Mark 1:14-20


God never created man to “do his own thing.”  God has always had a purpose for His people.  We are created so that we only find our ultimate fulfillment in doing that for which we were created.


God has called you to a purpose.  It is a purpose which is much bigger than yourself.  It is this purpose which gives you significance.





            Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15  and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15).


There is a considerable period of time which passed between the temptation of Jesus as recorded in verses 12-13 and the events now described.  Mark shows that he is aware of this by giving the simple chronological marker that this was taking place “after John had been taken into custody.”


1.         The Arrest of John the Baptist.


The details of John’s arrest will be given in Mark 6:17-29.  That arrest is only mentioned in passing now, for the author wishes us to focus upon Jesus.


John has been the forerunner of the Messiah.  He was the one who came announcing the coming of another.  He came pointing to another who would come after him.  He was the forerunner.  But once that forerunner has been removed, then Messiah Himself comes to the forefront.


There is an interesting parallel to the life and ministry of Jesus.  There is a movement from baptism to temptation to arrest as we approach the ministry of Jesus.  At the close of His ministry we shall see these same factors in reverse order.




Death Burial & Resurrection














John the Baptist Arrested


Jesus Arrested






Ministry of Jesus


2.         Galilee.


This next section of Mark will take place in the area of Galilee.  The name “Galilee” (literally, HaGalilee) means “the circle.”  The name probably reflects the circular shape of the lake.


Galilee was under the oversight of the Tetrarch Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great.  Antipas served under the authority of Rome.


There was a saying among the Jews that went, “If you want to be spiritual, go to Jerusalem; if you want to be rich, go to Galilee.”  This is because Galilee enjoyed a booming economy.  Fishermen plied its lake.  Farms lay scattered across its rolling hills and upon the fields of Jezreel.  It was to this area that Jesus came to begin his ministry.


Why did Jesus begin His public ministry in Galilee?  Perhaps it was because Galilee tended to be more receptive to new ideas.  It was something of a proverb that Galilee was the birthplace of all sorts of seditions and revolutionary ideas.


3.         The Kingdom of God.


The message of Jesus was that “the kingdom of God is at hand.”  The kingdom of God was a familiar theme to the Jews of that day.  When God had called Israel out of Egypt, He has promised to make of them a “kingdom of priests, a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6).


One of the things that Messiah would do would be to establish the kingdom of David and uphold it with justice and righteousness (Isaiah 9:6-7).  The kingdom presupposed three aspects:


a.         A ruler with authority to rule.

b.         Subjects of which the ruler could rule.

c.         The actual exercise of rulership.


The Jews has seen kingdoms come and they had seen kingdoms go.  If there was one thing they had learned, it is that human kingdoms are temporary.  But they were looking for an eternal kingdom.


            “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.” (Daniel 2:44).


Now Jesus comes on the scene with a startling pronouncement.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  It is right around the corner.  It has finally come.  The use of the perfect tense indicates that the kingdom has come close with the result that it is here!


4.         Repent and Believe.


The message that the kingdom of God is at hand demands a response on the part of those who hear this news.  The response is two-fold.


Genuine saving faith includes repentance.  Repentance without faith leads to despair.  Faith without repentance from sin becomes presumption.





            As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen.

            And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”  18  Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. (Mark 1:16-18).


The passage is given with a rising and a falling action. The central part of the narration is the call of Jesus to follow.


As He was going along by the Sea




He saw the brothers casting a net




They were fishermen.



“Follow Me”



“I will make you become fishers of men”



They left their nets



And followed Him




Jesus began His public ministry by calling men who would be both His followers and His co-workers.  There is a principle here.  It is that men were His method. And this should be our method, too.


The earthly ministry of Jesus would only last a few years.  How would Jesus spend those few precious years?  A great deal of it was spend in reproducing His own character in a few other men.


The first four followers mentioned by Mark are fishermen.  The scene of their call is fitting - by the Sea of Galilee.  Luke’s account always calls this a lake - it is only the landlubbing Jews who referred to this as a “sea.”


1.         Simon.


No doubt, he was named after Simeon, one of the patriarchs of Israel.  He would later be given the nickname “Peter” (Mark 3:16).


2.         Andrew.


“Andrew” was a Greek name, meaning “man.”  Notice how Andrew is designated.  He is called “Andrew, the brother of Simon.”  That is because Peter was the natural leader of the two.


3.         They were fishermen.


This was not a traditional occupation for Jews.  The Jews were by and large a race of landlubbers.  The only Jew in the Old Testament who is ever described as taking an ocean voyage is Jonah - and he was thrown overboard.


However, the fishing industry had begun to flourish in first century Galilee.  While Jews normally avoided sailing in the ocean, the large lake known as the Sea of Galilee was about their size.

4.         The Manner of the Call.


a.         This was a personal call.


Jesus could have called men from heaven.  He could have spoken in a great booming voice from the sky.  Or He could have written the message in the clouds.  He could have issued a proclamation from Jerusalem.  And He could have sent out a mass mailing.  But He didn’t.


Instead, He went to where men were.  He sought them out.  He entered their world and walked their dirty streets.


b.         This was a specific call.


There were a lot of fishermen on the Sea of Galilee that day.  But Jesus only went to a select group of His own choosing.


c.         It was a call to follow.


Jesus did not call these men to adopt a well-defined creed or to subscribe to a statement of faith.  He simply called them to follow.


This presupposes that Jesus would lead.  Jesus never asked us to go where He had not first gone Himself.  He is the general who leads from the point.  Jesus makes the same call today.  It is a simple call - just follow.


5.         Fishers of Men.


Jesus does not tell them to become fishers of men.  He says that, if they follow Him, HE will cause them to become fishers of men.


Instead of catching fish, they will catch men.  Instead of imparting death, they will impart life.  Their tools have been the net and the boat.  Now they shall be the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.


6.         Their response.


The first thing that I want you to notice is that there WAS a response.  There is always a response.  Jesus always forces people to respond.  If you don’t respond, then you have already responded.


a.         It was immediate.


They didn’t spend any time thinking it over.  There was no debate. They were called and they simply obeyed.


b.         They made it a priority.


They considered this call so important, that they were willing to leave everything behind to answer it.  In leaving their nets, they were leaving the very means of their livelihood.  They made the spreading of the Gospel a priority in their lives, not something that ranked second, third or fourth.


Why is the Church so weak and ineffective in the world today?  Because the Gospel is not a PRIORITY in the lives of its members.   You haven’t really answered the call of God until you are ready to commit everything to Him, to forsake everything for Him, and to make His business the priority of your life.  What is standing in your way to total commitment to God?





            Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets.

            Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him. (Mark 1:19-20).


Luke 5:7 indicates that Peter and Andrew were partners with James and John in the fishing business.

The next two disciples whom Jesus calls are also a pair of brothers.  I like this because it reminds me of how the Lord called both my older brother and myself into ministry.


1.         James and John.


These are both Hebrew names.  The Greek text reads “Jacob” and “John” ( Iakobon and Iuennen).  They were both sons of Zebedee.  They will also receive a nickname - “Sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17).


2.         They left... and went away to follow Him.


There was a cost to following Jesus.  They could not say, “I’ll catch men, but I don’t want it to upset my comfort zone.”  They left their boats, their nets, their fish and their families to follow Jesus.  This is the cost of discipleship.  It is the cost of one who fishes for men.


3.         They left their father Zebedee... with the hired servants.


They were not deserting their father in such a way as to leave him helpless.  The fishing business was apparently doing well.  It was doing so well that they were able to hire extra help.


Now I want you to notice something.  These men were totally unqualified for the job to which they were called.  They were fishermen by trade.  And although there are some similarities between fishing for fish and fishing for men, the two professions are really very different.  These men knew all about catching fish.  They knew nothing about catching men.  And they were totally unqualified for the job at hand.


This tells me something about the kind of man God delights in using.  He uses UNQUALIFIED men.  And that means He can use me.  And it means He can use you.


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