January 22nd: “Immediately!”

This Week’s Passage: Mark 1:14-20

Highlights: Meeting Christ is a life changing experience resulting in an urgent desire to tell someone else of what Christ has done for us. Get caught up in the urgency of the gospel.

I. Establish the text

C. Other texts for Year B for January 22ndSunday in Ordinary Time

D. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?

14a Mark does not explain this until 6:16-29. Was this generally known by Mark’s audience? Or perhaps it demonstrates John’s following! Perhaps Mark includes this to show a shift of mantel from John to Jesus. Although the Fourth Gospel does this smoother having John’s disciples follow Jesus.

15 Note difference from John’s announcement of the good news. Both preach repentance, but John says: “One is coming mightier than I.”

16 Jesus meets us where we are. Like Moses saying the law is not far away (Deut 30:11 ff).

17 Is “fishers of men” a call to be powerful over others?

20 Would we leave behind all as quickly to follow Jesus?

E. Reconsider where the text begins and ends: What got chopped out?

  • This passage marks the institution of Jesus ministry.
  • Prior to this Jesus is baptized and tested in the wilderness, here he calls a staff for his ministry.
  • Should the passage start at 14b, thus avoiding the distractions of John the Baptizer: Which John? Why arrested? Why tell us?
  • It is followed by a series of healings which establish his authority and initiate the doing ministry.

II. Literary Study.

A. What is the history of the text? Who wrote it? When? In what social context? What Historical/Religious/Sociological factors influenced its writing?

  • Traditionally ascribed to a follower of Peter who wrote down a collection of stories about Jesus from Peter. Peter’s arrest and impending trial (or that of other followers) would have given urgency to the spreading of the gospel.

B. What parallel passages exist? How do they differ? How does this author’s intent differ from other authors? Is the text used elsewhere?

  • Matt 4:18-22 – Essentially the same as Mark.
  • Luke 5:1-11 – Luke places Jesus as using a boat of Peter, James and John to teach from. When Jesus tells them where the fish are they are surprised and make a Christological statement.
  • John 1:40-42 – John makes a statement of who Jesus is; where as Mark conveys an urgency of spreading the gospel.

C. Review syntax/meanings of critical words, phrases, idioms

  • Mark FREQUENTLY uses /kai euqus/ (and immediately) to convey the urgency of the gospel. This phrase appears twice in these 7 verses.

D. What is the literary style of the text? And how does it affect the reading? What does a poetic form do to the meaning? Lament/Praise/Petition? Any subtle variations in the repetitions? What is emphasized/minimized by the repetition?

  • The narrative gives a quick pace to the story.
  • Verse 19 slows this pace only slightly, giving the detail that they were preparing their nets to go fishing. But even this detail underscores the urgency of their mission, because they dropped their plans to follow Jesus.

III. Question the text.

A. Observe the passage from the perspective of its characters.

The participants in this narrative do not interact with one another nor with the events. Events envelope the disciples. Jesus is the point about which the events swirl.

C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?

  • Center of Gravity: Drop what you are doing and come and follow me NOW!
  • Music: “Jesus Call Us”

D. Look for conflict: stated or implied.

  • Did they really just drop their nets and follow Jesus with but one word? We might say that we would do likewise, but we live after the Crucifixion.
  • When Jesus called these men, he was only a popular teacher. Granted there are today charismatic people who gather people about them, but these men had jobs and family responsibilities.
  • What might have pushed these men to be open to following Jesus? Were they experiencing relationship difficulties at home? Have an unmet desire for adventure/ministry? Had fishing become unprofitable?

IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?

Pheme Perkins (New Interpreter’s Bible, “Mark”. Abingdon) notes the similarity of these calls to the call of Elisha who was plowing his field. She notes at least James and John were well off in being able to have hired hands and that the sudden departure of the sons may have put the entire family at risk. Also Peter was married (1:30) and presumably the abandoning of fishing put his wife at risk. She contrasts the OT use of nets and hooks to depict destruction with “fishers of men” indicating fulfillment, paralleling the shift from John the Baptizer’s emphasis on judgment to Jesus’ emphasis on fulfillment. Under reflections she notes the disquieting parallel with modern young people leaving family and occupation to join cults.

Ralph Martin, in (Knox Preaching Guides. John Knox Press), suggests this sermon outline: a “relationship to Christ is (1) personal; (2) life transforming; yet (3) societal, beckoning us to join Christ’s people whose motto is service for others (‘fishers of men’).”

V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?

Those times when my sermons were best received,
when parishioners came up and said: “I felt you were preaching directly to me,”
were those times when I was preaching to myself. — Rabbi Chet Diamond

A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?

Meeting Christ is a life changing experience resulting in an urgent desire to tell someone else of what Christ has done for us.

B. Focus Statement: Central, controlling, unifying theme.

Although we have our daily tasks in life, Christ interrupts us and invites us to share his ministry, inviting others to be transformed as well.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

Get caught up in the urgency of the gospel.

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