14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news* of God,* 15and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near;* repent, and believe in the good news.’*
16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. 17And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ 18And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
The wilderness area was in the south, in Judea, near the Dead Sea. After John was arrested, Jesus returned to the region of Galilee – or perhaps he had already been in that area – but after John’s arrest he began to proclaim the “good news of God.” What is the “good news”? Jesus is proclaiming that the time is “fulfilled”, the Kingdom is near. This is good news, not a dire warning. Mark begins his gospel calling it the “good news” of Jesus Christ. The very word, “gospel”, means “good news”. The “good news” of Jesus Christ – and the “good news” of the Kingdom of God are the same message, God is doing a new thing in the world. God’s Son is inaugurating his Kingdom on earth.
One day Jesus was walking along the Sea of Galilee, and he saw some men fishing – Simon (later Peter) and Andrew were casting their nets into the Sea (the Sea of Galilee really is a large lake, and has been called various names over the years, including the current, Lake Tiberias.) And Jesus told Simon and Andrew to follow him – he would make them fish for people – they would use the skills they had learned as fishermen to bring people into the Kingdom. These fishermen did not know who Jesus was at that time, certainly not that he was the Son of God, or even the Messiah. It would take most of Mark’s gospel for them to figure it out. But they “immediately”, without delaying or going back or taking care of things, left their nets behind and followed Jesus. And when they had gone on a little way, they met James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were in their boats mending their nets. And “immediately” Jesus called them – and they left their father in the boat with the hired hands and followed Jesus.
Do we follow Jesus as readily as these first disciples? If Jesus calls us are we ready to “immediately” leave everything behind and follow? This story contrasts to a later one where Jesus calls a wealthy young man to give away his wealth and follow, and this man goes away sorrowful, rather than following. Maybe he had more to give up than the simple fishermen? I don’t know – but the point here is that these simple fishermen left everything they knew and had worked for behind to follow Jesus, and they did it immediately, without delay. Jesus called ordinary people – fishermen casting and mending their nets – and he still calls ordinary people, you and me, to do his work. And he calls us to follow, immediately.