Journey through Mark | Mark 1:16-20 (PART 1C)
Updated: Jul 24, 2020
In our last reflection, we answered the question of how people enter this new reality of living a life under the Lordship of Christ. In the next following verses, Mark’s gospel provides an example for the new disciples to understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. As Jesus passed alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting nets… they were fishermen. A fisherman during these times in Galilee was consider what we would call today a middle-class citizen. Economic or class distinctions were less clear during first-century Galilee than for us today. However, we can see how Simon and Andrew represent many of us who are part of the working class in America.
In first-century Galilee, the people experience what we would call today economic inequality. We touch lightly on this during Part 1B of this series. The point I want to make now… and again and again throughout this reading… is that their world was not that different from ours. Early Galileans had families to support like we do, but most of the people were very poor to provide a “good life” to their children. Today, nations continue to practice this form of unfair economic distribution. However, how were the earliest disciples call to follow Jesus in the mist of this unjust economic distribution? We will continue our reading to see what the story reveals.
Jesus called Simon and Andrew, and they left their nets immediately to follow him (1:18). This means they had to sacrifice their businesses and way of life to become “fishers of men.” Next, Mark presents another example… he calls James and his brother John… they too immediately left their family and line of work to follow Jesus. By leaving their dad Zebedee tending the boat with their “hired” men tells us they were a little better well off than most people in the area. But, how is the Lord calling these disciples to use their resources? First, they must learn from Jesus Christ to become what their teacher promised. But what is their motivation to follow Jesus?
There is an obvious gap here that is not answer for us in the gospel story up to this point… why would the new disciples follow Jesus? As I have previously suggested, this gospel is written to instruct new believers, but we must assume these early disciples knew who Jesus was based on the oral communication of the gospels that came prior to the written gospels. To them… “Jesus was the Son of God” or “The Messiah.” Mark’s audience must of have firsthand insight about the great deeds and faith of Simon Peter and the other disciples. The gaps in the story may be illusive to us because we are not hearing the story in is initial context. However, I believe the story up to this point is pointing to the authority of Jesus as we will see in the next verses. The authority of Jesus is not to be misunderstood with modern authoritarians who use fear mongering to obtain political support. Neither is to be mixed with a false sense of justice that seeks to destroy once enemies at all cause so that one’s political party is in control of a nation. As we will see soon, Jesus enemies were powers, principalities, and demon spirits; not human beings made in the image of God.
In sum, the Lordship of Christ is to be an authority over the disciple’s lives. Before the Lord can teach them anything, the disciples must submit their complete alliance to the Lord. Their alliance to Jesus comes ahead of their families and family business. That is, there alliance to Christ’s Lordship came prior than their alliance to the nation. This is not typical of the culture in first century Judaism. According to one source, Jewish teachers in Jesus day thought that the greatest commandment was to love one’s parents. Does this sound like our culture? I believe it does! As a Hispanic American, I was thought to place my family and country first by my culture, but Mark’s gospel clearly defies this teaching in these vivid examples of the call of the disciples. Mark is telling us through his gospel that we must first submit our alliance to the Lord. With whom does your alliance rest? Our trust in these present times, and for what is to come in the near future, should rest within this understanding… regardless of our disorganized culture. Next, we will go into Jesus’ first manifestations in the Holy Spirit according to the gospel, which present Jesus as an exorcist.