Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to proclaim, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." 18 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. 19 And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people." 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 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. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
Jesus invites four fishermen from the Sea of Galilee to join him as his students. These are fishers who would have caught fish to trade, to pay their taxes and to eat. James and John are sons of Zebedee, a net fisher who not only had his sons working for him but also hired men to assist him in his boat (Mark 1: 19-20). The other two are lower in the economic scale, resorting to a cast net to catch fish from the shore.
While it was expected that a Jewish rabbi would have students, it was entirely unexpected that a rabbi would call such people. Jewish rabbinical teaching required the best and brightest “school leavers”, students who were capable of the intricate theological discussions that this religious tradition demanded. Jesus turned this on its head by suggesting that the only qualification required was a willing heart. This seems to be the consistent threat of the history of our Christian faith: God has called a surprising array of people drawn from a variety of backgrounds. The only qualification needed is the desire to follow. It would seem that for those who are Jesus-followers, the one question that returns again and again is whether we continue to be willing to “leave the boat and their father and follow”.
Pause for a moment and ask yourself if there is anything that is distracting you from wholeheartedly following the call, teachings and example of Jesus.
Prayer: O God: you call me to life each morning. May I use this day in a way that honours that call. And when I give my life back to you tonight, may I do so in the knowledge that I was faithful to your call. Amen
Second Sunday after Epiphany
8. “Come follow me”
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 59.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.