I’m still into Mark right now (see installment 1 here), and boy oh boy is it getting good. I really have to thank my small group and my trusty Zondervan NIV Study Bible for how fascinating this reading has been. Also, I’m linking to BibleGateway.com throughout the post just to provide some sort of link to the text, but everything I’m reading comes from my study Bible as mentioned above and some small group convos.
Ok, on to the good stuff.
1) So this one is probably more commonly known, but still a good story. John the Baptist was arrested by King Herod for telling him to stop sleeping with his brother’s wife Herodias (Weird right? That’s like Paul and Paula, or George and Georgia, or Robert and Roberta…) (Mark 1:14, Matthew 14:3-4). Anyway, Mark’s a brief guy but Matthew tells us the whole story in chapter 14:1-12. Herodias convinced her daughter to dance for Herod on his birthday, and Herod was so taken by it that her promised her whatever she wanted in front of all his guests. Herodias had planned on that and had her daughter ask for John the Baptist’s head on a platter. Apparently she didn’t like being called out. So Herod, feeling the pressure of having made a promise in front of all his guests, sadly delivered on his promise. 😦
2) The Sea of Galilee was actually not a sea at all, but a lake. I had no idea. I’m no scholar, but based on the maps in my Bible it looks like they called a lot of bodies of water seas back then. So all that to say it was a lake fed by the Jordan River, and a pretty small one at that, measuring 14×6 miles. Compared to Lake Erie – the smallest of the Great Lakes – which measures in at 241×57 miles – it was pretty tiny. It was also called the Sea of Tiberias and the Sea of Kinnereth because it was shaped like a harp. Interesting, right?
3) This was the most interesting thing I learned from Mark. In Mark 1:16-20 Jesus is walking by the Sea of Galilee and sees brothers Simon (later known as Peter) and Andrew fishing. He calls them to follow Him and He’ll make them “fishers of men,” and Mark tells us they do it “at once.” James and John Zebedee do the same thing. These were Jesus’s first disciples.
My small group leader was fascinated by Mark’s use of “at once” so we looked in to it. Apparently Mark is the king of “at once.” He uses it 47 times in his gospel. Homeboy was very succinct. Matthew also tells us the four dropped their fishing nets and joined Jesus “at once” (Matthew 4:20).
So why did they react so quickly? Luke and John give us some more context. Andrew and Simon Peter and James and John Zebedee may have dropped their nets at once because it wasn’t their first encounter with Jesus. Luke 5:1-11 tells us that Jesus was teaching at the Sea of Galilee earlier and the shore was getting crowded. So he spotted Simon Peter’s boat and asked if he could teach from the boat. Afterwards he pointed Simon Peter and Andrew to a huge catch of fish, even though their nets had come up empty all day. Simon Peter recognized it as a miracle from the Lord and knelt down to Jesus. The Zebedees saw the whole thing go down and were also amazed.
John tells us even more in John 1:35-42. Andrew (Simon Peter’s brother and fishing partner) was John the Baptist’s disciple. One day Jesus walked by and John the Baptist pointed to Him and called Him the “Lamb of God.” Andrew ran after Him and spent the whole day with Jesus. Afterwards Andrew told his brother Simon Peter that he’d met the Messiah, and took Simon Peter to meet Jesus.
All that to say, by the time Jesus called Simon Peter, Andrew, and James and John Zebedee from their fishing boats they had all spent some time together, and the men had come to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. So naturally they went with him “at once.”
Phew… this book is getting good!