So where do we begin? Well, for the disciples, it all began with two simple words from Jesus, “Follow me.” And the journey ahead would change everything.
So that’s where we’ll start too: following Jesus. Our plan is simple. We’ll read two Bible books. First we’ll follow Jesus’ story in the Gospel of Mark; then we’ll talk about our story in the book of Colossians. In Mark we’ll see what it meant to follow Jesus back then, and in Colossians we’ll see what it means to follow him today.
The most important part of this plan is the Bible reading, but I’ll be here to keep you company and explain things as we go. After all, journeys are better together. Invite a friend, and you’ll get to know Jesus while you get to know each other! You can read on your own, then check in to talk about it each day – or each week. Or it can just be me and you.
Okay, let’s jump in. Today, Mark chapter 1, starting at verse 1:
“The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.”
That’s quite an opening. First, it’s good news, and I love good news. It’s about Jesus, the Messiah. Messiah means “anointed one” – as in the one, God’s chosen. And Jesus is the Son of God.
Verse 2 begins with a prophecy from centuries earlier:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way.”
God’s messenger was a man named John, sent to preach and to prepare hearts for Jesus. How did he prepare them? Well, verse 4 says that he preached a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Repentance is the key. To repent is to change your mind and change your direction. Recognize, “What I did was wrong,” then turn away from it to follow a whole new direction. And so people came from far and wide to hear John, to repent, and get baptized.
This is key. The first step to following Jesus is a change of direction. Confess the wrong you’ve done, turn away from it, and turn towards Jesus. John baptized with water as a sign of repentance, but he also told them that Jesus was coming and “he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Then in verse 9, Jesus came from Nazareth, and John baptized him. But Jesus’ baptism was different. The Spirit descended on him like a dove, and in verse 11:
“A voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’”
There is so much to see here, but I want you to read for yourself. That’s how this works. I’ll focus on the big picture, then you read the details. Verse 14:
“After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’”
Jesus came with a message: God’s Kingdom – the place where God rules as King – is near. It’s at hand, within reach. And he invited people to repent – to turn from their sin – and believe the good news.
But if the Kingdom was near, how would they reach it? Verse 16:
“As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’”
Take note. The key to reaching God’s Kingdom is in two little words: follow Jesus.
“At once they left their nets and followed him.”
Notice that they had to leave something in order to follow. Jesus moved on and found James and John (different John), and they too left what they had and followed Jesus.
I wonder sometimes if the disciples knew that their lives were about to change, or that the whole world would change. I don’t know how much they understood just yet, but they trusted Jesus enough to take the first steps.
So let’s join them. Read Mark 1. Watch Jesus’ authority as he casts out demons. Feel his compassion as he heals the sick. Hear his wisdom as he teaches. And as you read, understand that Jesus does not invite us to simply believe a set of facts or ponder some philosophy. And he doesn’t invite us to join an institution. He invites us to join him on a journey. He invites us to follow.
For Reflection & Discussion:
- What do you think Jesus means when he says, “Follow me”? How is that different from saying “listen to me” or “believe me”?
- Which of these words do you think best describe what it means to be a Christian: religion, faith, philosophy, rules, journey, relationship? Why?
- How did you come to know about Jesus? Share your story.