40-Day Challenge: 4 Gospels in 40 Days: Day 1 (Mark 1, 2) – Radical Discipleship


“As [Jesus] went along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishermen). Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people.’ They left their nets immediately and followed him. Going on a little farther, he saw James, the son of Zebedee, and John his brother in their boat mending nets. Immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.” Mark 1:14-20 (NET)

“Jesus went out again by the sea. The whole crowd came to him, and he taught them. As he went along, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at the tax booth. ‘Follow me,’ he said to him. And he got up and followed him.” Mark 2:13-14 (NET)

I cannot count how many times, over the years, I have read this account in Mark’s gospel about how Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Levi (also known as Matthew) immediately left everything and responded to Jesus’ call to follow him. Yet I have found that whenever I read these passages, the radical nature of their behavior always grabs my attention. They immediately left everything to follow Jesus! Really? Immediately? Left everything? They left their professions? (Peter, Andrew, James and John were skilled in the relatively lucrative profession of fishing and Matthew was most certainly a wealthy, although despised, tax-collector.) They left their families? (Peter was married – his mother-in-law is mentioned in Mark 1:29. James and John were in the fishing business with their father.) They left everything to follow an itinerant preacher from an obscure town called Nazareth?

At first glance, their decision to immediately leave everything seems somewhat rash or even irresponsible. But when we read John’s gospel, we learn that this account in Mark’s gospel was not the first time these two sets of brothers had encountered Jesus. Andrew and John had been disciples of John the Baptist before Jesus came on the scene and they had heard John the Baptist testify about Jesus. Furthermore, Andrew and John had spent an entire day getting to know Jesus after his baptism. Eventually, both Andrew and John came to introduce their respective brothers to Jesus. Also, all of these men had accompanied Jesus to the wedding feast in Cana where he turned water into wine and they had seen Jesus perform many miracles prior to this event recorded by Mark. Furthermore, John the Baptist was in prison when Jesus called upon these men to enter into a deeper commitment — a commitment that involved not only OBSERVING Jesus but also SERVING Jesus.

“If anyone wants to serve me, he must follow me, and where I am, my servant will be too.” (John 12:26). The call to follow Jesus is a call to SERVE Jesus. It is a call to PARTICIPATE in Jesus’ salvation mission. It is a call to ACTION. It is a call to FULLY COMMIT. It is a call to RADICAL discipleship, no matter the cost.

Lord, I want to follow you and to be wherever you are at work in the world. Please help me to never hesitate but to immediately respond to your call to serve at your side each day as you form me so that I can participate in your radical kingdom work.

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