Mark 1:16-20 • Pastor Tim Tseng
“The time has come…The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” With this bold announcement (verse 15), Jesus now recruits his disciples. When Jesus comes calling, he interrupts and disrupts us, just as he did to Simon, Andrew, James and John.
These four dudes were fishermen. It was a difficult life. They had to get up early every morning in hopes of catching enough to sell and for their families to survive. Yet, Jesus interrupts and invites them to become disciples. And, surprisingly, they follow him – immediately (v 16-18(.
We also discover that Jesus disrupts comfortable relationships, family expectations, and familiar obligations. A little later, James and John leave their father behind in the boat to follow Jesus (v 19-20).
Many Asian Americans find it very difficult to allow anyone to disrupt our family life. There is a feeling of guilt and shame when it feels like we are abandoning our parents or children. It’s also hard to let anyone interrupt our routines, our personal goals, drive for achievement, projects, or things we are engrossed in.
Yet, if we have not been interrupted or disrupted by Jesus, if we have not had to make the difficult decision to follow him, then we may not have actually heard the gospel. Divine interruptions and disruptions is always the beginning of authentic discipleship.
Now, we might hesitate in our response to him. In contrast, the four dudes did not hesitate to leave everything behind to follow Jesus. Why?
First, their lives were going nowhere. In fact, life under the current Jewish and Roman leaders was increasingly bankrupt. It’s difficult for us, who lived in such a rich nation, to see how imprisoned we are to sin in this corrupt world. But the disciples saw it. And despite the evidence of beauty and goodness in God’s creation, the world was and is still fallen.
Second, they saw a better way to live in Jesus. The kingdom of God was coming and Jesus was leading the spiritual conquest of this fallen world.
Third, they were given their real purpose in life. They left their vocation and family behind, but were given a new vocation and family. As fishers of men, disciple-makers, they were not completely erasing their past, but re-purposing it so that they could be what God intended them to be.
In sum, the disciples’ response to Jesus shows us what repentance looks like. Disruption and interruption, leaving the old behind, and following Jesus into his kingdom. Discipleship is the most difficult decision anyone can make. But it is also the most important and rewarding. Not just for us, but for the sake of God’s world.
Jesus is calls us to become disciples now. The invitation is all of us – young and old, even those of us who have grown up in the church or have professed to be Christians. Are you ready to set sail with him to become fishers of people?