Mark’s Gospel provides a unique perspective on discipleship. Jesus’s call, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:17), was more than an invitation to follow him physically. In fact, it was an invitation to a new way of life, and one focused on serving God and others.
Jesus’ followers are called to a life of discipleship characterised by learning, service, sacrifice, and faith. Here are five key aspects of discipleship in Mark.
1. Call to Follow
Jesus calls people to follow him as disciples. In Mark 1:16-20, Jesus calls Simon (Peter), Andrew, James, and John to leave their fishing nets and follow him. Similarly, in Mark 2:13-17, Jesus calls Levi (Matthew) to follow him. Jesus’ call is a powerful invitation to leave behind the old way of life and embrace a new life in Jesus’ kingdom.
Interestingly, it is also a call to action. Jesus invites his disciples to join him in his mission to bring the good news of the kingdom. Those who answer Jesus’ call are given a unique role to play in his mission.
2. Learning and Growth
Discipleship involves learning from and growing in relationship with Jesus. One critical passage that highlights this aspect of discipleship is Mark 3:13-19. Jesus appoints twelve men to be his closest disciples. He called them to be with him, to learn from him, and to be sent out to proclaim the good news.
Throughout the Gospel of Mark, we see the disciples learning and growing in their relationship with Jesus. They ask questions, make mistakes, and sometimes struggle to understand his teachings.
But they become more mature and more committed to Jesus and his mission over time. The disciples were not perfect, but they were willing to follow Jesus and learn from him every step of the way.
3. Obedience and Sacrifice:
Discipleship involves obedience and sacrifice. In Mark 8:34-38, Jesus tells his disciples to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him. This self-denial requires them to put Jesus’ priorities above their own and be willing to suffer for him.
The phrase “take up your cross” is particularly important in this passage. In Jesus’ time, the cross symbolised shame and suffering. The Romans used the cross to execute criminals. For Jesus’ disciples, taking up their cross meant being willing to suffer for him and the Gospel’s sake.
Obedience and sacrifice are essential aspects of discipleship in the Gospel of Mark. Disciples are called to follow Jesus, obey him, make sacrifices for him, and be willing to suffer if necessary.
4. Service and Mission
Discipleship involves serving others and participating in Jesus’ mission. In Mark 10:42-45, Jesus teaches that the greatest among his disciples are those who serve others, just as he came to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.
This passage is significant because it shows that discipleship involves more than just following Jesus; it also involves serving others and participating in Jesus’ mission. Jesus’ life and ministry were characterised by service and sacrifice. He calls his disciples to follow his example.
In addition to serving in God’s mission, discipleship also involves helping others in everyday life. In Mark 9:33-37, Jesus teaches his disciples about the importance of humility and service. Discipleship involves radical acts of mission and daily acts of kindness and humility.
5. Faith and Trust
Discipleship involves faith and trust in Jesus. In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus demonstrates his power over nature by calming a storm that threatens to capsize the boat.
However, his disciples react with fear and doubt, questioning whether Jesus cares about their safety. Jesus calms the storm and rebukes his disciples for their lack of faith. He teaches them to trust in him even amid fear and uncertainty.
Mark 4: 35 – 41 highlights the importance of faith and trust in discipleship. It shows that following Jesus requires a willingness to surrender control and trust in his power and goodness, even when things seem chaotic or out of our control.
Trusting in Jesus means relying on him for guidance, provision, and protection, even when we don’t fully understand his ways.
Throughout the Gospel of Mark, Jesus models what it means to be a disciple through his teaching, actions, and interactions with his followers. Discipleship involves a commitment to follow Jesus, learn from him, obey him, serve others, and trust in him. How do we respond to the call to discipleship?
This is part 1 of the series "Discipleship". You may also like to read: Following Jesus In The Digital Age
Join the 40-day challenge. Read our Lenten articles every day for the next 40 days!