Mark offers us a great deal of information in these few verses. Once again he relates the details in a succinct way, yet leaves us with an unavoidable conclusion, that Jesus was no mere man, He was indeed the Son of God.
“And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mark 1:9-11).
The Jews came to be baptized for the remission of sins (Mark 1:5), but Jesus’ baptism indicated that He was the one who came to take away sin. The water of Jordan could not remove sin, but the blood of the Saviour can. Through baptism He identifies Himself with the people as the Great High Priest.
At the very beginning of Jesus’ public ministry we find that He has His Father’s absolute approval and eternal love. The divine declaration confirms that God’s Son is the only possible means of salvation for all who repent of their sins. The water, the voice and the Holy Spirit spoke of the anointing that was upon Jesus.
If the Father is well pleased with His Son, then surely He is pleased with all that are in Him. Notice that nothing like this is said of the multitudes being baptized in the Jordan, for it is only through Christ that a sinner can be accepted by God, “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6).
“And immediately the Spirit driveth Him into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto Him” (Mark 1:12-13).
To prove that Jesus was indeed the sinless Messiah, the Holy Spirit took Him into the wilderness to be tested by the Devil for forty days and nights. Satan tried every way possible to get the Lord to compromise His position and ministry. He was offered various shortcuts to glory and power, but He rejected every one of them. He had come into the world to do His Father’s bidding, “Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7). His baptism spoke of new life for the believer, but His temptation revealed that sin and Satan do not need to have the victory over us, that is, while we remain in Him.
“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15)
Jesus’ message was no different from that of John the Baptist (Mark 1:4), and was exactly the same message taken up by those who followed Him, “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). This simple message should never be changed, for it is the word that God has anointed for calling the lost to Christ. We must tell them that they must repent and believe if they are to be saved. No formulas or manmade methods will penetrate the sinner’s heart. This simple message is as old as the Ark, “And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly” (2 Peter 2:5), so why continue to use ways that do not work?
Without repentance and faith the sinner cannot be saved. Many rely on their infant baptism to see them through to Heaven, but water does not make anyone a member of the true church of Christ, and neither does it make them fit for Heaven. It is our duty to tell them the direct truth rather than trying to convince them that they are lost in sin, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).
“Now as He walked by the sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed Him. And when He had gone a little farther thence, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets. And straightway hHe called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after Him” (Mark 1:16-20).
The first followers of Jesus were humble fishermen rather than lords and noblemen. He did not go to the priest or the rabbis, but to the common men and women of that day. The Kingdom of God is not advanced by either religion, politics or wealth, rather it is through the anointing power of the Holy Spirit, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). The Lord does not need great men to get the work done, the missionaries of the past are proof of this, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). Christianity spread throughout the world as the Holy Spirit used a few uneducated fishermen.
Jesus wanted Peter, Andrew, James and John to carry on in the fishing trade, but for souls of men rather than fish. Their lives were to be taken up with bringing the lost to Christ. It would take as much patience, toil and diligence as it did when catching fish.
Notice that this passage begins with the ministry of the Master and ends with the commission of His fishermen. He called them, so they must call others. The followers of Christ were meant to carry forward what Jesus had begun. Why is it that today’s fishermen often fail?
1. They have listened to the lies of Satan and have taken a shortcut to success, glory and wealth.
2. They have refused to forsake all for the cause of Christ.
3. They have exchanged the simple message with gimmicks to attract the lost into the church.
Only by returning to the Master’s message can we truly be known as His fishermen.