MONDAY MINUTES With Pastor Chris McCool (March 29, 2021)

Today, I want us to look at the rest of Mark Chapter 1.

We have seen that Mark begins with the good news that Jesus Christ IS the Son of God, and introduces us next to John the Baptist, who preached repentance for the remission of sins. After the introduction of Jesus by John the Baptist, Mark begins to tell us about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry on the earth.

First of all, Mark shares His message. In Mark 1:14-15, we learn that Jesus and John were singing off the same sheet of music: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15). Jesus proclaims that the Kingdom of God is “at hand” – i.e., there is no need to wait for some future kingdom, because the Kingdom that has been forecast is now HERE! The Old Testament prophets talked about how great God is, how high He sits on the heavenly throne; but guess what? HE IS NOW NEAR UNTO YOU (AT HAND)!

Secondly, Jesus begins to call His disciples. Simon (Peter) and Andrew, brothers who were fishermen, were the first to be called. Next, Jesus called James and John, the sons of Zebedee. In both cases, these men immediately left their vocations, their families, and their friends and followed Jesus.

Can you imagine this happening to you today? What if Jesus came up to you and said, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men?” He might use different terminology: if you are a farmer, He might say, “Follow me, and I will send you to reap in my fields that are white unto harvest.” If you are a banker, He might say, “Leave the treasures of men, and I will show you how to lay up treasures in heaven.” If you are a lawyer, He might say, “Follow me, and I will teach you the Great Commandment: love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” But in each case, He would call on you to follow Him, and serve Him in discipleship.

By the way, Jesus actually DOES still call people today! Maybe the invitation is not to leave our jobs and literally walk the dusty roads of Canaan, but nonetheless He calls us to service wherever we are. Sometimes we speak of our “church life” and our “secular life” as if they are separate and unrelated, but in fact ALL parts our lives are indelibly intertwined! Thus, in our “secular life” (work, recreation, etc.) we should still be a faithful servant of Christ. People in the world ought to know that there is a difference in us by how we live in the world!

Sometimes I run across a person who says, “Bro. Chris, I’m just not good enough to be a servant in His kingdom. I’ve done too many things that are contrary to a godly life!” For anyone who feels this way, let me introduce you to a young man named Levi, whom we read about in Mark 2:14-17.

Levi was a tax collector in Judaea. In that day, tax collectors were hated! They were considered traitors, because they were collaborators with the Roman government. They were considered thieves, because they almost always “skimmed off the top” of their collections, overcharging the people in order to pad their own pockets. No faithful Jew would be caught dead with a tax collector! Surely Jesus, an up-and-coming rabbi, would never be associated with someone like this?

And yet Jesus looks at Levi and says, “Follow me.” Can you imagine the shock and indignation that Peter and the other disciples must have felt? I’m sure Peter expressed himself too, since he was ALWAYS talking and never silent! But Mark tells us that Jesus called, and Levi “arose and followed him.”

Wouldn’t it have been appropriate for Levi to say, “No, Master, I’m not worthy – I’m a corrupt tax collector, for heaven’s sake!” Certainly there were valid criticisms from others that could have derailed his apostleship. And yet Levi followed Jesus, and ultimately this man Levi – this corrupt publican who was outcast by proper society – became Matthew, the writer of the first gospel! How amazing that God can take an unworthy vessel (which we all are!) and turn it for the glory of His Kingdom!

The rest of chapter 1 details the preaching and miracles of Jesus in the early days of His ministry. He was consistent in His message, and powerful in the performance of many miracles. And this same Jesus still is powerful in our lives today!

Would we leave all and follow Him? In truth, that is the still the calling today: to leave our old lives and serve Him in newness of life. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to have a drastic change in our present circumstances. But it does mean that we must have a drastic change in the way we live in our present circumstances!

For the child of God, there is no “secular” versus “religious”: every single day, we are disciples of Christ, no matter where we go or what we do. I am thankful that nothing I do can remove me from the family of God, but in much the same way that I always wanted to make my earthly father proud of me, I hope to live in such a way that my Heavenly Father is proud of me as well. We are His children, and we ought to act like it!

I pray you are blessed today and every day.

In Christ,

Elder Chris McCool, Pastor