Summary: Following Jesus transforms lives. If that is not happening, then people are not following Jesus.
In the day when most traveled by train, there was a physically disabled boy who ran a small newsstand in a railroad station. Each day he sold candy, gum, and newspapers to people who passed through the station. One day two men rushed through the crowded station to catch a train that was to leave in minutes. One man was 10 to 15 yards in front of the other. The first man turned a corner, ran into the boy, and knocked him from his seat. Candy, gum, newspapers, and change scattered everywhere. The man spoke harshly to the boy, and then went on his way.
Seconds later the other man arrived at the scene. He gently helped the boy up, made sure he was all right, and then collected the scattered belongings. He took out his billfold and gave the boy some money to cover any lost change or the expense of any item broken in the spill. Then he picked up his suitcase and hurried to catch the train that was about to depart. As he hurried down the track, the boy cupped his hands to his mouth and called, “Hey, mister! Are you Jesus?” The man replied, “No, I am simply one of His followers who is trying to do what He would do if He were here.”
Following Jesus transforms lives. If that is not happening, then people are not following Jesus.
It is believed by many that Mark’s gospel is written to Gentiles in Rome. One reason for this line of thinking is because he explains many Jewish customs. The church is being persecuted, and Christians are suffering for being followers of Jesus. Mark wants to help these suffering believers. He starts by telling them something stupendous has happened: God has come to earth as a man in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. The promised Messiah has arrived to save His people! The first eight chapters is one breathtaking demonstration of power after another.
In light of this glorious good news and this remarkable Person, Mark answers two basic questions: Who is this Person, and what should be our response to this news? The answers: This is the Messiah; follow Him.
What does it mean to follow Jesus?
I. TO FOLLOW JESUS MEANS TO ACKNOWLEDGE HIS AUTHORITY (MARK 1:16-20)
(16) As He was passing along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, Simon's brother. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen. (17) "Follow Me," Jesus told them, "and I will make you fish for people!" (18) Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. (19) Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in their boat mending their nets. (20) Immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed Him.
Immediately after Jesus’ public declaration of His ministry through baptism, He is driven into the wilderness to endure fasting and temptations by the devil for forty days. That is to say it will not necessarily be an easy life to follow Jesus. The persecuted believers in Rome should not be surprised by the hardship they have to endure because of following Jesus.
To follow Jesus means to acknowledge Jesus’ authority. Mark describes what it means to follow Jesus by including the calling of the first disciples of Jesus. This encounter appears “out of the blue.” The abbreviated way Mark tells the story sharpens the lesson of the authority Jesus has over his disciples when He calls them to follow. Luke’s gospel says that Jesus has been preaching and healing in this area for some time. People have heard about him. Peter and Andrew, James and John were acquainted with Jesus. Picture the scene in your mind. Jesus is on the shore. Peter and Andrew are busy working at catching fish. Jesus interrupts them in their work and simply says, “Follow Me and I will make you fish for people!”
“Follow Me” appears so simple. Yet those simple words have deep and broad implications for a person’s life. First, look at the broadness of those words. What about my business? “First, follow Me.” What about my family? “First, follow Me.” What about my future? “First, follow Me.” Every area of their life came second to following Jesus. In truth, there really was no second. Those words meant He was not even to have a competitor.
Next, the call is personal. The “you” in the next phrase is a singular. In other words, “Peter, you follow Me and I will make you fish for men. Andrew, you follow Me and I will make you fish for men.” It would be a mistake to think that the message this morning is a good one for new believers or those who have yet to become a Christian. This morning’s sermon is all about you. Are you following Jesus?