We’re back in Mark – The beginning of Genesis is a lot of information all at once – I think it’s best to take it slow. We’ll come back to the second creation story later in the week, I think. I also need to gather some resources – my memory of OT theology is fading fast.
Anyhow, back to Mark. Here’s the second part of the first chapter of mark – already action-packed. Mark doesn’t take his time! Here it is, from the ESV:
16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he [Jesus] 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.
This passage has always been very important to me. I grew up in a small village on the west coast of Vancouver Island – a village founded on fishing and logging. Many of the people in my church were fishermen, and my dad worked on and around fishing boats for most of my life. One thing I realized is that fishermen are fishermen (excuse the sexist language) pretty much everywhere you go. Working men, gruff, hardened by a hard life of manual labour. But beneath the hard and sometimes seemingly simple exterior often lies a man of great depth and deep thought. Fishing means keeping to a different cycle of life than others, and it means always smelling funny. Even more so, I would imagine, in the days before proper hygiene and good rain gear.
When I think of Simon (later Peter) and Andrew, and of John and James, these are the types of people I think about. I think about Randy, almost always smiling and working hard on his little boat. I think of his brother Shane. I think of my dad, running his prawn boat up and down the BC coast. I think abou the slightly bawdy jokes told with just a hint of guilt, and the strain of muscles and bones when a haul is being brought in. I think of deep discussions in the middle of the night, talks about life and death and anything else in an attempt to stay awake. I think about the wariness to new ideas that these types of men often have; they have been doing the same thing their whole lives, as have their fathers, and their fathers’ fathers.
And yet, despite the fact that these fishermen were probably fairly traditional in their way of life, they were eager to follow Jesus. It seems like they didn’t need much convincing. Now, maybe they thought Jesus was a revolutionary, come to overthrow the Romans and their oppressive taxation and pagan gods; or maybe they thought he was simply an itinerant preacher, spreading teaching that would traditionally only be accesible by the upper class. Regardless, they followed, because they saw something true, something honest.
21 And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. 23
I’m curious who ‘they’ are in this passage – the fishermen brothers? Or others in the synagogue? I’m thinking it’s the brothers, as perhaps this would have been their synagogue – maybe they had come for sabbath learning every week of their lives, taught by the same old men who taught off the scrolls, with no passion in their eyes or true understanding in their hearts. But Jesus… Jesus was something different.
And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him andcrying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
This is interesting – The demon is the first besides God to claim that Jesus is Holy. John alludes to it, but here the demon outright says it. Contrast this with the questioning onlookers: ‘What is this?’ Well, the demon seemed to know.
29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
And right away we have the first healing. This is incredible – within half a chapter we have: the Spirit of the Lord descending like a dove, a man teaching with great authority, a demonic exorcism, and a healing. And we’re just getting started. Stay tuned!