Come, follow me
Gospel : Mark 1:14-20
- Mark’s Gospel reveals Jesus to be the fulfillment of the promised Messiah.
- Jesus is the Good News.
- In today’s passage, the first disciples respond immediately to Jesus call to have faith in the good news.
SOURCE: Our Sunday Visitor
CATHOLIC Bible Study
Jesus Calls the Galilean Fishermen to Discipleship
by Michal Hunt (Agape Bible Study)
In the Gospel Reading, the Galilean fishermen hear Jesus’ call to discipleship and give up everything to follow the Messiah. They decided to follow Him without knowing where He would lead them. Their response to the call of Jesus Christ is an example of how we should all trust God and follow our special calling because the reward merited for us by Jesus is eternal!
IMMEDIATELY, NOW, AT ONCE
The Greek word euthus, usually translated “immediately,” “now,” or “at once,” is a key term in Mark’s Gospel, stressing the necessity of an immediate response to Jesus. Mark uses the adverb 47 times in his 675 verses.
The tetrarch Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great and ruler of Galilee in the north and Perea on the southeast side of the Jordan River where St. John baptized repentant sinners in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. Antipas had an affair with his niece (Herod the Great’s granddaughter), who was also his brother’s wife. He convinced her to divorce her husband and marry him, even though the Law of Moses forbade such a union. As an ordained priest of the Sinai Covenant, John the Baptist condemned Herod Antipas and his wife Herodias for the sin of adultery. In retaliation for John’s public denouncement, Herod Antipas arrested John and imprisoned him in the Herodian fortress in Perea called Macherus (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18.5.2; also see Mt 4:12-17; 14:3-12).
John’s arrest was the signal that his ministry had come to an end, and Jesus’s ministry must begin. According to St. Luke’s Gospel, Jesus was thirty years old at the beginning of His public ministry (Lk 3:23), the same age that His ancestor David became King of Israel (2 Sam 5:4). The Galilee was the perfect location for Jesus to make the headquarters of His ministry. The region was a crossroads for the great Via Maris, the ancient trade route that came out of Egypt, extended along the Mediterranean coast, passed through the Galilee, and continued into Syria, Asia Minor, and Mesopotamia. Jesus didn’t have to go to the various neighboring Gentile nations where Jews lived because they came to Him in the three yearly pilgrimages to the Jerusalem Temple as commanded in the Law of Moses (Ex 23:14-17; 34:18-24; Dt 16:16; 2 Chr 8:3).
THE CALL OF SIMON AND ANDREW
In verses 16-20, Jesus called His first group of Galilean disciples. The brothers Simon and Andrew, and the sons of Zebedee were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee who owned their boats. They were not poor but were probably well-to-do since they had hired men who worked for them (verse 20), and after spending almost three years following Jesus, they still had a fishing business (see Jn 21:3). Fishermen who owned their boats on the Sea of Galilee were usually under contract to supply fish to the Roman government, and any fish they caught beyond their contracted amount could be sold for a profit.
This encounter with Jesus was not the first time Simon, Andrew, and the Zebedee brothers had seen Him or been exposed to His message (see Jn 1:35-42 in last Sunday’s Gospel reading). They had all met him at the site of St. John’s ritual baptisms of repentance and purification on the east side of the Jordan River. At that time, the Baptist identified Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” and the “Son of God” who will baptize men with “water and the Holy Spirit” (Jn 1:29, 33-34; Mk 1:8).
Andrew and another disciple (probably John Zebedee) spent an entire day talking with Jesus (Jn 1:35-39). Later, Andrew brought his brother Simon to meet “the Messiah,” and Jesus gave Simon the name/title Kepha in Aramaic, transliterated into the Greek text as Cephas (Jn 1:41-42). It is a name that means “Rock” and translates into English as Peter from the Greek “Petros” (masculine form of the Greek word for rock that is petra). It is a title/name for Simon that Jesus will repeat when Simon is the first of the Apostles to professes Jesus’ divinity as the Messiah and the Son of God (Mt 16:16-18). The fishermen’s previous introduction to Jesus explains their decision to immediately leave their fishing boats to follow Him in verse 20.
APPLICATION FOR US TODAY
The message of this passage for the reader is that knowing Jesus’ true identity is not enough; one must be ready to give up everything to follow Him. Notice that St. Mark uses the Greek word euthus twice in this passage. Mark uses this term more in his Gospel than in the rest of the verses of the New Testament combined, and his use of this particular word is deliberate. It points to the urgency of God’s actions in and through Jesus and the importance of our response to Jesus’ call to discipleship and service before it is too late.
The Galilean fishermen did not hesitate; they left everything and immediately followed Jesus. Their decision to follow Jesus became their first steps on a journey to life in the Kingdom of Heaven. Their response to the call of Jesus Christ is an example of how we should trust God and follow our special calling because the reward merited for us by Jesus is eternal!
Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
“My days are like the wind”
Points to consider
- What a contrast with the forecasts of doom and destruction we heard in the other two readings! Jesus is proclaiming the gospel of God but not in a hellfire way: This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Jesus is the most constructive preacher I have ever heard.
- At the same time, Jesus remains the most radical, most uncompromising preacher I have ever heard. Repent, and believe in the gospel. How can I find the tone to convey such biting and climactic words?
- Jesus passed by the Sea of Galilee. I recall certain crossroads moments in my life—this retreat, that visiting speaker, this news report—never to be repeated. Just as in my life, most likely his reputation preceded him and they all knew him from before. But now the time has arrived to take a stand. Come after me. He called them. There is really no call unless someone hears you, as it happens in the passage, and I will make sure that people hear me say it decisively.
- They abandoned their nets and followed him. Let this not be a storybook encounter, but one that could and has happened to each of us. How else explain our presence in the assembly today? When we repeat in song the catchy phrase, ‘No turning back, no turning back,’ how deeply do we mean it?
- Central theme: I can hear a suddenness all through these words, and through all the original Greek of Mark’s Gospel. The word ‘immediately’ appears often there, although the translators of the Lectionary have removed it from our readings. They abandoned their nets.
- Message for our assembly: Are we attuned to God’s time? Are we ready to repent and give our lives for the Gospel?
- I will challenge myself: To speak to the sudden arrival of God’s kingdom and the urgent need for reform.
Word to Eucharist
- Do we process again as we always have? Or are we open to change, to the growth in the Spirit that Christ urges on us?
SOURCE: Paul J. Schlachter at LectorWorks.org