13. Jesus Chooses The Four
NOW as Jesus walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon Peter and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. He said unto them,
Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. Follow me.
Straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
When he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were in a ship with their father, mending their nets. He called them: and they left their father in the ship with the hired servants, and followed Jesus.
¶They went into Capernaum; and on the sabbath day Jesus entered into the synagogue, and taught. They were astonished: for his word was with power: he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.
There was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Let us alone, thou Jesus of Nazareth. Art thou come to destroy us? I know who thou art: the Holy One of God.
Jesus rebuked him, saying,
Hold thy peace, and come out of him.
When the unclean spirit had thrown the man in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.
¶Jesus arose, and, when they were come out of the synagogue, entered the house of Peter and Andrew, with James and John.
¶In the morning, rising up a great while before day, Jesus went out into a solitary place, and there prayed.
The people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart. He said,
I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.
Simon and they that were with him followed after Jesus, and when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee. He answered,
Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.
¶And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom. His fame went throughout Syria. And there followed him multitudes from Galilee, and Decapolis; from Jerusalem, and Judea; and from beyond Jordan.
Scripture: Mark 1:14-20
Meditation 1 of 2:
What is the gospel of God which Jesus came to preach? The word “gospel” literally means “good news”. When a king had good news to deliver to his subjects he sent messengers or heralds throughout the land to make a public announcement – such as the birth of a new king or the defeat of an invading army or occupied force. God sent his prophets to announce the coming of God’s anointed King and Messiah. After Jesus was baptised in the River Jordan and anointed by the Spirit he begins his ministry of preaching the gospel – the good news that the kingdom of God was now at hand for all who were ready to receive it.
What is the kingdom of God? The word “kingdom” means something more than a territory or an area of land. It literally means “sovereignty” or “reign” and the power to “rule” and exercise authority. The prophets announced that God would establish a kingdom not just for one nation or people but for the whole world. The scriptures tell us that God’s throne is in heaven and his rule is over all (Psalm 103:19). His kingdom is bigger and more powerful than anything we can imagine because it is universal and everlasting (Daniel 4:3). His kingdom is full of glory, power, and splendor (Psalm 145:11-13). In the Book of Daniel we are told that this kingdom is given to the Son of Man and to the saints (Daniel 7:14,18,22,27). The Son of Man is a Messianic title for God’s anointed King. The New Testament word for “Messiah” is “Christ” which literally means the “Anointed One” or the “Anointed King”. God sent us his Son not to establish an earthly kingdom but to bring us into his heavenly kingdom – a kingdom ruled by truth, justice, peace, and holiness. The kingdom of God is the central theme of Jesus’ mission. It’s the core of his gospel message.
As soon as John the Baptist had finished his testimony, Jesus began his in Galilee, his home district. John’s enemies had sought to silence him, but the gospel cannot be silenced. Jesus proclaimed that the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Jesus takes up John’s message of repentance and calls disciples to believe in the gospel–the good news he has come to deliver. What is the good news which Jesus delivers? It is the good news of peace (restoration of relationship with God – Ephesians 6:15), of hope (the hope of heaven and everlasting life – Colossians 1:23 ), of truth (God’s word is true and reliable – Colossians 1:5), of promise (he rewards those who seek him – Ephesians 3:6)), of immortality (God gives everlasting life – 2 Timothy 1:10), and the good news of salvation (liberty from sin and freedom to live as sons and daughters of God – Ephesians 1:13).
How do we enter the kingdom of God? In announcing the good news, Jesus gave two explicit things each of us must do to in order to receive the kingdom of God: repent and believe. When we submit to Christ’s rule in our lives and believe the gospel message the Lord Jesus gives us the grace and power to live a new way of life as citizens of his kingdom. He gives us grace to renounce the kingdom of darkness ruled by sin and Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44) and the ruler of this present world (John 12:31). That is why repentance is the first step. Repentance means to change – to change my way of thinking, my attitude, disposition, and life choices so that Christ can be the Lord and Master of my heart rather than sin, selfishness, and greed. If we are only sorry for the consequences of our sins, we will very likely keep repeating the sin that is mastering us. True repentance requires a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17) and sorrow for sin and a firm resolution to avoid it in the future. The Lord Jesus gives us grace to see sin for what it really is – a rejection of his love and wisdom for our lives and a refusal to do what is good and in accord with his will. His grace brings pardon and help for turning away from everything that would keep us from his love and truth. To believe is to take Jesus at his word and to recognize that God loved us so much that he sent his only begotten Son to free us from bondage to sin and harmful desires. God made the supreme sacrifice of his Son on the cross to bring us back to a relationship of peace and friendship with himself. He is our Father and he wants us to live as his sons and daughters. God loved us first and he invites us in love to surrender our lives to him. Do you believe that the gospel – the good news of Jesus – has power to free you from bondage to sin and fear?
When Jesus preached the gospel message he called others to follow as his disciples and he gave them a mission – “to catch people for the kingdom of God”. What kind of disciples did he choose? Smelly fishermen! In the choice of the first apostles we see a characteristic feature of Jesus’ work: he chose very ordinary people. They were non-professionals, had no wealth or position. They were chosen from the common people who did ordinary things, had no special education, and no social advantages. Jesus wanted ordinary people who could take an assignment and do it extraordinarily well. He chose these individuals, not for what they were, but for what they would be capable of becoming under his direction and power. When the Lord calls us to serve, we must not think we have nothing to offer. The Lord takes what ordinary people, like us, can offer and uses it for greatness in his kingdom. Do you believe that God wants to work through and in you for his glory?
Jesus speaks the same message to us today: we will “catch people” for the kingdom of God if we allow the light of Jesus Christ to shine through us. God wants others to see the light of Christ in us in the way we live, speak, and witness the joy of the gospel. Paul the Apostle says, But thanks be to God, who in Christ Jesus always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 2:15). Do you witness to those around you the joy of the gospel and do you pray for your neighbors, co-workers, and relatives that they may come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and grow in the knowledge of his love?
“Lord Jesus, you have called me personally by name, just as you called your first disciples, Simon, Andrew, James, and John. Help me to believe your word and follow you faithfully. Fill me with the joy of the gospel that your light may shine through me to many others.”
Scripture: Mark 1:21-28
Meditation 2 of 2:
Do you believe that God’s word has power to set you free and to transform your life? When Jesus taught he spoke with authority. He spoke the word of God as no one had spoken it before. When the Rabbis taught they supported their statements with quotes from other authorities. The prophets spoke with delegated authority – “Thus says the Lord.”When Jesus spoke he needed no authorities to back his statements. He was authority incarnate – the Word of God made flesh. When he spoke, God spoke. When he commanded even the demons obeyed.
Augustine of Hippo (354-430) remarked that “faith is mighty, but without love it profits nothing. The devils confessed Christ, but lacking charity it availed nothing. They said, ‘What have we to do with you (Mark 1:24)?’ They confessed a sort of faith, but without love. Hence they were devils.” Faith is powerful, but without love it profits nothing (1 Corinthians 13). Scripture tells us that true faith works through love (Galalatians 5:6) and abounds in hope (Romans 15:13). Our faith is made perfect in love because love orients us to the supreme good which is God himself as well as the good of our neighbor who is created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26,27). Hope anchors our faith in the promises of God and purifies our desires for the things which will last for eternity. That is why the word of Christ has power to set us free from all that would keep us bound in sin, deception, and despair. Bede the venerable abbot of an English monastery (672-735) contrasted the power and authority of Jesus’ word with the word of the devil: “The devil, because he had deceived Eve with his tongue, is punished by the tongue, that he might not speak” [Homilies on the Gospels 1.8].
Faith is both a free gift of God and the free assent of our will to the whole truth that God has revealed. To live, grow, and persevere in the faith to the end, we must nourish it with the word of God. The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds that we may grow in his truth and in the knowledge of his great love for each of us. If we approach God’s word submissively, with an eagerness to do everything the Lord desires, we are in a much better position to learn what God wants to teach us through his word. Are you eager to be taught by the Lord and to conform your life according to his word?
“Lord Jesus, your word is power and life. May I never doubt your saving love and mercy, and the power of your word to bring healing and deliverance to those in need.”