From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

Jan. 25 – Mark 1

Jesus’ call of the first disciples in the gospel of Mark is the lectionary reading for this coming Sunday. Spare and lean, Mark gives no details about the call of Peter and Andrew, James and John; nothing about their internal psychological states; nothing about their virtues or vices. The way Mark paints it, Jesus simply comes by, calls them, they drop everything and go.

Until recently I’d seen this as just a rough depiction of the calling, a barebones sketch that’s filled out by other gospel writers. Now, I’m thinking that Mark knows what he’s doing; that this leanness of depiction is intentional; that the calling is, simply put, a stark demonstration of Jesus’ authority. Throughout the gospel of Mark, when Jesus speaks it was so, and thus he demonstrates his authority:

  • 1:22 Jesus teaches (speaks) and people are astonished at his authority
  • 1:24 Jesus speaks to a man with an unclean spirit “Be silent, and come out of him” and it was so
  • 1:41 Jesus speaks to a man wit leprosy “Be clean”, and it was so
  • 2:11 Jesus tells a paralytic to rise, pick up his bed, and go home, and it was so
  • 4:41 Jesus commands the windstorm to be still, and it was so
  • 5:8 Jesus commands Legion to come out, and it was so
  • 5:41 Jesus commands “Talitha cumi”, and the dead is raised
  • 7:37 Jesus sighs “Ephphatha, and the deaf hear
  • 9:22 Jesus commands a mute spirit, and the dumb speak

It goes on: when Jesus speaks, he demonstrates his authority. Or to put it another way, Jesus creates what he commands. As in “let there be light”, as in “Lazarus, come out”, the words effect what they require. Jesus creates what he commands.

The calling of the first disciples, then, is NOT about the disciples – what was in their heart, whether they had heard Jesus preaching before, their complete willingness to drop everything. It IS about Jesus and his authority, an authority that creates what it commands.

So what? I think waay too often we assume that “it’s all about me”. We can get all balled up trying to discern our call, hear our call, wonder if we’re being called, or if we’re good enough to be called, or ready to be called, or willing to be called. Know what? It’s not all about me. It’s about Jesus Christ, who creates what he commands. As he gives me a new heart, so he creates willing disciples. Trusting that means I can stop worrying if I’m good enough or able enough, and just go where he leads, because he creates the disciples he demands.


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