Refresh Ministry Bible Study – “It Begins With a Call” or, “The Call of the Wild”
I. Text: Mark 1:1-20 (ESV)
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”
4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
(per Wikipedia) Traditionally thought to be a summary of Matthew, which accounts for its place as the second gospel in the Bible most scholars now regard it as the earliest of the gospels, dating from c. AD 66–70 (during Nero’s persecution of the Christians in Rome or the Jewish revolt). Mark was written in Greek, for a gentile audience.
III. Observations/Main Points
Faster-paced than the other gospels (just take a look at the first twenty verses of the other gospels); seems like a summary of the Gospel; missing a lot of the details we might think of as related to the Gospel story (like what?); lot of calling out and calling others happening in this section of Scripture (see bolded parts); v. 2 peep Isaiah 40:1-5; v. 4 first real character is John the Baptist; v. 3 John is the voice crying out in the wilderness (John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness, as well as John 1:19-23); what are some instances that might be seen as some form of calling? (see bold); v. 4 John calls to the people and addresses their deep concern – the topic of repentance for forgiveness of sin draws them out to him; v.6 John is a wild dude; v. 7-8 John knows to what he himself has been called – to point people to Jesus; v.11 first thing that Jesus is called into is NOT position as Savior of the world, but Son of God; v. 12 Jesus is called (by the Spirit) to go into the wilderness; v. 14-15 Jesus calling others into the truth of the gospel (it’s a simple message, but it comes from the heart…believe in Jesus for that’s the place to start, and I say HEY!); v. 17 Jesus calls to Simon and Andrew; v. 20 Jesus calls to James and John
Can someone summarize what is going on in this passage?
From v. 4, what first called out to you in your walk?
In the space that you’ve been called to, what have you done to point those around you to Jesus? How might you do so? (don’t need to be super amazing looking or super talented; just look at how wild John was!)
What do we think of when we hear the word “calling”? What might be dangerous about “calling”? (e.g., John could have possibly just kept quiet about Jesus and exalted himself; idea that you commit yourself entirely to calling = big risk; there’s always going to be a “how do you know if…”)
Notice that all of the instances of calling can be centered on Jesus in one way or another (and not by a large stretch of imagination – it’s pretty apparent). Certainly, that is a lot of calling – but what about response? The passage ends with Jesus doing some direct calling of His own, namely Simon and Andrew, James and John. The calling is both a calling toward and a calling away from; Jesus is called toward the reality of being God’s Son, but He is called away to the wilderness, where He is tempted, before proclaiming the Gospel to the people. Simon, Andrew, James, and John were called toward following some random guy who claimed to be able to make them fishers of men (like why???) and called away from their livelihoods and the lives that they were comfortable living. The Gospel ought to have this effect of calling toward and calling away in our lives; the fishermen are our clearest example, it seems. To describe what a life called towards the Gospel looks like, Nouwen says (in Life of the Beloved), “We may be little, insignificant servants in the eyes of a world motivated by efficiency, control and success. But when we realize that God has chosen us from all eternity, sent us into the world as the blessed ones, handed us over to suffering, can’t we, then, also trust that our little lives will multiply themselves and be able to fulfill the needs of countless people?” Let’s consider in what capacity the Gospel is calling towards God and away from familiarity and complacency.