Mark 1.14-20: Jesus calls his first disciples
May God give us hearts open to what the Spirit is saying to the church today. Amen.
Today’s gospel story is all about following Jesus. At Ark a few weeks ago, we were also thinking about following Jesus, and we played a game to help us think about it: follow the leader.
We noticed a few things about following the leader, which we might also apply to following Jesus:
- you have to watch the one you’re following carefully
- you have to go where they go
- you have to try to make yourself and what you’re doing as much like the one you’re following as possible.
So, what do we see when we watch Jesus carefully? We see him eating with sinners, praying for and with outcasts, spending time with those people nobody wanted to come near. We see him challenging and subverting convention, speaking truth to power, and praying and living in new ways. And watching Jesus carefully isn’t just about reading the Bible – it’s about the hear and now. The Spirit is living and active in the world today, but we have to watch carefully, prayerfully to see it.
If we want to go where Jesus goes, where will that take us? Perhaps to the margins of society, wherever those margins are in our world today. Certainly far out of our comfort zone. Jesus goes where he does not want to go, for the sake of other. He goes where God calls him. Our call, our vocation, is to look for Christ in our lives, in the world, and to follow where he leads.
And how do we make ourselves like Jesus, in our being and our doing? By all those things we’ve already mentioned, but our own efforts can never be enough. We can only truly become Christ-like through prayer – heartfelt prayer for the transformation of the Holy Spirit. And it’s an ongoing, lifelong process of renewal.
And what is it Jesus is calling us to, when he calls us to follow him? He tells us in this morning’s gospel passage: “repent, and believe in the good news.” Jesus himself is the Good News – Jesus and God’s kingdom which he comes to invite us into.
And what place does repentance have in this good news? To repent is to turn – to turn away from what’s bad in the world, and towards the way of Jesus – to leave behind everything for the sake of following Christ, just as his first disciples did in the story we’re looking at today.
On this Remembrance Sunday there is a special place for repentance, as we turn away from the things of war which have led to such violence and destruction of life through the ages, and commit ourselves afresh to work for peace. If any of you have been wondering why I am wearing a white poppy, that is why: it is a commitment not only to remembrance but to repentance and to turning away from the violence of the world to the peace of Christ.
May we continually hear afresh and obey the call of Jesus turn again and follow him.