“After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God,” (Mk. 1:14, NIV). Isn’t it odd that the author Mark begins his new paragraph with the standalone statement that John was imprisoned? The preceding paragraph does not mention of any threat or warnings John the Baptist might have received, nor does it even explain the reason of his imprisonment. The statement is brief and direct: “John was put in prison.”
Readers of the gospel are made to understand that Mark was not attempting to focus on the reason why John was arrested and locked up. The gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John tell us that John the Baptist’s arrest has something to do with his preaching of God’s wrath to those who sin against Him. Mark does not record this. Rather, the author was more taken aback by the actions Jesus immediately took after His baptizer was incarcerated. It is as if Mark was suggesting that no person in their right mind should have been preaching the same message John preached if they were prison-allergic. The normal thing would be to move on, get a job, find a spouse, and raise a family. But no, Jesus did more than what the locked-up John the Baptist had done—He immediately “proclaimed the good news,” told people that they were sinners, demanded that they ought to “repent and believe,” and—a most serious offense—recruited disciples.
What adds more to the excitement is how Jesus was able to recruit followers like Simon, his brother Andrew, and the sons of Zebedee: James and John. These men were not just hanging around, jobless, and slacking. They were fishermen who were currently engaged in their profession. Here comes Jesus who told them to follow Him. And they immediately did. James and John even had to leave behind their father Zebedee with hired men so that they could follow Jesus (v.20). We hear no complaints, no reactions, and no confusion. Why? Because this is what the Father expects of Jesus and this is how Jesus understood the level of urgency to preach the good news of God. Mark did not bother to explain to his readers about the silence of the newly recruited disciples. The author sees Jesus who’s on an important mission and this mission demands that He moves quickly and firmly.
The decision of Simon, Andrew, James and John to immediately follow Jesus without question highlights 2 important lessons: that the need to preach the good news is urgent, and that its urgency and importance surpasses any other concerns in life—concerns like profession, livelihood, and family. Did I just say “family?” Yes I did. God comes first. This is why Jesus—even when His predecessor John the Baptist just got arrested and imprisoned—never faltered in His decision to continue preaching. Who is first in your life?”
A precious lesson from one of my favourite human beings on earth! In the midst of seeking God’s face, the above comes very timely and affirms me that I ought to surpass any concerns in life in response to what God impregnated in my heart. This is how I know that you have loved me first. This is where I chose to love you in return.