Digging in Deeper: Mark 1:16-18

“As he passed alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother, casting a net into the sea–for they were fisherman. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus told them, ‘and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Would you follow Jesus if He came calling? If you’re already a Jesus follower, I suspect your answer to that question was a quick and enthusiastic, “Yes!” If He came calling out of nowhere and you were already in the groove of your life, though, would you really drop everything and follow Him? If you’re not already doing it, the answer just may not be quite so affirming. Now as a follower of Jesus, if He came and asked you to leave everything familiar and go some place new, would you do it? These men did and it changed the world. Let’s look at why they did it.

The story of Jesus calling Peter and Andrew to follow Him has always been an intriguing one to me. Many a book has been written and sermon has been preached analyzing their willingness to simply drop everything and follow Jesus. Many a call to willingly follow suit has been made. Yet what was it about Jesus and what was it about these men that led them to do that?

Mark here and Matthew as well present it as if Jesus simply walked by, called them, and they went. That seems pretty incredible; pretty hard to believe. Luke adds the detail that the call came after Jesus had preached from Peter and Andrew’s boat and done the miracle with the catch of fish. And that seems to explain it perfectly. I mean, who wouldn’t drop everything to follow Jesus after that.

That’s only three Gospels, though, and there’s still a fourth. The whole picture matters. We talked last week about the fact that John reveals Jesus stayed in the neighborhood after His baptism ministering almost as a disciple of John’s. He was a rabbi working within John’s circle of influence, attracting His own followers. Some of those followers, the apostle John tells us, came from John the Baptist’s own pool. Specifically, Andrew and Peter were two of these. Andrew was first and then he went and got Peter to come with him.

As John’s narrative continues, these men were with Jesus when He turned water into wine at a wedding in Cana. They saw Him clear out the moneychangers in the temple in Jerusalem. All of this was before His return to Galilee to kick off His ministry that we saw Mark talking about last week.

What I’m getting at by all this narrative weaving is that there’s more to the story than simply what we see in Mark, Matthew, and Luke. So then, does this mean that Mark and the others left something out which John felt the need to include all those years later? Why would they do this? Were they trying to tell a different story and John gave the “real” one? Why the apparent conflicts of harmonization?

Well, as I hope I’ve helped you to see, there is not necessarily a conflict or contradiction here at all. Each different author presented Jesus’ story as the Spirit directed and for a particular audience and purpose. They didn’t feel the need to include every single detail because that’s not how ancient biography writing worked. They were all well within the expected boundaries of accuracy for their day and time. We can’t justifiably hold them to a different standard or assume negative intentions on their part where they fail to adhere to a more modern historical method in writing. In short: Don’t let apparent difficulties like this one scare you away from holding fast to the inerrancy of the Scriptures.

That was more of a rabbit trail. Let’s get back on the main question for the morning: Why would Peter and Andrew simply drop everything and follow Jesus? Well, if the additions John and Luke make to the narrative are indeed accurate, they already had a context with Jesus. The real question seems to be why they had gone back home. Perhaps they followed after Him for a while, but as part of a larger crowd of curious watchers. It wasn’t until Jesus found them in Galilee here that He made the formal call to follow Him. When He did, they were ready.

Now, this doesn’t make it any less remarkable that they were willing to do it. There was a cultural context for this kind of rabbi-disciple relationship then, and they had already seen Jesus do and say some pretty remarkable things. But leaving behind a family business–and in at least Peter’s case, a family–was a big deal then. It was a much bigger deal than it is today. In other words, this was still amazing faith on their part.

But it was faith with a context. Faith always has a context. Your faith has a context. Now, yes, sometimes God comes in and helps things along in miraculous ways like in the case of Saul, but for the vast majority of folks, faith has a context. It came out of somewhere. God’s Spirit was quietly working in the background to prepare you for the decision to follow Jesus. He was building a foundation for the structure of your faith to stand on firmly. He’s always working, often in ways we don’t notice until later. He’s always working to prepare us for what lies ahead.

The question to ask, then, is this one: How has the Holy Spirit been working in the background context of your life to prepare you for what lies ahead? Have you noticed Him? Think back right now; reflect on the course of your life recently and see if you can spot the places where He has been gently directing you one way or another. He’s got plans for you that will blow your mind. You’ve simply got to trust Him enough to follow Him into experiencing them.

Let me encourage you to do it, to do just what Peter and Andrew did. The journey won’t always be easy, but it will always lead to life, and that’s a very good place to be.

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