Summary: When Jesus calls us it is not a request, but a command. His universal authority over us is not optional, but the blessing of being in the kingdom is.
Open by reading chapter one. (Or, if you are willing, memorize it and present it as if you are Mark telling about Jesus to the church. This is very effective. If you are not confident in your memory, use notes, but let me encourage you to tell the church what you are attempting and try it).
Jesus came calling us to come, follow him, and he empowers us to become like him. Jesus came here and became a man. 2 Cor. 5:21 tells us that he who knew no sin, became sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God. He came to die for us on the cross. He came to bring us back to God. Jesus came. He came! By the way, Jesus is coming again. He’s coming back for all of us who have heard his call and answered it by coming to him to become like him. Jesus is coming back to judge the living and the dead in righteous judgment. He’s coming to bring evil to an end. He’s coming to bring all the sanctified sinners saved by his grace and changed by his blood to eternal glory.
Today as we enter the gospel of Mark he presents to us a slide show of events in Jesus life splashed on the screen of each Spirit inspired page. Mark is in a hurry to echo the call of Jesus Christ and show him to us. Scene after scene of Jesus life is displayed in short order. Twelve times in this one chapter he repeats the word “immediately.” What impresses us in Mark is not his linguistic ability, but his urgency to place Jesus before us.
Jesus is on the move in Mark preaching, teaching and calling disciples to come follow him and become new through him. Let’s look at Jesus calling and explore what it implies and how it applies to us. Our text is Mark 1:14-20.
We will look at Jesus calling from these five angles:
1. The information
Look at verse 15. The information of the message of Jesus preaching was very brief. Perhaps I should pay more attention to this. Mark sums it up in a sentence. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel!” Can you hear the urgency of this call?
It’s time, it’s here, turn and trust God’s good news NOW!
We have no promise of tomorrow. There are times when you don’t have the luxury of mulling it over. I asked Sheila if I could share this next illustration. I think of the look on the doctor’s face Tuesday night in the emergency room when the x-rays of James Shoemate’s lungs came back. James could barely breathe. I was there as the Doctor walked in the room and asked, “Where is the family? I need to talk with them.” The information on that x-ray and James’ physical condition after all his cancer treatments revealed that his time was very short. I was able to ask him directly, “James, are you ready to meet the Lord?” He answered, “Well, I’m scared, but I’m ready.” And by God’s grace I know that he was. Back in July when he realized his situation with cancer was critical James told me, “I’m thankful that God has given me time to make a change. I know a lot of people who didn’t get this opportunity.” God gave James the call of the gospel and he answered. This is the same call God has given you and me. It doesn’t matter if we live 20 years or 200 years. If we fail to answer the call of Jesus, we lose. And if we answer that call, by the grace of God, we gain it all! God’s inheritance is forever, for us, for you, for me, now, today.
The call of Jesus comes with urgency. Jesus gives us this information, “The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand…” Some things can wait, some can’t.
2. The interruption
Look at when Jesus called his first disciples. What were they doing? Were they sitting there pondering God’s will for themselves? Perhaps, but Mark tells us that they were also busy with ordinary business of life. Jesus entered their world and interrupted their schedule and activities. He didn’t just interrupt them at dinner or as they were entertaining themselves watching a football game. Jesus interrupted them at what most men feel is the most important identifying character of their lives. Jesus interrupted them at work. Men build an identity based on this. (We men don’t just do our jobs, we take on the identity of what we do… Doctor, Lawyer, Teacher, Preacher, Policeman, Mail-man, Fisherman, etc.) When men meet, we don’t generally notice what the other is wearing (unless, like John, it is a uniform that stands for what we do) or pay attention to each other’s hair style. Ask a man how his wife and kids are doing and you’ll usually get a one word answer. “Fine.” If you ask a woman about her husband and kids you should prepare yourself for a lengthy conversation. Men are generally not like that… (until we are retired or become grandparents). Do you want to get a man to talk? Here’s the question: Where do you work? What do you do for a living? Men build their identities around their job. So Jesus interruption here in Mark’s gospel comes at a crucial time. He interrupted them at work!