I’m certain reading the Bible is not supposed to feel like condemnation (conviction, yes but condemnation, no) but on my current reading of the gospel of Mark, that is exactly how I feel – condemned and accused.
Mark 1:17-18, 20 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they [Simon & his brother, Andrew] left their nets and followed him...Without delay he called them and they [James & his brother, John] left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
I’ve been impacted by this before because there are markings in my bible surrounding the words I’ve emphasized above. It appears Jesus appeared to them immediately returning to Galilee after his temptation in the desert and neither set of brothers asked questions but dropped everything, literally at their feet, to follow Jesus. No doubt you and I have heard messages at one time or another about following Jesus without any further delay. It’s great in theory but 1 Thessalonians 5:21 tells us to test everything and only keep what is good.
The gospel of Luke writes about it differently. In his gospel, after the temptation of Jesus, he returned to Galilee and started teaching and performing miracles before calling disciples to join him. Perhaps the chronological order is out of sync but even so, according to Luke 5:1-11 Jesus showed up at the marina where Peter, Andrew, James & John were working and was teaching and performing miracles so when Jesus called each of them, they had already seen and heard Jesus in action. It gives a very different perception than the book of Mark and I no longer feel condemnation.
There are still some things to learn from the first disciples. Peter, Andrew, James & John were ready for Jesus. Is there anyone who hasn’t questioned if life is the sum of our job? Haven’t we all wondered if there was more? I think the first disciples asked these questions and they weren’t satisfied with the answers they were looking for so when Jesus taught a fresh message and supported it by acts of power and healing, they reacted quickly. I want to respond quickly when Jesus invites me to come because I’ve already been doing my thinking and I’m ready for what he has to offer. Are you ready? Are you hungry for more?
Secondly, Peter, James and John were with Jesus more than anyone. Being the first disciples seemed to cement their relationship and they are recorded with awesome displays of power being manifested through them in the books of Acts. I can’t help but assume there is a correlation between being early [and eager] adopters of faith and a relationship with Jesus and accomplishing big feats for Jesus. I don’t despise small beginnings but I have great faith for great acts of power and miracles. Miracles are the bi-product of a relationship and time spent with Jesus.
I feel like I am like Peter. I grew up in a Christian home, going to church regularly but I felt there must be more. Like Peter, when I heard Jesus’ message afresh and witnessed miracles, I believed and set my sights on him to follow wherever he leads. We’re in a new reformation of the church, and I’m on board with where it’s going, even if I don’t know all the bumps and turns. Are you?