Introduction to this study
So far in Mark:
1:1-3 we’ve heard Mark’s announcement of the beginning of the Good News;
1:4-8 met John the Baptist; [Advent 2]
1:9 witnessed Jesus’ baptism by John;
1:10-11 experienced a trinitarian theophany; [Baptism of Jesus]
We know about and again will hear about
1:12-13 the Holy Spirit driving Jesus into the wilderness for the biblical number of forty days. [Lent 1]
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” 16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
Backtracking: John 20:1-18
Last week in John’s gospel, we found Jesus in Galilee, where he found and called Philip, who then fetched Nathanael and told Nathanael “come and see!” We discussed our own experiences of being invited to church, to “come and see.”
The time is fulfilled; the kingdom of God has come near.
Closely paraphrasing Paul Nuechterlein, senior pastor at Prince of Peace ELCA, Portage, MI:
In a democratic world, we do not talk about reigns any more than we talk about kingdoms. But we do talk a whole lot about “culture”! So I suggest: “The time is fulfilled, and the culture of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” What does it mean to distinguish God’s culture from human cultures? What does it mean to be “called out” of conventional human culture and the structures of this world to begin to be disciples of Jesus, the one who brings God’s culture near to us? Why is this such good news?
Thinking about Gospel / Good News
1. What do you think Mark means by “the beginning of the good news?”
2. What do you think Jesus means by “Good News”?
3. What information or announcement anywhere would you consider good news?
4. Rephrase Mark 1:15 in your own words.
5. As a student or in the workplace, how were you/are you at following directions?
6. As a parent, boss (manager, supervisor, group leader) how are you at giving instructions?
7. Is it easier to follow someone or to ask someone to follow?
Repent – Believe – Follow
Just like last week’s passage from John’s gospel, this one from the gospel according to Mark is about evangelism (being a messenger of the good news / inviting) and discipleship (following the good news of Jesus).
8. What criteria do you use for obeying an order or following a leader?
9. What does it mean to leave what you are doing and follow Jesus?
10. How easy is it for you to follow Jesus?
11. How are we similar to the Galilee fishermen?
12. How is our situation different from the Galilee fishermen’s?
Where we live: according to scripture
Jesus adds another level: not only are we to follow Jesus, but we are to invite others to follow him. Sometimes we subtly invite by allowing people to see how we live, observe our choices, and note our values. Hopefully, our lives become a witness to the incredible love of Christ. Other times, we directly ask people to learn about Christ and to follow him. Jesus contextualized his invitation using the vocabulary and tools of the trade of the people he was speaking to.
13. How can we translate our information about Jesus and our invitation to follow him into the spoken vocabulary and other languages of the people we meet?
14. What do you imagine a friend, neighbor, co-worker, acquaintance, that stranger you haven’t yet talked with might consider good news?
Where we live: God acts! Still.
Barbara Brown Taylor:
“What we may have lost along the way is a full sense of the power of God—to recruit people who have made terrible choices; to invade the most hapless lives and fill them with light; to sneak up on people who are thinking about lunch, not God, and smack them upside the head with glory.” Home by Another Way
Plainly and simply, God acts, whether or not we think we’re ready.
Final thoughts: What insights have you gained in this study?