The Gospel of Mark, though second in the New Testament order of the things, was the first gospel written. It is also the shortest Gospel. I suppose if you just wanted the quickest look at what happened in the time of Jesus, then Mark would be the one to read.
But you had better be paying attention. Because the Gospel in Mark is told kind of the way I talk, all rapid fire and all. He moves the story quickly – the words “immediately” or “at once” is used over 50 times. He is completely focused on the ministry of Jesus. You won’t learn about Jesus mother, or His childhood, from reading Mark. Mark IS focused on spiritual warfare, he talks about Jesus casting out demons more than any other Gospel.
So, right in Chapter 1, we see in Mark the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, as well as the call of His first four followers.
Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” The arrest of John brought on the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. Notice that John and Jesus preached the same message – “In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. ”” Matthew 3:1-2 NLT. Matthew was writing specifically to Jews, who always avoided even using the word “Yahweh” out of reverential fear and respect, that’s why he refers to the kingdom of Heaven and not the Kingdom of God, but they are the same thing. Repent of your sins and turn to God, the Kingdom of God is coming. Jesus Himself uses the term “Good News”, referring to the Good News that only He could bring.
Why was John arrested? Why were John, Jesus and all 12 of His apostles (except John) arrested and executed? For talking about spiritual things? For talking about going to heaven when you die? No, principalities and powers don’t care what happens when you die. All these men ultimately died for preaching the Gospel, the Good News, that Jesus is Lord. Their message was threatening to those in power, it is still threatening to those in power. Jesus said “follow me”, Caesar demanded that he be followed. Jesus tells us to follow Him, He is the way the truth and the life. Our rulers tell us “It’s the economy, stupid.” I’m simplifying, but I hope you get the point.
One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him. Moving right along. The first two disciples, Simon (Peter) and Andrew. Throwing their nets into the water, catching fish. It’s what they did. It’s what their father did, what their grandfathers did. They didn’t choose to be fishermen. No one was holding their hand in kindergarten asking “what do you want to be when you grow up?” You learned what you were going to do, you didn’t choose it.
A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets. He called them at once, and they also followed him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men. James and John, sons of Zebedee. Later known as the sons of thunder! Their mother would later ask Jesus to sit them in places of honor next to Himself, she didn’t know what she was asking. Just as they had no idea what Jesus was calling them into. Peter, Andrew, James and John, before there were 12, there were four. Peter, James and John would ultimately be the three that never left Jesus’ side. Together, four fisherman called by a carpenter. Did they have any idea they would change the world. Did they have any idea they were part of something that was about to split history, split time, in two? Call me crazy, but I doubt it.
So – why did they follow Jesus? Who in the world was He? He called these first four, and without questioning, without thinking, each one “at once” dropped their nets and followed Jesus. This is not 2016 America, where the world that is so big is now so small, where people can earn a good living simply based on moving information without moving anything. When these disciples were called, you didn’t just up and leave your home, your job. How would they eat? How would they support their families?
Again, why follow Jesus? Because He’s JESUS!! When He calls, you might not understand what you’re being called to, or why. But you GO. All of these men would follow Jesus to His, and their very own, deaths. That was part of the deal. They didn’t know it, we don’t understand it. But when Jesus chooses us, we follow. We don’t know where it will take us, or what it will cost. But it will take us places we never knew, and maybe don’t want to go. It will cost far more than we imagine.
So why do we follow? Because He’s Jesus.
“Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him. A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets. He called them at once, and they also followed him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men.”
Mark 1:14-20 NLT