Commentary by Walter Albritton


January 2, 2005


Delivered and Empowered to Spread the Good News


Mark 1:14-28


Key Verse: Jesus said [to the fishermen], “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” – Mark 1:17


          One helpful way to study a passage of scripture is to ask these five questions:

          1) What happened?

          2) What did it mean to the people involved?

          3) What is God saying to us through this passage?

          4) What response is God asking from us today?

          5) What will happen if we make that response to God?

          Let us approach today’s lesson using that framework, and see where it takes us.

          First, what happened is that Jesus began his ministry. Mark begins there with his gospel, leaving it to others to tell of Jesus’ birth. Jesus begins preaching. He announces that the kingdom of God is near, and calls on the people to repent and believe the good news.

          He calls disciples. They follow him, accepting his authority. People are amazed at Jesus’ teaching but he is opposed by a demon-possessed man. Jesus orders the demon out of the man, and the demon obeys Jesus. News of Jesus’ ministry spreads like wildfire and his fame grows in the region of Galilee.

          Second, the people who first heard Jesus preach were impressed. For centuries they had longed for God to send the Messiah and deliver them from oppression. They were ready for God’s king to come and overthrow their Roman rulers. They would soon be disappointed to learn that the kingdom Jesus spoke about was spiritual, not political. There is no indication that many of his hearers actually repent of their sins; instead, they were content to be impressed by the unusual authority with which Jesus taught.

          A few people did respond to Jesus remarkably. These were his 12 disciples. When Jesus asked certain men to follow him, they dropped what they were doing and went with him. Likely they were already acquainted with Jesus. Even so, it was an extraordinary sight to see them walk away from their labor “at once” and follow Jesus. They were not promised success or money. Jesus promised only to make them “fishers of men.” Evidently the disciples wanted what Jesus was offering. They were ready for a new way of life.

          Jesus’ encounter with a demon surely impressed both the people and the disciples. They quickly understood that demonic forces opposed what Jesus was doing, but that Jesus had the power to defeat evil. The disciples and even casual observers realized that Jesus was engaged in a life and death struggle with Satan. Satan used demons and evil spirits to hold people in bondage; Jesus had come to overpower Satan and set people free.

          Third, God is saying to us that Jesus is the Messiah and that when he began preaching, he was fulfilling the ancient prophecy that a Savior would come and offer salvation for all people. He taught with authority because he was the Son of God, the Word become flesh. He still has power over evil and he can deliver us from bondage and set us free from the demonic spirits that enslave us. He is still calling men and women to follow him, and we are wise to make following him the chief priority of our lives.

          Fourth, the response God is asking of us is repent, believe, and follow Jesus. He invites us to let Jesus take authority over the demons in our lives and drive them out. Only then will we be free of Satan’s demonizing influence and able to serve him with fully devoted hearts. He wants us to continue to spread the fame of Jesus in the world so that all people can have the chance to experience his life-changing power.

          Finally, what will happen if we make this response is that his redemptive work will continue and others will come to know him as the Savior. He will teach us how to fish for men, how to cast nets of love about lonely people who need to be loved into the kingdom of God.

          He will show us how to live not for ourselves but for others. He will teach us to open our hearts and our homes to people with whom we may share our love for Christ. He will use us to reach people we never dreamed might be won to Christ.

          If we will truly “follow” him, we will practice his teachings in our daily lives until people will be able to see Christ in our lives and be drawn to him by our unselfish love for him. We will stop complaining about what other people are doing, and use all our energy offering hope, love, help, and healing to the hurting people around us.

          As we follow him, allowing him to have authority in every aspect of our lives, we will experience his prayer being answered. His kingdom will come, and his will shall be done, in us, and our little lives will be dignified because others will realize that we really are disciples of Jesus. Then we will know joy and fulfillment that no earthly ambitions can ever give us.

          Be sure of this: You will never regret giving up your own interests in order to follow him, for you will never have peace until you are willing to do what he wants you to do. You have to decide whether you or Christ will be in control of your life.

          What will happen if you obey his call and make the response he is asking you to make? You will be delivered from bondage and empowered, as the early disciples were, to spread the good news of his kingdom.

          Is there anything more worth doing with our lives? How you answer that question will determine your own response to his invitation, “Come, follow me.”

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