The Arrest of John the Baptist (1:14) Jesus begins his Ministry (1:14-15) Jesus calls Simon and Andrew (1:16-18) Jesus calls John and James (1:19-20)
Up until this point, Mark testified that three things occurred prior to Jesus beginning his ministry: The appearance and prophecy of John the Baptist (Mark 1:1-8), the baptism of Jesus (Mark 1:9-11), and the temptation of Jesus (Mark 1:12-13). All of these things were purposeful. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus. Jesus was baptized as a mark of ordination, and received the Holy Spirit and approval of God the Father. Jesus was tempted to experience human weakness and demonstrate his power over Satan. Here, Mark briefly inserts a fourth: the arrest of John the Baptist. Though the reference appears casual, it is hardly to be ignored. The mission of Jesus did not begin until after the arrest of John the Baptist. Mark does not describe the circumstance of John’s arrest here, though they are later mentioned in detail (Mark 6:17-29). John’s arrest serves as another marker for the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. John’s work as the forerunner of Christ was complete; as his ministry came to an end, the ministry of Christ began. (John 3:22-36).
Jesus began preaching that the time, as appointed by God, had been fulfilled for God’s people to be restored to him. Jesus used the phrase “Kingdom of God”. The Jews were anticipating the Messiah would reestablish the kingdom of Israel, but Christ spoke of a different kingdom. The Kingdom of God was not a physical earthly kingdom. The Kingdom of God refers to the reign of God over all things. God has always been king, but people rejected his rule and their sin separated them from God. Through Jesus, the people could be reconciled unto God, and within God’s Kingdom. Jesus said the kingdom was at hand. The kingdom was close, not distant, and the kingdom was now, not in the future. Jesus urged the people should repent. Repentance is the admittance of wrongdoing before God and to others, acknowledging the need for God’s forgiveness, and requesting his forgiveness. Jesus links repentance directly to the Kingdom. There can be no access to the Kingdom of God without repentance. Many would doubt the message of Jesus, but the coming of the Kingdom was “good news” (the literal meaning of gospel), and Jesus wanted the people to believe it. The gospel–Christ, demanded faith. The gospel in its entirety, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, was just beginning.
Jesus intentionally walked along the Sea of Galilee to find his disciples. Simon, Andrew, John, and James were chosen to be disciples before they ever knew it. There was no deliberation in Christ’s selection. He knew who he was looking for. Fishing was a common occupation and these men were common men. They had no privileged status, no grand education or theological training. Yet they were not unskilled. Fishing required patience, direction, tenacity, intelligence, faith, and hard work. These were all qualities that would be of service to Jesus. Above all however, Jesus choose these men because their hearts were ready to receive what he taught. It is remarkable that these disciples, who become the “inner circle” of Jesus’ ministry, were two sets of brothers. Stories of brotherhood in the Bible, such as of Jacob and Esau, or Joseph and his brothers, are full of jealously and dispute, even deception. However, the unique bond of brotherhood was designed for God’s service, and in Christ is in its perfect form. The selection of brothers for his disciples is the beginning of Christ’s instruction on a renewal of self and a foreshadowing of the Christian brotherhood to be established.
When Jesus saw Simon and Andrew, they actively working, casting their net to sea. They had their own lives and business they were attending to, but Jesus told them to follow. It was an invitation to follow his lead. Jesus told them he would make them fishers of men, meaning he would train and teach them to spread the gospel and draw people to Jesus and into God’s Kingdom. Simon and Peter demonstrated their willingness by leaving their nets and following Jesus. John and James were mending their nets, preparing for their work. Jesus wanted to prepare them for his work, so he called them, and they answered by leaving their father Zebedee on the boat to follow Jesus. The note that Zebedee had hired servants indicates that his business was fairly successful, and John and James abandoned a good living.
Christ came to reconcile us to God. As sinners, we have separated ourselves from God, but through Jesus Christ, we can be restored to God, if we repent and believe in him. Jesus does not care what your worldly status is. He wants you to be part of God’s Kingdom. He does not care if you are educated and have a college degree or no education at all. It does not matter whether you are rich or poor. He does not care what color you are or what language you speak. He does not care how old or young you are. You are welcome in Jesus Christ, but you must admit your sins. You must acknowledge your need for God’s forgiveness. You have to repent, and you have to believe. We cannot enter the Kingdom of God if we deny we sin, if we refuse to acknowledge there is sin, or if we love our sin more than God. God has appointed a time and purpose for all things (Ecc. 3:1), and God’s purpose and plan cannot be undone. Jesus Christ is that plan for your redemption. He beckons you to follow.