Disciples of the Bridegroom

Mark 1:16–20 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him. 

The men are busy with their own plans, their own lives, vocations and families. The men are occupied.

But they are called out of their plans. I think the wives in our midst might have a better understanding of this

Many of you ladies had aspirations, plans and lives before you met your husbands. Your husbands proposed that you follow them and that meant leaving your families, your occupations and plans to fulfill a high and holy calling to be your husband’s helpmate and the mother of his children.

Yes, I think you ladies might comprehend the radical nature and costliness of being called in this way, better than the men do.

Most men are not called out of their lives; their professions, families, etc. in quite the same way. It isn’t as holistic, and it is largely metaphorical. Most men do not consider their calling to leave everything to become a Christian in quite the same way as a lady is to become a wife.

A good wife is an example of the realities of discipleship. The radical alteration of self that comes with becoming a bride is something that we all need to consider more deeply when contemplating what Christian discipleship is all about.

A Christian’s response to Christ is to be humble, self-sacrificing, submissive and missional.

The call to be a wife reshapes her familial relationships, vocations, personal aspirations, etc.

But the focus is what the lady is becoming. Not what she was but what she is becoming; a bride.

That is what the beauty of a wedding day is all about. What the lady is becoming. The bone of His bone and the flesh of His flesh.

I think this is instructive for us. We are the bide of Christ and collectively it’s important to explore this metaphor to inform our understanding of the Christian life.

Jesus calls four men. Two sets of brothers. He is rebuilding a new family from an old family. Jesus is forming a new Israel out of the Old Israel. Jesus is calling individual men to become His eternal bride – the church.

And what does he call them to? V. 17 “And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

Jesus is calling them to follow Him and Jesus will remake them.

Again, the truly fascinating elements are what Mark leaves out. The response of the four men are non-verbal. They don’t say the sinner’s prayer. They make no formal, public, verbal declaration.

The men respond to Jesus’ call by action. They obey. They don’t talk; they act.

And the action is a response to Jesus’ declaration that he will remake them. What they will be, is the reason they act.

What Jesus is doing is the reason for their doing.

Discipleship is about what we are becoming. And what we are becoming is the reason for our doing.

Jesus is not interested in words, here. He is interested in obedience.

These four men form the inner circle, the nucleus of the Church, the new Israel, the bride of Christ.

And this betrothal is about fruitfulness. Jesus says He will make them fishers of men. They will cast nets and bring men from darkness to light, from Satan to God, from death to life.

They will bear fruit. They will produce. They will be fruitful and fill the earth as the faithful bride of the Lord Jesus.

I am not talking about the individual men. Applying the bride of Christ metaphor to individual Christians is creepy bad exegesis.

The bride of Christ, a feminine personage, is the collective, the assembly, the congregation. Here in v. 16-20, there is not one man, but four. The first assembly of the new congregation, the new people, the new Israel.

They leave their occupation and their father, just like a bride, to follow their head on His mission.

Their identity is not who they were as individuals when they were called. Their identity is not what they were doing when they were called. Their identity is not the family or worldly possessions they had when they were called. Their identity is found now in what they are becoming. What Christ is making them. Who they are in relation to Jesus.

Their identity is oriented toward the Head of the Church, the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus.

This is a radical departure from the concepts of discipleship we are often given. Most definitions of discipleship sound like something out of a comparative religion course.

But the uniqueness of the Christian Gospel is that Discipleship isn’t about what you are doing, but what you are becoming. Who you are in relation to Jesus. What He is doing is the cause of our doing. And our doing must be fruitful.

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is a high and holy calling. It is as radical an alteration as a single lady becoming a bride. Meditate on that.

The church is the bride of Christ who submits to Christ, whom He washes with the word, provides for, nurtures and protects.

Author: Michael Kloss

There is a Sunday conscience, as well as a Sunday coat; and those who make religion a secondary concern put the coat and conscience carefully by to put on only once a week. - Charles Dickens

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