Mark 1:14-20

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

The story of Jesus moves very quickly through the arrest of John the Baptist and Jesus’ calling of his first disciples. We can assume that there is much more backstory that Mark does not feel the need to share with us about these events. Join the narrative where Mark presents it and feel free to ask questions about the text and the characters who are about to have their lives turned upside down by Jesus Christ. These questions are not necessary to understand the text, but they can help to give us a human perspective to what might have been going through the minds of the first disciples when Jesus called them.

  • How many times had Jesus previously met Simon and Andrew?
  • What was Jesus’ relationship with their family and the broader community?
  • Had Jesus ever joined the guys in their daily work fishing?
  • What were Jesus conversations with them like before he threw out the bomb “follow me?”
  • How long had James and John been considering following Jesus?
  • What did Zebedee think about his sons leaving him with the hired servants?
  • Were other people in their circle immediately influenced to follow Jesus?

What is made abundantly clear from this passage is that Jesus’ call always demands a response. Austin makes three observations about the demands of the Gospel of Jesus.

  1. The Gospel demands a genuine heart response.
  2. The Gospel demands an actionable response.
  3. The Gospel demands a sacrificial response.

The urgency that Jesus gave to his first disciples should tell us much about the urgency of following Him today.

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think Jesus was so urgent in calling people to follow him?
  • How is fishing for people different from fishing as a job?
  • How is fishing for people similar to fishing?
  • What sorts of things are difficult to give up immediately to follow Jesus?
  • In what ways was it painful or scary for you to follow Jesus in your own life?
  • How do you know when Jesus is asking you to leave something to follow him today? 
  • What “fishing business” do you think God might be calling you to leave?
Jonathan Pugh
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