Over the next week (and possibly into next week) we are going to be looking at Mark 1:16-45. In this passage Mark provides for us four accounts that all center around the Authority of Jesus. This passage is all about the authority of Jesus which is clearly a topic that we often think wrongly about. In studying this passage we will see Jesus’ authority clearly displayed in four different areas: 1) Jesus has the authority to call men, which means we must follow Him; 2) Jesus has authority as a teacher; which means we must obey Him; 3) Jesus has the authority to heal; which means we must trust His power; 4) finally, Jesus has authority over the priorities of man, which means we must trust His plan. Jesus’ authority is so clear in this passage, and yet we still ignore Jesus’ authority in many areas of our life. We must not ignore the authority of Jesus. We must submit to Him. I hope that from this passage we will see Jesus for who He is and respond appropriately.
I. The Authority of Jesus to Call Men (vv. 16-20)
The first thing we see in vv. 16-20 is that Jesus has the authority to call men:
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
Jesus was continuing His preaching ministry in Galilee along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is actually a large fresh water lake that was home to a large fishing industry. As Jesus was passing alongside the sea ministering Mark tells us that he saw Simon and Andrew out casting their nets. This is the first time that these fisherman are mentioned in Mark’s account of the Gospel, but they actually have some history with Jesus through their association with John the Baptist (John 1:39-40). They had probably gone back to fishing after John had been arrested. But now Jesus had arrived, and He came to them. Luke fills us in on a few more of the details in Luke 5:1-4, and reveals that Jesus was ministering to a large number of people and needed their boat.
Jesus offered these two men an opportunity to change the course of their lives forever. He promised to make them “fishers of men” if they would simply follow Him. They could not have known the full implication of this—they were going to become Apostles—but they did recognize Jesus’ authority. They had seen what He was capable of (Luke 5:1-11), and they immediately followed Him. They had no hesitation in leaving their nets behind because they recognized how amazing Jesus was. They did not hold onto the things of this world because they knew that Jesus was better.
This was not the only time that this happened. Mark tells us that Jesus went on a little farther and saw James and John. These two men were also fisherman who would have been familiar with Jesus’ ministry. They were probably Jesus’ cousins (cf. 15:40; Mt 27:55-56, and John 19:25). In a similar fashion Mark tells us that Jesus called these two and they immediately followed Him. They were willing to give up their careers and family (Mark makes it clear that they did not abandon their father. He had the help of the hired servants, and he is never found objecting to his son’s decisions) in order to follow Jesus.
In this passage Jesus is calling men who would become His special disciples and eventually apostles. However, this is illustrative of how we are all called. Left unto ourselves we would never follow Jesus; however He authoritatively steps into our lives and calls us to Himself. As we see in this passage, this is no ordinary call. This is a call to put Jesus first, and let everything else in this world become secondary. We need to recognize this authority of Jesus, and obey His call on our life by following Him.