King James New Version The Old And New Testament List Four Fishermen and the Command to Follow Jesus (Mark 1:16-20)

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Four Fishermen and the Command to Follow Jesus (Mark 1:16-20)

When reading the first chapter of Mark, one is fascinated by this quick account of Jesus’ early ministry. In rapid-fire succession we see Jesus traveling from Nazareth to the Jordan River, where John the Baptist baptizes him. Then the Spirit sends him into the desert for 40 days to fast and be tempted by the devil.

This brings us to Mark 1:14 – “After John was imprisoned, Jesus went into Galilee proclaiming the good news of God.” So John’s imprisonment marks a turning point for Jesus. The disappearance of the forerunner of the Messiah pushes Jesus to take center stage and he goes to Galilee and establishes Capernaum as his base of operations as he travels from town to town in the northern part of Israel.

It is in this context that Mark 1:16-20 presents Jesus’ meeting with two sets of brothers – Peter and Andrew, and James and John. Capernaum is located on the northwest shore of the Sea of ​​Galilee, and one day Jesus was walking along this freshwater lake that served as the commercial center of the region. He sees these four men, hard at work, and simply says to them, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:17).

How do these full-time anglers react? “Immediately they left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:17).

I’ve always been a little confused by this story. It’s as if Jesus came to these men and said, “Men, it’s time for a career change. From now on, you’re not going to fish for a living. You’re signed up for my full-time discipleship. Get out of those boats, leave work, pack your bags and come with me!”

And they did exactly what he told them to do! Peter and Andrew left their nets “immediately” and followed Jesus (Mark 1:18). James and John did the same – “they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him” (Mark 1:20).

It all seems so sudden, doesn’t it? Did these four men know what they were getting into? Did they have any previous contact with Jesus?

Fortunately, we can turn to John’s gospel to answer these questions. Mark’s Gospel does not tell us that at least three of these four men had previous contact with Jesus. But Mark chose not to tell us about some events that occur between Mark 1:11 (the baptism of Jesus) and Mark 1:12 (the fasting of Jesus in the wilderness) that John records and shed much light on Mark 1:16-20.

Therefore it would be good for us to read John 1:19-50, where we read a detailed account of four days in the ministry of John the Baptist. Here we see John interacting with the religious leaders about his identity. He denies being the Messiah and tells them that the Messiah is on his way (vv. 19-28). Then Jesus comes to the Jordan River to be baptized and we see John interacting with Jesus and telling everyone that Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world… I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God” (vv. 29, 34).

Here we see that John has his disciples – men he has taken under his wing in order to lead them to Jesus. It turns out that Peter and Andrew were among these disciples of John the Baptist. When Jesus comes to the Jordan, John the Baptist first introduces Andrew to Jesus. Immediately, Andrew goes to Peter and says: “We have found the Messiah” (vv. 35-41). Then Andrew introduces Peter to Jesus, and Jesus gives him a new name (v. 42), telling him that “You are Simon… You shall be called Cephas.” (“Cephas” is Aramaic for “Peter”.)

Also, there is another disciple of John the Baptist who was introduced to Jesus along with Andrew. Since this other disciple is not named, it is likely that he was John, the brother of James. This John (not to be confused with John the Baptist), together with Andrew, are therefore the two disciples who are introduced to Jesus by John the Baptist and who spend a whole day with Jesus (v. 39).

Now, with all this in mind, turn to Mark 1:16-20. Now we know that Jesus has already met Peter, Andrew and John. It is also likely that several months have passed since their first meeting at the Jordan River. After his baptism and 40-day fast, Jesus travels back to Galilee and settles in Capernaum, where he again meets the fishermen and commands them to become his full-time disciples.

Knowing that Peter, Andrew and John were disciples of John the Baptist and had met Jesus by the Jordan River – doesn’t that help to better understand what is happening when Jesus says to them “Come, follow me” by the Sea of ​​Galilee ? I think yes.

When we read Mark 1:16-20, it may seem to us that this is the first time these men have met Jesus. But it isn’t. They have spent time with Jesus before and heard him preach and seen him perform miracles. This man Jesus is not a stranger to them.

At the same time, there is something significant in the way Jesus calls these men to follow him. Jesus is the Christ (Messiah, King) – Mark has told us this in no uncertain terms in Mark 1:1. And he demonstrates the authority of a king when he tells these people to leave their nets and start a new life.

Jesus continues to call people to him with authority. He does it every day through his Word, the gospel, which is not so much an “invitation” as a “command” — the command to repent of your sin (experience a radical change of heart toward Jesus, then turn and go in the opposite direction) and follow Jesus. The Gospel is the Good News that the King has come and he is building his kingdom by saving sinners and transforming them from within to have radically different attitudes and behaviors that match his purposes and desires.

Like the fisherman, maybe you’ve met Jesus before, but you’re not following him now. It is common in America for people to have had some exposure to Christianity as children, often attending church and Sunday school with their parents, but then lose interest and leave the faith as adulthood approaches.

And so I write this article to encourage you to re-examine the claims of Jesus. He is standing at the door of your heart with a simple command—the same command He gave to the fishermen—”Come, follow me.” Will you obey this order, or will you continue to ignore it? This is the most important question you will ever read: How will you respond to Jesus’ command to follow him?

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