– Geoff Milton
JESUS’ CALL TO FOLLOW HIM. (READ Mark 1-2)
Reading Mark 1 -2 about Jesus calling people to follow him reminded me of how he called me as a young man. I was very involved in lay ministry at my local church, felt God’s call to some sort of training, started one Bible subject part-time at Ridley College and suddenly I was hooked! His call was authoritative. I felt I must do this full time. God in his grace provided me with a part-time job and I put myself through college.
In Mark 1:16, Jesus is walking beside Lake Galilee and calls 4 fishermen to leave their fishing and follow him. They responded at once (v18), such was his authority. In v15 he had proclaimed to the crowds “The Kingdom of God has come near (in Jesus the King), repent and believe the good news” (about Jesus).
Jesus the King, bringer of God’s kingdom, called then and calls us now to repent (do a u-turn back to him) and believe or trust in him and to follow him – as we see with the four fishermen. Our challenge is the same – to put Jesus, the King and Saviour, as Number 1 in our lives, not just as a hobby or an interest, but the focus of our lives.
“Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all” as the hymn puts it.
Jesus’ authority in his teaching and authority over evil
Jesus’ authority in his teaching was amazing (v27), unlike the limp, unconvincing teaching of the teachers of the law (v22). Jesus demonstrated the authority and truth of his teaching by defeating evil when he met a man with an evil spirit (v23). He ordered the spirit to leave the man and it came out with a shriek. Jesus’ teaching authority was established with power. Jesus has the same authority today to set people free from evil, be it spirits, addictions or spiritual blindness. He replaces evil with the Holy Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness etc (Gal. 5).
Perhaps in the stress of the pandemic, you feel Jesus’ call to re-examine your life priorities and follow him more closely. Obey the call ! -perhaps in more frequent and heartfelt prayer (see Jesus’ example in v35). I have been personally encouraged by the prayer of many at St. Ed’s, including prayer for me. Thank you! Perhaps Jesus is calling you to more prayer and care for fellow St. Edward’s members or for those who have drifted away. Jesus said in v17 “Come follow me and I will send you out to fish for people”, a fishing metaphor for fisherman talking about drawing people into God’s family, God’s Kingdom, for their blessing by God. This has been happening at St Ed’s in this difficult time!
Jesus’ authority over sickness
In v30 Simon’s mother in law was sick with a fever. Jesus took her by the hand, helped her up and immediately she was strong enough to prepare a meal for them. Jesus the King has authority over sickness. There will be no sickness or pain (or death or sin) in the heavenly Kingdom!
Jesus’ authority to forgive sins
Later, in Mark 2:1-5, Jesus not only heals the paralysed man, he also meets his deepest needs – he forgives his sins (v5). The healing is an outward sign of the man’s inner forgiveness. Jesus firmly
announces his authority to forgive sins (2:10) “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”. Then to remind us of the expected response, Mark describes how Levi the probably wealthy tax collector, left everything and followed Jesus, just like the four fishermen (2:14). These are examples for us to follow.
Jesus is calling us to follow him wholeheartedly. Jesus is God’s rescuing King with all God’s authority who came to bring the Kingdom of God to the world. He calls us to follow him fully, starting now. As I have mentioned that may include prayer, or simple care such as a phone call, or generous giving, as many at St. Ed’s are doing or using your admin. skills or practical skills to serve Jesus by serving others or reaching out to people searching for God. Jesus is God’s King, his Kingdom is good. Why wouldn’t we follow him wholeheartedly?