Mark 1:18 Text & Translation
18 καὶ εὐθὺς ἀφέντες τὰ δίκτυα ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ.1
Straight away, having left the nets, they followed Him. (Mk 1:18, AT)
Left (ἀφίημι | aphiēmi ) literally means to “let go”.4 It is actually the same word that is translated “forgive” (cf. Mk 1:4, 2:5, etc.).5 Metaphorically, forgiveness entails the letting go of the guilt/penalty of sin.
Following Christ Means Christ Comes First
As we’ve said, although several words translate the same idea, in the Gospels,11 follow (ἀκολουθέω | akoloutheō) is the key verb concerning Christian discipleship (Mk 2:14-15, 8:34, 10:21, 28; 15:41).12
And followers of Christ frequently leave things behind (Mk 1:20, 2:14, 10:21, 28; cf. Mt 8:22; Lk 9:61-62).16
As we shall see, James and John leave their fishy business — and their father (Mk 1:20). Matthew/Levi leaves his tax collector’s booth (Mk 2:14).17
Later in Mark we find:
28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” 29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life (Mk 10:28-30, NIV).18
There is an enormous cost to following Jesus (cf. Lk 9:57-62); but it pales in comparison to the benefits. In Luke we read:
61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Lk 9:61-62, NIV cf. Mt 8:22)19
Not even family should get in the way of following Jesus. For the divisive message of the gospel (Mt 10:34; Lk 12:51) can divide families — men against fathers and daughters against mothers (Mt 10:35). The members of one’s own household may even become enemies (Mt 10:36).
Jesus calls us to uncompromising, loving loyalty to Him. He even says anyone who loves their father or mother or son or daughter more than Him is not worthy of Him (Mt 10:37) — a claim only the LORD could make (Dt 6:4-5; cf. Ex 32:27; Dt 13:6-11).20
If we are following Jesus, He should be our number one priority. As explained in a previous sermon, “If We’re Following Christ, Christ Comes First“.
Following the King may lead to losing biological family ties, but it leads to gaining spiritual family ties (cf. Mk 10:29-30) — our blood relatives (through the blood of Christ) who also put God’s word into practice (Mt 12:46-50, esp. Mt 12:48, 49-50; Lk 8:21).
Following the King may lead to losing secular professions, but it leads to working in the most important spiritual profession.
Yet following the King is not merely about a spiritual profession — with one’s lips (cf. Mk 7:6). As we’ve said, following is an action word. It entails imitating and serving Jesus.
Not everyone who calls Jesus, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of God — only those who do the will of the Father in heaven (Mt 7:21-23). “Faith” without works is dead.
All in all, this account demonstrates Jesus’ authority.23. The King — who is the Messiah, the Son of God — has been anointed by the Spirit of God,24 and has divine authority to command complete and utter devotion.
After being summoned by Jesus to become fishers of people, Simon and Andrew immediately drop their fishing nets and follow Jesus. They demonstrate the appropriate reponse to Christ’s authoritative call to discipleship — a call to complete and utter devotion to Him over everything and everyone else.
- Barbara Aland et al., eds., The Greek New Testament, Fifth Revised Edition (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2014), Mk 1:18.
- Brooks, 48; Stein, 78; Guelich, 51; Strauss, 83; Schnabel, 54
- Stein, 79; Strauss, 83
- NIDNTTE, 444; EDNT, 181
- UBS, 41
- Keener, 130
- Garland, 69
- Edwards, 50; Strauss, 85
- Stein, 78; cf. Guelich, 51
- Garland, 69
- “With one exception (Rev 14:4), the use of this term to refer to discipleship is limited to the Gospels.” Bock, 410
- Bock, 410
- Bock, 410; cf. Lane, 67
- Lane, 67
- “One must drop everything, because entering the kingdom is more important than even life itself.” Stein, 79.
- Bock, 410
- Bock, 410
- Bock, 410; Stein, 78; France, 97; Strauss, 84
- Bock, 410; Stein, 79
- Keener, 73
- Bock, 411
- cf. Cole, 113
- Kernaghan, 44; English, 53; Lane, 69; Stein, 80; France, 97; Schnabel, 53
- Kernaghan, 44