The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry

Posted by Thaddaeus

Mark 1: 14-20


After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent, and believe in the gospel."  As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen.  Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."  Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.  He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.  They too were in a boat mending their nets.  Then he called them.  So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.


Background:  The arrest of John the Baptist marks the beginning of Jesus’ Galilean ministry.  It is called the time of fulfillment: of God’s promises to establish the kingdom of God.  Jesus departs for Galilee to preach in the region of Zebulun and Naphtili.  This region is the first part of the former Northern Kingdom of Israel conquered by the Assyrians.  His coming represents the beginning of the restoration of Israel, or the “in-gathering of nations.”  In this passage, Jesus calls the first four disciples.  In the synoptic gospels, the Twelve are always listed as three groups of four.  These four are the closest to Jesus.  Peter, James and John are the inner three.  For example, Andrew is not present with them for the Transfiguration.  Simon, James and John are renamed by Jesus as the Rock and Sons of Thunder, respectively.  In the Old Testament, name changes symbolize a new calling, status, office, authority, or mission.


The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry:  It seems odd that Andrew takes a background role.  Admittedly, Simon is a sinful man.  Andrew is a man of faith and hope.  He is a follower of John the Baptist.  When Andrew hears John proclaim Jesus as the Lamb of God, he is the first disciple to follow Jesus.  He brings the others to Jesus.  In fact, he is the first to recognize and proclaim Jesus as the Messiah; so, why is Andrew set apart from the inner circle?  Because his mission will be to the Greek speaking followers of Jesus.  At the time of Jesus, the region of Galilee is a mixed culture of Jews and Greek speaking Gentiles.  Andrew is Jewish, but his name is of Greek origin.  Jesus has no need to change his name because his given name serves as a bridge between Jewish and Greek followers of Jesus.  He founded the Church of Byzantium.  The Greek Orthodox liturgy gives him the name Protokletos -- “the first called.”