THE POWER OF JESUS’ CALL
The gospel of Jesus Christ is not good advice, it is good news. This is an important difference. Advice is something we hear, we consider and then decide how much of it, if any, we want to follow. If someone says “let me give you some advice about how you should get weeds out of your yard,” or, “you should really see this movie or read this book,” I’ll listen, consider what they said, and do it or not do it based on what I want to do. No big deal. We do this even with religious advice, “let me give you some advice on the best way to read your Bible every day, or what church you should go to.” Depending on who is giving us the advice we might give it more weight than we otherwise would, but we are still going to make the decision and do what we want to do.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is not good advice, it is good news. The news tells us what is happening, what happened, or what is about to happen. News reports, “A hurricane is about to hit the coast, you need to prepare.” “A hurricane has hit, this is what happened, this is what you should do.” Of course, we often treat news like it is advice; we decide whether we want to believe a hurricane is coming or not and whether or not we should prepare. But we recognize the difference between news and advice and know we should treat them differently. We consider advice, but we should respond to news, and it matters how we respond.
The good news of the gospel is bound up in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the one we must respond to. His news is that God made you and God loves you. No matter how you are living, no matter how far you are from him or his ways, you matter to him. He, Jesus, died for your sins, despite all the ways you reject or ignore or dishonor God, so you could be forgiven and freed to know and live for God. Jesus rose from the dead to give you life, to defeat death on your behalf. His kingdom is coming, and you need to be ready. You come into that kingdom by believing in him, turning away from other ways of living, and following him, experiencing his death to sin and the newness of resurrection life even now.
When Jesus goes to the Sea of Galilee and tells four fishermen, Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John, to follow him, Mark tells us that they respond instantly (1:18, 20). Mark does not tell us why they responded this way. He just says they dropped their nets, got out of the boat, left everything, and followed Jesus. The accounts in Luke and John fill out this occasion a little more, giving us some background that helps provide a more rational explanation for such a radical decision. Mark, however, doesn’t do this, and he does it on purpose. He wants us to see the power of Jesus’ call and to understand that the good news of the gospel demands an immediate response and that the right response is to start following Jesus.
The lack of explanation tempts us to provide one because we are tempted to see Jesus’ call as an offer to consider; as advice. Maybe those men were having a bad time fishing and were ready for a new career. Maybe they had been looking for the Messiah to help restore the fortunes of their people, and Jesus seemed like the most likely choice. Maybe they had listened to him preach before, rededicated their lives, and were ready to go when he called them to something deeper. They had considered Jesus’ advice and decided to take it.
Jesus’ call is not advice. It’s like a sharp military command that produces obedience. These men don’t ask Jesus what his plans are. They don’t take a few days to think it over or ask their families’ permission. They don’t seek counsel from religious experts or trusted advisors. They go. Jesus’ call is the call of God, who speaks, and it comes to be, who commands, and it stands firm (Ps 33:9). Considering this, we are meant to ask ourselves, who is this one who can create such immediate obedience and transformation? How should I respond to his power and authority? To his words of life?