lord, “I do believe, help my unbelief!”
I am using two commentaries to help me study the Gospel of Mark. They are N. T. Wright’s Mark For Everyone from The New Testament for Everyone series, and The Gospel according to Mark from The Pillar New Testament Commentary series by James R. Edwards, Jr.