Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who with the Holy Spirit are three-in-one
Last week, we got to meet a couple of those fortunate men whom Jesus called to be His disciples. Today the story continues with more men answering the call of Christ. Just like last week, we see the commitment of men who willingly left everything to follow the Messiah.
We look at these examples of Christian loyalty and we wonder.. would we have done the same? Would we have left the comfort of our existing life to physically follow Christ into a world of the unknown? Would our reactions to this man from Nazareth have been the same? Would we have accepted His invitation to, as Philip told Nathanael in the Gospel of Mark, come and see? It’s a question many of us have asked ourselves.
In today’s Gospel lesson, Jesus continues His preparation for public ministry by adding to the list of those who would learn from Him and eventually carry His message to the world. His encounter takes place in Galilee along the seashore, watching fishermen preparing their nets. Just like he still does today, Jesus is calling those He has chosen to follow Him by offering the familiar proposal to become fishers of men. He is calling simple fishermen to accept His invitation into unfamiliar territory. This is the day their whole world would change.
This section of Scripture is very striking in that it presents us with a sense of urgency unlike any other part of Scripture. It starts out by describing Simon and Andrew throwing their nets as fishermen do. This was how they made their living. This is how they fed their family. This is what they are good at. It’s probably all they’ve done their whole lives.
Yet something unthinkable happens at Christ’s simple command to follow Him. They give up all they know without hesitation and follow. No longer would they spend all their time fishing to feed their families, now they would fish for men so that the world might be fed with the Word of God.
Matthew tells us that, “Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.” No hesitancy, no questions, no requests, just eager obedience. Then He goes further and sees James and John mending nets and He gives them the same opportunity, “Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him.” No indecision, no reluctance, no unwillingness, just instant devotion. They sensed the urgency in the Messiah’s calling, and they did the only thing their soul would let them do, they followed.
Can you feel the faith, the conviction of these men who would leave everything for the unknown? It’s almost unthinkable.
We think to ourselves, no normal person would do such a thing as to leave their livelihood for something so unfamiliar. Most would scratch their heads, discuss the pros and cons, seek advice from their friends and families, but they didn’t do and of this. They simply left all they knew and went.
We think of this as something that only happened then, but we are very mistaken because since that time, the urgent call to follow Christ has never waned. Still today Jesus Christ continues to call the faithful into service. Still today the Messiah calls His people to take the Word of God to those who wait for someone to come. And to those He calls He asks to follow without having to think about it or weigh the pros and cons or talk it over with friends and family or wait for something better to come along. He calls you and expects from you the same willingness and dedication He got from those He called to be His disciples. And still today, people follow Him into the unknown, simply out of faith.
Even with this call to service that we know is placed on our hearts, we act as if we have all the time in the world to make a decision. The world creeps in so much that the urgent call becomes a whisper, drowned out by the clamor of society. We don’t have time for Jesus to take over. We are much too busy casting our nets hoping something more interesting and less demanding will land in them. Don’t bother me Jesus, I go to church, I pay my tithes, I even give to charities, isn’t that enough?
There were a group of people standing by a very large and ornate cathedral in Europe and they were admiring the very fine craftsmanship, the detail work, the care and love that had to go into every nook and cranny of the building built to worship God. One of the men turned to another in the group and said, “Why don’t we build so beautifully today? Why can’t we build with such pride, with such incredible craftsmanship, and the other man replied, “They had convictions; we have opinions.
This is so true. Where are the convictions, the integrity that the church once had for Christ? It’s missing today amongst the rubble. Today you’re more likely to see someone serving Christ only when it’s convenient or when they feel just right. If there is nothing better to do, then we’ll make time to follow the calling. If it becomes socially acceptable again then I’ll speak up for my faith but until then I’m going to act the part of the little church mouse.
When Jesus encounters us He doesn’t want our opinions or our excuses, he wants our commitment born of faith. He doesn’t want to hear from us only when we want something from Him, He wants us to walk alongside Him and listen to what He has for us to learn. He doesn’t want you to proclaim yourself as Christians only when it’s safe, He expects you to be proud of who you are in Him every moment. Jesus didn’t die for us so that we could become what we have become, He died for us so that we would have the amazing opportunity to follow Him all the way to heaven.
Every time Jesus calls us, it’s with the same sense of urgency that He called His first disciples. When He calls us he expects that same commitment from us that He got from those who left everything they knew and followed Him. He wants to turn your whole life around to a life that counts on Him for everything and on the world for nothing. He wants to make us all fishers of men because so many in life are floundering about, grasping for air in a suffocating world.
Because those He called were fishermen, they knew what He was asking. They knew that, from now on, instead of fishing for Tilapia or Biny fish, they would be casting their nets for Christ to catch mankind. They would catch others by offering them the repentance only found in Christ. They would catch them by sharing a Godly love that is greater than any earthly love. They would catch them by sharing the Good News of salvation offered to all who believe.
When the disciples were called, they didn’t ask questions, they simply followed. What awaited them were joys and sorrows in epic scale. They faced terrible hardship and, at the same time, they were soaked in the blessings. It was a roller-coaster ride that they would never forget, but, in the end, they emerged glorified, saved by this man who would prove to them to be God Himself.
We see the first disciples and we consider them highly favored and in many ways they were. But Jesus Christ has many blessings in store for you too, should you answer the call to follow Him. He doesn’t promise the road will be easy. If anything, He promises just the opposite. He doesn’t tell you that your joys will abound and that your sorrow will cease, He just asks that you walk in His shoes the best that you can. He promises to reward those who put their faith and trust in Him, thereby showing the world the light of Christ in their actions.
He also calls us as a church to do the same and to realize that the goals He has set for us will take all of us working together to make it happen. If you seem comfortable in your faith then I caution you to do more because with comfort comes complacency. It truly takes a village.
And what is the reward for all our effort? Only the greatest reward possible. Christ died and rose again so that all who believe might one day become residents of Heaven with Him. He wishes all people to have what you have been given. We look forward to a time when there is no more war or pain or suffering, but many can’t because they have not yet believed. That’s where you come in.
The disciples heard the call, “Follow me,” and they left everything. Now it’s your turn to hear the call. Jesus says to you, “Follow me, come see what is in store for you. Trust in me to take you to places you have never dreamed of. Let me make you fishers of men. Amen