The Context of this command: Mark 1:16-20
In Mark, Jesus is beginning his ministry. He is calling his “disciples.” in this context, being a disciple meant being a “follower,” “adherent” or “student” of a great master. They obviously learn a great deal from listening to his teaching, but they also learn a great deal by simply observing: with attentive eyes they observe all that the teacher does and then proceed to imitate him. Students would then flock around the great Rabbis of Judaism. And such a group formation – teachers and students – become something of an extended family. The teacher is the spiritual father, the students his spiritual children. They spend their time with him, they follow him, and they serve him. But they also learn a great deal by simply observing: with attentive eyes they observe all that the teacher does and then proceed to imitate him.
Here Jesus calls Simon (Peter), Andrew, James and John. They were fishermen practicing their trade. James and John actually left their father and his hired men in the boat in order to follow Jesus. It seems these men left their families and trades for an itinerant ministry based on faith support.
Others were given this opportunity. Read Luke 9.57-62 (especially v. 58). This was not an easy decision.
Question: Why did these men leave it all to follow Jesus?
It seems they were already spiritually minded. They may have been influenced by the teaching of John the Baptist. In John 1.35-42, we already see evidence of two unnamed disciples of John leave and follow Jesus as John pointed toward Jesus. We see Andrew (and Simon) listening to John as well. John the Baptist was a powerful preacher/prophet who pointed to someone greater. They were listening and eager to find the Messiah.
What did they leave? In the passage (Mark 10.17-31) where Jesus is confronted by a rich man about the requirements of inheriting eternal life, Jesus tells the rich man to sell everything, give to the poor and then follow Jesus. The rich man goes away sad, knowing the cost of discipleship is high. Peter (verse 28) reminds Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you!” Jesus then acknowledges that the rewards of following him may come at great costs (verse 29, leaving home or brothers or sisters of mother or father…for me and the gospel).
Why did they stay? In John 6.43-58 Jesus confronts his followers with some challenging words. He speaks metaphorically about eating his flesh and drinking his blood.
The response? Verse 60 – This is a hard teaching, who can accept it?
Verse 66 – many of his followers turned back and no longer followed him.
Verse 67 – Jesus turns to his core, “Do you want to leave?”
Here is why they stayed, verse 68 – You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe you are the Holy One of God.
When Jesus says, “Come, follow me”, who is he talking to, just the Twelve?
Mark 8.34-5 – Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. *Whoever* Is it worth it?
Read verses 36-38 – gaining the world versus losing your soul.
We need to investigate more closely what being a disciple looks like. That is one of the reasons why we are looking at the commands of Jesus. What do they teach us about Jesus? Do they reveal how we relate to Jesus? Do they always apply to us?
Remember David Platt’s challenge from last week – Do I believe Jesus? And am I going to obey Jesus?
Have you ever thought that these calls applied to you?
Are you ready to apply these commands if/when they come if they do?
What are you prepared to sacrifice for the Kingdom of God?
Let’s look at these questions together and see how we can help each other follow Jesus and keep his commands.
John 14:15 – If you love me, keep my commands.