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Mark 1 14-20 b

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Today’s Message

Date:               January 29, 2006

Speaker:          Pastor Steven Thomas

Title:                Following and Fishing

Text:                Mark 1:14-20

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”

16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.

19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

Introduction:  Have you ever thought about the diverse group of people that comes into the worship service of the church?  There are, of course, committed Christians whose love for Christ and dedication to his service is obvious.  There are also those who are not Christians—make no bones about it.  They might be here for a variety of reasons.  Some come to be supportive of others.  Some come because they have to.  Some come out of curiosity.  Then there is a group that comes that is of particular concern to me.  They are chameleon-like.  They look and act like Christians, but their hearts have never been transformed.  Who are they, you ask?  How would I know?  I just said they look and act like Christians!

Kent Hughes suggests that they fit in because of the right vocabulary.  They know the lingo.  Man they know the passwords such as fellowship, brother, and born again.  They even know what traveling mercies are.  Then there are the right social conventions that make them pass for Christians.  They have the right list of do’s and don’ts to make them fit in.  But their credentials are impeccable if they have the right spiritual heritage.  If their parents are good Christians, or better, committed workers, it is assumed they are believers.  If you are here today as a chameleon, I want you to hear Jesus’ message.  He summons all to a repentant faith that changes your life. 

The baptism and temptation of Jesus (1:9-13) marked the inauguration of his public ministry.  From these events, Mark drives right to Jesus’ preaching.  He gives us a brief synopsis of Jesus’ message, recounts the call of the first disciples, and tells us of their response.

I.          Jesus preached a message of good news from God.  14-15

A.        His message presented an opportunity.

“The time has come.”  The implication of this phrase is that a long awaited occasion had arrived.  It was anticipated and longed for.  It was the focal point of the religious heritage of Israel.  It is here at last.

There are two words for time in the Greek language.  One simply refers to the passing of minutes and seconds—it is the word from which we get “chronology.”  The other word is the one we have here.  It has the idea of “opportunity, a favorable time, and significant time.”  This is the divinely appointed time.  All of the prophecies of old were being fulfilled in Jesus.

It is clear that this is what Jesus meant when we compare other passages.  In Luke’s account, we find that early in this ministry in Galilee, Jesus put in an appearance in his hometown.

Luke 4:16-21

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to release the oppressed,

19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

The time has come.  The opportunity is here.  Don’t miss it. 

B.        His message announced the presence of the King.

“The kingdom of God is near.”  In the OT, God prophesied that there would come a day when the nation of Israel would turn to God in repentant faith, that the Messiah, or Christ would become her king, and that he would establish a reign of righteousness and peace throughout the world.  This day was the longing of every believer throughout the centuries. 

Fully a third of OT focuses on the truth of that coming kingdom.  Even in the time since the earthly ministry of Christ, Christians long for that day, a day of God’s rule on earth; a day when society will not be saturated with perversity and courts will administer true justice, and every man will deal fairly with his neighbor.  Jesus himself taught us to pray:  “Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be you name.  Your kingdom come, your will be done. . .  Do you not long for such a time?

What does it mean that the kingdom is near?  Jesus came to Israel to present himself to her as her King. 

Ill.  Palm Sunday

Zechariah 9:9

9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!

Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!

See, your king comes to you,

righteous and having salvation,

gentle and riding on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

He could preach that they were on the threshold of the kingdom because the king was in their midst.  The king is here!  For our purposes, we could say that the message that Jesus preached focused on him.  It was Christ-centered.  Christ is not physically near you, but our message still centers on him.  He is the solution to your deepest needs.  He calls you today.

I wonder how many people miss the opportunity presented by the hearing of the good news.  You hear it and leave unchanged.  But Christ is near you.  O, don’t delay.  Come to him today.  How?

C.        His message required repentant faith.

The wonder of God’s gracious message is that he offers you forgiveness and a changed life through faith.  He does not give you a list of things you must do to ear the right.  He does not require that you try to become worthy before he accept you.  He simply requires that you exercise faith, that you believe his message.  But notice how this is worded:  repent and believe.  The two are inseparable in this way:  repentance represents that from which you turn and faith represents that to which you turn.  When you trust him, you will stop trusting yourself.  When you follow him, you will stop following the world.  Therefore, we call this repentant faith.

Paul put it this way:

Acts 20:20-21

20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

I make this point because there are those who take a light, cheap, flippant approach to Christianity.  They think that faith simply means acknowledging the historical facts of the good news.  Consequently, they mistake superficial knowledge for true faith.  They never really come to Christ, but are comfortable in their sin.  No, the faith that brings us to Christ is a faith that changes our lives.

This is illustrated in the next section of Mark’s account of the life of Christ.

II.        Jesus called those who believed his message to participate in his mission.  16-17

Tell the story; cf. Luke and John

Mark’s compression of the details serves to underscore the sense of urgency and the need to be decisive. 

A.        He called them to follow.

Mark often mentions “following” Jesus.  He uses several different words that are hard to replicate in English with a single term.  He communicates the idea:  responding to a summons, attachment to a person, acceptance of authority, imitation of an example. 

No wonder the book of Acts informs us that in the early days, Christianity was called, “The Way.”

Anyone whom God calls to himself is called to follow Christ. 

B.        He called them to serve.

He had a specific purpose in mind for these men.  Now in the establishment of Christianity, they played a unique part.  These four became part of the Twelve apostles whom Jesus used to found his church.  There are no longer apostles today.  But Mark is recording the call in general terms, terms that still apply today.  He used their vocation as an illustration of the new goal in life that he gives to his followers:  fishers of men.  In other words, when we become his followers, he intends for us to propagate his message.  We who have had our lives transformed by the grace of God are commissioned to tell others about our wonderful Savior. 

III.       Jesus’ followers responded decisively.  18-20

Jesus issued the call and these four men responded.  I want you consider how they responded.

A.        They responded immediately.

v. 18:  At once

v. 20:  Without delay

Mark is making a point.  They heard the message and responded immediately.  Jesus did not say, “think about this and let me know.”  No!  The king said, “Come.”  And they came. 

B.        They responded completely.

They left nets.  They left family.  They left businesses.  They withheld nothing.  Now I am not going to try to hide from you certain harsh realities.  If you come to Christ, it will cost you. 

There is a hint:  v. 14, arrest of John

It will cost some of you friends and family.  I know two men whose wives left them because they became Christians.  Friends with whom you used to explore the world’s sinful pleasures will be uncomfortable around you—and the problem is with their guilt conscience.  You very presence will make them uncomfortable and they will withdraw. 

It will cost some of you money or career opportunities.  You will have a new and highly unusual approach to work called honesty—and it doesn’t always pay, at least not always in cash. 

What are you willing to do for Jesus? 

Today’s take-home truth:  Jesus brought good news—a life changing message.  What will you do with it?

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