Back in 1973 my dear father, Dr. O. Talmadge Spence (who went to be with the Lord in July 2000), began a publication entitled Straightway. He took this word from Mark 1:18 that reads, “And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.” In this context Mark’s commentary on two of the Lord’s disciples depicts the tonal quality of his book as a part of the harmonious quartet of the Gospels. Mark’s Gospel portrays Christ as “the Mighty Worker,” rather than “the Teacher” as depicted in the book of Matthew. Mark wrote his Gospel to the Romans, a busy people, always in a hurry, working for the cause of the Empire. Through the Holy Spirit, Mark wrote with this theme, the activity of Christ, the “Servant of Jehovah.” The characteristic word of Mark in the Greek language is euthus, translated “anon,” “forthwith,” “immediately,” and “straightway.” He uses the term 42 times in his Gospel. Notice verses 10, 12, 18, 20, 21, 28, 29, 30, 31, 42, 43 in the first chapter of his book. All of these verses show the busy activity of the book.
In the reality of biblical truth, Mark 1:18 is the commentary of every genuine servant of the Lord. When the Christian views the depraved gallery of philosophies, the hopeless and dark oceans of life, it encourages him to abide in the absolute truth of God. The sinner has no hope in his invented nets out in the world. He tries endlessly through his birth-blemished vocation of sin (“we have turned everyone to his own way”) to reap something better than that which he has sown. The daily, senseless cycle of going out with nets made of filthy rags and coming back with an empty soul has no hope for eternity. What a fruitless life to live!
But thank God! One day while we were trying to mend our feeble nets, Christ came and extended the call, “Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). While we were in our pollution, while we were “in” sin, He passed by and said, “Live.” “And straightway,” immediately, instantaneously, the Lord saved our convicted, repentant soul. It took place in a moment! Thank God for the experience of the New Birth!
But this small, truth-laden verse, has more to say of the two disciples: “. . . they forsook their nets.” That is the purpose for salvation! Not only to save us “in” sin, but also to save us “from” sin. We are to “forsake the nets,” to lay aside “every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us” (Heb. 12:1), and to “come out from among them” (2 Cor. 6:17). That is the only way we can unreservedly follow Christ: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” We make our “exodus” during our straightway conversion, and Egypt is to be left behind, forsaken, denied, and forgotten. We all have been bought with a price, redeemed, and we are no longer our own; we have been made a servant, a laborer, a worker full time in the Kingdom of God.
You will notice in Luke 5 that for some reason Peter went back to fishing. He had forsaken the nets and ships once, but he had not fully sold out to the Lord. The net business had taken over in his life again. Christ had to come for him again and once more in Luke 5:11: “ . . they forsook all, and followed him.” Peter stayed with Christ until the cross. But again in John 21, we find Peter back in the fishing business. It is the forsaking that seems to be his problem. Oh, the sad portrait of so many servants who have been called by God. Take heed to the example, my friend. Forsake all, and continue forsaking all for Christ. Leave the nets, and do not return!
May God bless, keep, and preserve our lives until His Coming or until He calls for us through death. May we STRAIGHTWAY forsake this world and what it will have to offer; forsake all for His glory! Then may we STRAIGHTWAY follow our Savior throughout all the days of our lives.