And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. (Mark 1:17-18)
The word “immediately” in the verse above is a word we will see often in Mark’s gospel. Things happen fast – one right after the other. Stories are short, to the point and then press the reader forward into the next event. Mark wants people to see the power, the focus and the urgency that Jesus brings to his work.
As we begin Mark’s gospel, this chapter reminds us how important it is to start well. The more clarity you have and the more ducks you can put in a row as you begin, the better things are likely to unfold.
Jesus has someone prepare the way for him and also set him apart for his work. John the Baptist’s role is both to show people who Jesus is before he comes and then to point to him clearly when he arrives. John’s message prepares the way. John’s baptism sets Jesus apart to begin his work as Messiah.
When this goes well and things are ready, then you can deal with whatever challenges you face. It is no accident that once Jesus is set apart to do his work that the next thing that happens is the temptation in the wilderness. The word “immediately” is in this part of the story as well and Jesus encounters Satan in the wilderness and withstands the test. He is ready for work.
Even then, Jesus doesn’t feel able to do this work alone. God always prefers to work with others and Jesus embodies that with the call of the disciples. He finds allies for the work and builds a team from the beginning. These first disciples would also be the ones on which the church would be built after his resurrection. In fact, many believe Peter was the first pope for the church.
For us, Mark wants the church to be able to share the story with power and urgency. He wants us to be able to take what we receive and work quickly and with a sense that what we do matters. And he wants us to be able to show people Jesus and invite them to see what we see and share what we have received.