In what ways does Jesus call you?
Today, we consider several ways that people respond to the call to follow Jesus.
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and
Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to
them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets
and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him (Matthew 4:18-22).
God’s mission of transforming the world through Jesus Christ first requires a
transformation of the world of his disciples. Becoming a faithful follower of Jesus
requires us to re-order our priorities and relationships.
• In the Gospel of Matthew (as in Mark also) these first disciples “immediately”
drop their nets and walk away from their jobs in response to the call to follow
Jesus. No questions asked!
• Jesus calls them to leave behind their families and job security to become his
disciples. This call is dramatic, challenging, and risky!
Ched Myers, a Christian theologian who has chosen to bring his skills in biblical
interpretation to bear on concrete issues of social justice and social change
characterizes Christian discipleship this way:
“The call of Jesus . . . is absolute, disrupting the lives of potential recruits, promising
them only a ‘school’ from which there is no graduation. The…call to discipleship
in Mark is an urgent, uncompromising invitation to ‘break with business as
usual.’ The world is coming to an end, for those who chose to follow. The
kingdom has dawned, and it is identified with the discipleship adventure.”1
Questions for reflection
• Has Jesus ever called you to do something specific, such that you dropped
everything you were doing to follow him “immediately”? What was the result?
• Were there things you did earlier (like prayer) that prepared you to respond
• In what ways might you need to “break with business as usual” (Ched Myers) in
order to enter and persevere in this lifelong process of learning a way of life from
Jesus as a participant in God’s mission?
Sometimes, though, we are not prepared to respond so quickly to the call of Jesus.
The author of the Gospel of Luke presents the call to the first disciples differently.
This kind of call requires a little less risk, if we have eyes to see and ears to hear . . .
Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret . . . he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break . . . But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”
For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken;
and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then
Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When
they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him (Luke
Luke establishes a basis and motivation for the disciples to follow Jesus.
• Simon follows the instructions given by Jesus (to go out into deep water and let
down the nets again) only after hearing Jesus teach the people from Simon’s boat.
• Apparently, the power and authority of Jesus’ teaching to the people encouraged
Simon to forget his failure from the night before and to trust Jesus’ instructions.
• Jesus then provides further evidence of the effectiveness and fruitfulness of his
teaching and instructions: the haul of fish is almost more than they can contain!
These two passages from Matthew and Luke depict different ways we respond to
the call of Jesus at different times in our own lives.
• There are times when, like the story of the disciples in the Gospel of Matthew, we
are prepared to hear the call of Jesus and respond immediately.
• At other times we are more like the disciples characterized in the Gospel of Luke:
we need first to hear the power and authority of Jesus’ teaching, and see its
fruitfulness borne out in the world, before we say “yes” to the call to follow Jesus
in particular ways.
Questions for reflection
• Has the teaching of someone ever resonated with you to such an extent that you
were willing to follow that teacher’s instructions, no matter what?
• What evidence have you seen in your life that following the direction of Jesus
does bear fruit? Does this give you courage and confidence to follow the next call
you receive from Jesus?
Lord Christ, you call your followers to break with business as usual in order to
follow you: strengthen and encourage us to respond to your call wholeheartedly by
turning away from the things that distract us and toward those things that will bring
us new life; grant us eyes to see and ears to hear your power at work, that we may
have the courage to follow Christ faithfully in every way. Amen.
1 Ched Myers, Binding the Strong Man, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. Although Myers’ quote addresses the Gospel of Mark, the same holds true for discipleship in the Gospel of Matthew.