Anyone who has read the Gospel of Mark has probably noticed his use of the word immediately. The word appears thirty-six times in only sixteen chapters. The word in the original language meant “straight”, and used as an adverb simply means “straightway, immediately, or forthwith”. In other words, there was no delay or doubt as to the course of action. Why is this word important?
Consider the miracles that Mark records Jesus performed during His earthly ministry. In Mark 1:31, the fever that had afflicted the mother-in-law of Peter immediately leaves her. In 1:42, the touch of the Savior caused the leprosy of a man to immediately disappear. In chapter 2:12, a man previously paralyzed is able to instantly stand up and walk at the simple command of the Lord. These and the other recorded miracles happened as we might say “in the blink of an eye.” There was no delay or some kind of shrouded suggestion leaving the observers unsure of whether anything had actually occurred. The power Jesus possessed over sickness, over the natural world, and even over death was demonstrated without delay. Contrast how he performed his miracles with the way supposed miracle workers today operate, and you will see a marked difference.
As interesting and instructive as a study on the instantaneous nature of the miracles of Christ, I instead want to focus on the actions taken immediately by two sets of brothers in Mark 1. Verses 16-20 read this way: “And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ They immediately left their nets and followed Him. When He had gone a little farther from there, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets. And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after Him.”
Did you see our word? Twice we read how these two sets of brothers decided to follow Jesus. Did they deliberate for a season? Did they conduct a feasibility study? Did they write down the pros and cons of making one choice over the other? No, they immediately without delay or hesitation followed the Lord. Would you have made the same choice? Would I? Would we have taken more time to weigh our options or consult the input of others? I hope I would have made the same decision at the same speed as these men did. It may be that they were aided by the miracle of catching the great haul of fish as recorded in Luke 5:1-11. Whether the passage in Luke elaborates on what Mark records in his concise words is subject to debate, and different interpreters hold differing views. Regardless, these men must have understood who Jesus was and knew following Him without delay was the only choice they could make in light of their understanding.
Edersheim provides this excellent summation of the choice made by these four: “All the deeper, then, must have been their loving belief in Him, and their earnest attachment, when, with such uncompromising trust, and such absolute simplicity and entireness of self-surrender, that it needed not even a spoken Yea on their part, they forsook ship and home to follow Him.” (The Life and Times of Jesus The Messiah pg. 475) I like how he highlights their faith and trust, and how this pairs with their “self-surrender.” After all, Jesus later gave this instruction: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” [Luke 9:23] Deny self or self-surrender must be done, and upon understanding that one is a sinner and Jesus is the Savior, this should be done immediately.
Acts 22:16 records the importance of immediate action impressed upon Saul by Ananias: “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Saul did not need to delay his obedience to the Gospel, and neither do you. Will you forsake all to follow Jesus? Will you do it immediately? Do not put it off, tomorrow may be too late!