Before we start today, I want you to know that I don’t dream up all the ideas written in the devotions on my own. I always read various commentaries to see what others have to say about the verses of each day. As we go through Mark, the primary resource I’m using is Francis Chan’s small group Bible study on Mark, available on RightNow Media.
Mark 1: 14 – 19 NLT
“Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. 15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
Jesus is announcing a totally new time has come. This time is different from any preceding time. The Greek word used for time in verse 14 is kairos. It means a unique special moment. The usual word for time referring to the time of day, week, month, etc. is chronos. Right from the onset, Jesus is saying things are different now – “the Kingdom of God is near”. My presence, God incarnate, starts a whole new time. Many of the Jewish people interpreted this to mean that Israel would become the major political presence in the world. Rome would be gone and Israel would reign. But notice that Jesus doesn’t mention anything political at all. He follows his declaration with “Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” This is about a personal change. God meeting you personally, changing you personally.
This moment recorded in Mark starts Jesus’ ministry on earth. But I want you to think about your own life right now. When was the moment you decided to follow Jesus? When was that moment when you realized you had messed things up – when you admitted you had sinned? That moment when you asked God to forgive you and asked him to be with you always. For some of you, you may remember a specific moment. For others you may remember a time of searching and finally realizing the truth over a period of time. But in either case, do you remember how that moment (or moments) changed your life?
For me, it was when I was 8 years old. I still remember that night when my dad tucked me into bed and I asked him how did you become a Christian. I had listened to our church service broadcast on the radio that night, and it must have got me started thinking. What I do remember is the conversation and prayer with my dad. Later in my first year of university, I started to challenge what I believed. Was it all a hoax that I had accepted just because of the family I was brought up in, and the church we attended? But again, it was a moment as I walked the streets in London one Sunday morning, once again deciding not to attend church, that I experienced a moment when I realized God was present.
If you’re brave, share that moment for you with the rest of us. Or share it with someone you know – a family member or friend – today. You never know how God can use moments like this.
“The First Disciples
16 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon (aka Peter, so named after chapter 3) and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 17 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 18 And they left their nets at once and followed him.
19 A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets. 20 He called them at once, and they also followed him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men.”
Stop and try to visualize those scenes. In both cases two brothers are working in their fishing boats – repairing nets, and doing whatever needed to be done to get ready for the next fishing trip. Jesus comes along and says, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” They got right up and followed Jesus. They dumped what they were doing, and left with Jesus! What? Who would take care of their fishing business? In John and James case, it looked like dad and some hired men would carry on. I wonder what dad thought about that? Just think for a moment. If you were at work, and suddenly someone asked you to follow them, would you get up and leave? Especially when Jesus asked them to leave and “fish for people”. What did that mean? How would you do that? We now know that Jesus was calling them into ministry since they would be key leaders in the new church described in Acts. But did they know that? The fact that they got up, left their business, and followed Jesus is amazing!
Have you ever felt God’s call into some area of ministry? I don’t mean to become a preacher or Bible School professor or a missionary in a foreign country – or some other radical change from your present life. There are people who God calls for those positions – and it could be you. But, God also calls us to be his “ambassadors” in our workplace, in our neighbourhood, in our community volunteer work, etc.. You may be a greeter at the door of a church, or a worker in the church café getting coffee and treats ready for Sunday morning. You may be a Sunday School teacher or a helper in the nursery. You may be the person that the neighbourhood knows will help – to fix things, to shovel snow, whatever. You may be the person with the positive attitude at work, the person who will go the extra step when needed.
Sometimes in our basically comfortable Canadian society and economy, we may sense God asking us to do something, but … it may need some change and do we really want to do that? It might take some extra time and a need to reshuffle our schedule. It might take some extra money and mean a change in our budget. Peter, Andrew, James and John got right up and followed Jesus. They didn’t stop to think about who would take over the business. Are we that bold? Now in this pandemic time, we have time to think and plan changes. Do you sense God calling you to get involved in something? Be brave! Do you think you’ll regret following Jesus?