Reflections on Mark 1:14-20 - The Calling of The First Disciples

Jesus’ coming was the “fullness of time,” because He is the messenger promised in the Old Testament (Galatians 4:4, Ephesians 1:10). Jesus repeats the message of John the Baptist, “Repent and believe in the good news.” The emphasis of Mark’s gospel is that Jesus’ coming is the gospel, the “good news,” a term that in the first fifteen verses of the gospel occurs three times. In this reading, Jesus calls four fishermen at the Sea of Galilee -- Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John. Once again we don’t know what there was about Jesus that led Simon, Andrew, James, John, and others to leave their homes and families to follow Jesus. Did they know Him already? Or was this their first contact with Him? In any case there was something remarkably compelling about Jesus to cause these and others to follow Him into an uncertain future. The astonishing feature of the story is that they followed Jesus with no idea of where it would lead. We know very little of the background of any of the disciples whom Jesus calls. The four in today’s story were fishermen. Matthew was a tax collector (Matthew 9:9). What had the other seven done before Jesus came into their lives? We don’t know for sure. But these would be the persons who would continue Jesus’ work on earth after He left -- ordinary people, like you and me. They were called.

As far as we know, every one of the disciples was chosen and called personally by Jesus. We believe that God calls each one of us. God not only calls us to follow Jesus, but also calls us into the fields and careers of our lives. We often speak of “God’s call” too narrowly, as if God “calls” people only into ordained ministry. That is true: God calls people to be pastors and church workers. But God’s call is not limited to clergy. God calls every single one of us. The Reformation eliminated those distinctions between clergy and lay by affirming that God calls everybody. The word for this call to everyone is “vocation,” from Latin vocatio, “calling.” Everyone has a station in life, probably several stations in how society functions, and this “vocation.” Every job that works to build up and maintain society is a calling -- teacher, insurance salesman, car mechanic, politician, etc. We also have callings within family structures -- mother, father, aunt, uncle, child, etc. We serve God in these family callings as well. God’s call is always into an uncertain future. When we enter into our callings we have no idea how it will all end up. We choose our careers and jobs hoping that we can use the gifts and talents God has given us, but there are no guarantees.

Posted on January 24, 2015 .