Mark continues to move at a fast pace. The first impression that Mark presents of Christ after the temptation in the wilderness is that of Christ as the preacher. The Next section is really one big section from Mark 1:14-39, beginning with Christ preaching and Galilee and ending with him preaching in Galilee. Marks Gospel is really one of geography, beginning in Galilee and ending in Jerusalem with the hinge in Mark 8:29, Peter’s confession. Mark arranges the gospel not in chronological order, it would appear Jesus only went to Jerusalem once, however in the Gospel of John he went at least three times (John 2:13, 6:4, 11:55). Mark orders his book around regions not chronological order. Christ comes and preaches in Galilee. His ministry is on of proclaiming the gospel of God.
I. A new King (14)
The first aspect of his proclamation he says, “the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand…” The word fulfilled in used 86 times in the New testament and about 41 of those times referrers to the fulfilment of Scriptures. The only other time it is used like this in the Gospel of Mark is at the betrayal of Jesus in Mark 14:49. When Jesus explains that this must happen for the Scriptures to be fulfilled. All the types and shadows in the old testament pointing to Christ have come when Christ, the promised messiah, began his ministry. The immediate connection made is the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is at hand. The promised King has arrived, who will rule God’s Kingdom forever. Herman Ridderbos explains not that it is closer, but the long-awaited snake crusher is here. “Therefore, the gospel preached here is not merely a promise; nor does it consist solely in the fact that salvation has come nearer. Though still future as regards its perfect consummation, it has fundamentally become a fact at the present moment.” We will see the truth in this over the next few weeks, Jesus is the powerful King who rules with authority and power. More could be said about the Kingdom of God, but time is sparce.
II. A new heart and mind (14-15)
The message is that the Kingdom of God is at hand. However, it is not just an announcement of the Kingdom but a warning. There is no neutrality when it comes to the Gospel. The proclamation of the Gospel is a call to action, and inaction is making a decision. The message is not complicated, repent and believe.
Repent- New Mind
The word is simple to say, even easy to understand however in reality it is one of the most difficult tasks in the world. The Greek words basically means, “Change one’s mind.” Repentance is the foundation of the Christian life but not the only aspect (Heb 6:1). Mark has an emphasis of discipleship throughout his Gospel. The first aspect of a disciple is repentance. John proclaims repentance as turning form judgement; however, Christ proclaims repentance as a connected to salvation, not only avoiding judgment but saved from judgement. Repentance is not merely changing your mind, but because of the change in your thinking your actions have changed. If I truly have recognized a particular food is doing damage to my health, but do not change then I am not convinced, or changed my mind. True repentance is a 180, turning away from sin and towards holiness. Repentance is not a once for all action but repentance unto life is constant in the life of the believer. The first of Martin Luther’s 95 theses was, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”
The call of a disciple is to see that their sin separates them from God. John’s repentance looked at the sinner’s sight and sense of the danger, repent or face judgement. However, Christ’s repentance goes deeper, that the sinner sees the filthiness and odiousness of their sins. The mind is changed because they have seen the Holiness of the King and his Kingdom. Augustine said, “The confession of evil works is the beginning of good works.” The Westminster Confession of faith has a statement which gives us the hope of repentance, “As there is no sin so small, but it deserves damnation; so there is no sin so great, that it can bring damnation upon those who truly repent” (WCF 15.4). No matter how grand and great our sins are true repentance is greater than the greatest sin we have committed. The hope is not just we can avoid judgment, but we can find salvation when we repent.
A sheep may fall into the ditch and defile himself, but he hastens out of it as soon as he can; but the swine chooses a dirty place, wallows all the day long in the mud and mire. A saint may fall into sin, but he hastens to recover himself by repentance. A sinner lives in it day and night.- George Swinnock
Believe- new Heart
The second portion of the message is ‘believe.’ The word believe is from the root word which we get the word faith from. “Repent and [have] faith in the Gospel.” The only person to believe in the first half of Mark’s gospel is Jairus, who Jesus tells him “Do not fear, only believe” (Mark 6:36). The other 8 times all happen after Chapter 8. Abram believed and it was counted to him as righteousness (Gen 15:6). The proclamation of the gospel is found through faith. Paul explains that faith is a gift from God, “For by grace you have been saved through faith [same root word as believe]. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9). Like repentance it is not merely a knowledge of the gospel but true belief. Paul calls this ‘believe in your heart’ (Rom 10:9). Christ’s message is simple repent and believe, however this is not simple in practice. Our hearts are drawn to sin and prone to wander. We do not want to change our minds or our hearts. We are happy where we are. We need the work of the Holy Spirit to change our hearts and minds.
Believing is nothing else but the accepting of Christ for your Lord and Savior, as he is offered to you in the gospel. And this accepting is principally, if not only, the act of your will, so that if you are sincerely and cordially willing to have Christ upon his own terms, upon gospel terms—that is, to save you and rule you, to redeem you and to reign over you—then you are a believer. Your sincere willingness to believe is your faith, and this gift brings you within the compass of the promise of eternal happiness and blessedness. – Thomas Brooks
III. A new Calling (16-18)
Mark the gives us two examples of four men who are called by Jesus as the preacher (Cf. Rom 10:14). The first is that of Simon and Andrew. Mark does not explain that Simon and Andrew knew of Jesus (John 1:35-42). The rapid pace walks along the sea of Galilee and calls Simon and Andrew, to follow him and he will make them fishers of men. He calls them to leave their vocation for a knew vocation. They did not know the details of what discipleship entails however they knew that it would be difficult like fishing for a living. They left their nets and followed Jesus. They left their livelihood to be disciples. Following Jesus was more than just following behind him but sitting under him as their teacher. To seek to be more like Christ in all of their actions. They were not well-educated men, this shows the simplicity of the Gospel message, repent and believe. Their new occupation was not catching fish swimming in the depths of the sea but to catch the souls of men as they wander aimlessly in the darkness. Fish do not want to be caught, nor do men want to walk in the light. The disciple is to emulate Jesus, the third and final time repentance is used in the Gospel of Mark is found in Mark 6:12, when the disciples proclaimed, “that people should repent.” Some might be pastors, and teachers however, all disciples are called to fish. They are called to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.
Those who are specifically called to be fisher men is that of Minsters, all are called to proclaim the Gospel but specifically the first example in the New Testament of the office, is not one of a shepherd, or overseer, but a fisher of men. Pray that Gospel Ministers would see their calling to fish the depths of the ocean for lost souls that they might repent and believe.
IV. A new Family (19-20)
Simon and Andrew leave their nets, but James and John leave their family, specifically their father, Zebedee. Discipleship is one radical change. Although you physically do not leave the land you live in you now have a new king, a new hear, a new calling and a new family. Many aspects of our life change when we follow Jesus. This is because Jesus becomes our priority in all of our spheres in our life. Discipleship is more than a change in one aspect of our lives but in all aspects. You cannot call Jesus Lord; is you give him some of your life. Our whole life is changed heart, mind and time. Our family is not those who share the same DNA as us but those who have the same King, who have the same heart and mind. Later in Mark Jesus’ family are looking for Jesus, he responds by “looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:34-35). Simon and Andrew leave their nets but James and John leave their father.
Discipleship is a complete makeover, not externally, but inside out. Our whole life changes, in a moment. We might not know the extent of what we are getting ourselves into, I know Simon had no idea how he would die, or what the next three years have in store for him. He simple repented and believed in Jesus as King, which meant leaving his occupation to fish for the souls of men. We are called to repent and believe, not merely in an academic sense but believe in our heart. We are called to see ourselves as servants of the king. We are called not to build earthly wealth and build our fishing business but to be fishers of men, proclaiming the same message as Christ. We are also called to a new family, one who does the will of God. This is not an easy task, fishing is smelly, messy, risky and not always profitable. Simon stood on the banks of the sea of Galilee, and he left everything to follow Christ, today we are called to do the same. Will you follow Christ? There is no neutrality to this question.