The Radical Calling (Mark 1:16-20) (2024)

The Radical Calling (Mark 1:16-20) (1)

The Radical Calling

Read: Mark 1:16-20

Rushing down the tracks, Jesus’ ministry quickly brings others along with him. It should be striking that Christ, the Word by which all things were created, the one who does not need to be served by any human hands(Acts 17:25), quickly calls others to join him in his ministry. Who’s sake was that for? Why would he invite others to join him? What kind of people could be used in that capacity?

We find some answers to those questions In this section of the Gospel of Mark as he speeds through two scenes of Christ’s initial ministry along the Sea of Galilee. Each one is slightly nuanced, but for the most part, they are repetitious accounts illustrating the same three truths: Christ’s initiative, plans, and authority. Themes that could be said to permeate the entire first chapter. So, let’s begin with the gaze of Christ.

The King’s Eye

Both accounts, with Simon and Andrew as well as James and John, begin with the simple phrase he saw. As Jesus passed along the sea of Galilee and went throughout Galilee proclaiming the Gospel, he would have seen many people, talked to many people, and cared for many people. But these two accounts highlight the seeing of Christ as important to the calling of these four men. This seeing must be something unique. It at least is a reminder that these disciples were not the ones looking for Christ. They were going about their typical day at their job, but Christ took notice of them and initiated the conversation. This might lead one to ask, “What about them caught Christ’s eye to call them to himself?” I think the answer is that nothing about them caught Christ’s eye. Highlighted in the text is the fact that they were fishermen. Fishermen in Christ’s day were not considered the most wholesome of individuals. So, what would be the motivation for the calling? Because he loved them!

Even as Christ sees us, he doesn’t call us because we are amazing and useful people but because he loves us(1 John 4:10, Rom. 5:8-10). He calls us because he desires us to experience the joy of being a part of the kingdom of God. His calling for people like you and me is to equip us to be the ones to tell others.

The King’s Call

As Christ sets his eye on these men, he also speaks and calls to them. His voice is clear, and he asks them to do one thing. “Follow me” is a call that may only consist of two words but is packed with meaning. The call to follow Christ is a call without qualifications. It doesn’t have an end date. It doesn’t have fine print that can be skirted. It doesn’t have limits on how far. It is an all-encompassing call.

This extensive call is a call to observe and to emulate. In other words, when Christ calls his disciples to follow him, he is not just looking for witnesses to testify to the truth of his ministry. He calls for them to observe the truth of his claims, care, and character. Then, they are to emulate the same care and character as they tell others about the truth of His Word. It is summarized well by Paul when he says, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9, ESV)

Finally, this call has a purpose, “U will make you become fishers of men.” The purpose of calling disciples like Peter, Andrew, James, John, and you is to remake you. Whereas they once worked to serve themselves, they will become something that impacts the lives of those around them and, ultimately, the world. While this call was descriptive of his first disciples, it is still a picture of the call of all believers. He has called you to observe, emulate, and share with others the call of the King.

The King’s Demand

The question then is, “How did they respond?” The response of these disciples should illustrate well the kind of response we should have to Christ’s call on our lives. First, they responded without hesitation. In a typical Mark fashion, he describes their obedience as “immediately.” There is no pause or an excuse like those we see in Matthew 8:21ff. Instead, they immediately followed him.

Secondly, they respond without reservation. You do not hear them say let me finish putting up my nets but instead, “They left their nets.” You do not hear them saying what about my father, but “they left their father.” They respond to the demands of Christ’s call with obedience instead of qualification.

These responses signal something that will be made more evident in the next section, but it is worth pointing out now. It signals for us the total authority of Christ in his earthly ministry. This response should affirm the authority of Christ through his Word in our lives. He calls for us to respond to his Word with the same sense of authority, urgency, and abandon.

Take It To Heart

  • As we see Christ initiate his love for you by setting his eyes on you and calling you, how does your heart respond?
  • Christ’s call on your life is just as simple and radical as that of the disciples. What are you holding back from fully following Christ?
  • What excuses do you typically give for not following the commands of God in His Word?
  • How can you be more urgent in your obedience?

Take it To God

  • Acknowledge God’s authority and love.
  • Take time to repent of any areas you refuse to give to the Lord.
  • Thank God for the forgiveness he offers to those who confess their sins.
  • Ask him to help you be radical in your faith.
The Radical Calling (Mark 1:16-20) (2024)


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