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Sermon Ideas For Mark 1:14-20 Part 4

There has been some confusion about the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. After what major event did the beginning of this
ministry take place? The answer is found in Mark 1:14-15 where we read, "Now, after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, `The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.'" (RSV). Many
have believed that the beginning of Jesus' ministry followed either his baptism, the temptation, the announcement in Nazareth, his bar mitzvah, or even "In the beginning...," (Jn 1:1 ff). However, Mark makes it clear that the Galilean ministry of Jesus begins following the arrest of John the Baptist.
In our lesson for today we also see that this is when the disciples are "called" to follow Jesus and join in this new movement. Reading Mark, on this point, one might conclude that this is the first time the disciples met Jesus. But, after reading the first three chapters of the Gospel of John, we discover that this is not the case at all. For example, in John we find, "John, of course, had not yet been thrown in prison." (Jn 3:24). Therefore, everything written in John before John 3:24 happens before the ministry of Jesus officially begins!
From reading John 1:29 ff, we see that Jesus first met Andrew and an unnamed companion, perhaps John the apostle, while the Baptist is preaching in Bethany beyond the Jordan, far to the north on a tributary of the Yarmulk River. Andrew and the unnamed disciple spend the night with Jesus and from here Jesus is taken to Capernaum where he meets Peter, Philip, and Nathanael. What this suggests is that Jesus met these men long before the "calling of the disciples" in Mark 1, where the implications is that this is the first time Jesus meets Peter, Andrew, James, and John.
Jesus obviously formed a preparation committee, of sorts, and began to train these people for the mission that was to begin following the arrest of John the Baptist. He also relocated from his home village of Nazareth to Capernaum perhaps to be near to these earliest followers. And it was here that the Galilean ministry was launched as indicated in Mark 1:14.
What does all of this mean to us today? One answer is that Jesus, being a real human being, like us, made plans, worked with a committee, and set some specific goals in his life. The ministry was not some spontaneous action, but a well thought out, planned, and deliberate action on the part of Jesus and the people who had committed themselves to his mission prior to the arrest of John. There is also the implication that this period was lengthy. According to John 1:1-John 3:24, Jesus was very active during this time of preparation for the miracle of Cana and the encounter with Nicodemus takes place before the ministry begins.
If Jesus is our example and model, we too should make the most of our opportunities to plan for ministry. There is always room for spontaneity, but the most effective ministry is anchored in preparation. This passage shows us the human side of Jesus in ways we might have considered before. It also serves as a guideline for all of us as we seek to be best ministers we can be.
Charles Page Copyright 1993 Charles Page writes from the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies, an Interdenominational Study Center located in Israel, where he is the Academic Dean. For more information on the Jerusalem Center, call (800) 929-5327.