The scene changes again in Mark and he takes us beside the seas side. (16-18)“As Jesus walked beside the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.”
This isn’t the first contact the disciples have with Jesus. They’ve heard his preaching about the kingdom of God being near. But now comes the key moment as Jesus makes it personal, “Come follow me.” He’s not preaching to the crowd he’s calling them, first Simon and Andrew, and then James and John.
It’s an invitation to live life with Jesus, to get to know him day in day out, to watch him, to learn from him. The word disciple means learner. This is an invitation to learn about God’s kingdom, about God’s word, how to understand and apply it to every area of life, how it was all fulfilled in Jesus, how it prophesied his crucifixion and resurrection, and how to teach that good news to others.
That call to live life learning from Jesus meant they had to leave their nets, they had to give up and they do. Because disciples have new priorities. Learning from and following Jesus becomes the greatest priority in the disciples life because they have repented and believed. Jesus mission becomes their mission, they are trained to become fishers of people.
That may mean for some of us that we are called to leave our jobs. But for most of us that is not the call. The Apostles are foundational to the church, Jesus has three years before his death, resurrection and ascension to teach them and prepare the foundations of teaching on which his church will be built. So he calls them to an intensive day in day out following, a learning, an apprenticeship. We are called to that same apprenticeship though it may not mean leaving our current job, it will mean everything changes just as transformationally.
As disciples we cannot have two priorities, we cannot have 2 great loves. Following Jesus involves leaving the priorities we had before. In Mark 8v34 Jesus says “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Jesus becomes the most important authority in our lives, the word of God our master. We sit at Jesus feet and his priorities become our priorities, his mission our mission. Confessing Jesus as Lord and Saviour is the start of following him, putting to death, leaving our old priorities and loves, and new ones that arise to rival him.
To follow Jesus is to begin life long learning. It’s not a one off decision but a daily recommitment. And it is all encompassing. It’s to be the opposite of a toothpaste Christian.
When do you think about toothpaste? For 3 minutes in the morning as you put it on your brush and for three minutes at night when you repeat the process. Disciples aren’t toothpaste followers of Jesus, just giving him 3 minutes at the start and end of every day but giving him nothing in between.
But we are constantly learning from Jesus. Daily leaving other things, putting other things to death, because we want to know and follow Jesus.
How are you learning from Jesus at the moment? What is he challenging you about? What is he seeking to reshape? What acceptable idolatries is he calling you to tear down? What other loves is he calling you to deny in order to follow him?
In Mark the disciples are constantly learning, being challenged about their too small an understanding of the God’s plan of salvation, about what it means to follow Jesus. Being stretched again and again to see the sheer magnitude and scope of God’s plan, his kingdom, and their part in it.
And as they fail – as Peter has just done in the verses before this, how does Jesus treat them? With a gentle yet tenacious love and grace. He challenges and calls and compassionately forgives. He rebukes and he redeems. He doesn’t write them off because of failures but he shows grace and teaches them of his love again and again so they go on living more like him.
How is your learning of Jesus? Are you learning? Are you allowing him to stretch you? To challenge your understanding of his kingdom and his call? Where have you been challenged and stretched in your discipleship this last year? How have you been called to learn about Jesus as you have walked with him and to leave other things that may rival Jesus?
How will you plan to do so this year? What new habits do you want to put in place as you think about your new normal? What will you leave so you can follow him?
Maybe some of the time we spend on our phones or on social media could be given over to learning from Jesus. Maybe what we need to learn most from Jesus is that discipleship is a group activity. We need others to help us, maybe you want to invest in helping others learn from Jesus this year, who will you ask to walk with you as the disciples walked together? Don’t be vague, don’t think I must think about that because come tomorrow you will have forgotten. Instead be deliberate; who will you ask before you eat your next meal and what will that look like? But remember learning from Jesus means listening to his gracious compassionate words, grace and love fuels discipleship that is transformational not guilt and pride.