Summary: Addresses the Church and its failing acceptance of all
I"I did not come to invite the pious but the irreligious" Matthew 9:13
It was 8:15 on a March morning.
Jo Betts unlocked the door of his fish shop.
The sign over the door read:
BETTS AND SON
Quality Seafoods, Wholesale-Retail
Serving Washington for Forty Years
Jo pushed open the door, which squeaked a little, strode in and methodically hung his coat on a peg in the back room.
The place smelled of fish and brine.
Jo took a deep breath, whiffing it.
He had grown to like the smell.
It made him feel at home.
He had inherited the business from his father, who was dead now. Betts and Sons had almost gone under in the 2005 recession-but not quite. They had been one the businesses down on 7th Street, S.E., to survive and now business was thriving.
Later that morning, when business was in full swing, Jo suddenly looked up to see a strange man standing in the doorway. He wore a quite ordinary-looking, blue business suit. But somehow, there was nothing ordinary about the man himself.
It was his eyes Jo noticed especially.
The fish merchant was no poet, but there was something luminous...
yes, that was it-luminous-
and compelling about them.
Jo almost forgot for a moment where he was, what he was doing.
Then he recovered himself...
"What can I do for you, sir"
The stranger smile...and beckoned...
"Jo-come with me
I’ve been searching for you.
I have an important job for you to do.
No one else can do it"
Jo blinked and swallowed hard.
Surely he hadn’t heard right!
He’d never seen this man before in his life.
How could he know his name?
Was the stranger insane?
Jo had been in the process of opening a barrel of cod.
Deliberately he laid down the tool in his hand and almost as if mesmerized without a word of explanation to his employees, he just walked out the door and along the street with the stranger.
Jo Betts had never been a religious man...
He had paid no particular attention to churches.
But that is a story of how he became a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ and, in after years, one of the greatest forces for righteousness in the nation’s capital.
Now this story undoubtedly seems very strange to you.
There’s something about it that doesn’t quite make sense.
Would any man in his right mind walk away with a perfect stranger like that?
But don’t you see what I’ve done?
I have simply used a little "sanctified imagination" to translate most of the details of the story of the calling of Peter and Andrew, as told by the fourth chapter of Matthew, into a modern setting.
Does that help you to see what an audacious
thing it was that those fishermen did in forsaking everything to obey
Christ imperious summons?
Don’t you see that it must have seemed just as crazy to their contemporaries
to some of their friends and relatives
as it seems to you in the story of Jo Betts?
I have often wondered-if I had been there-
if I had been in their shoes
would I have had the courage to do what they did?
Men found it hard to ignore Jesus of Nazareth.
There was something commanding about Him,
The New Testament says that He "spoke with authority."
As with any man with a magnetic and compelling personality, men
reacted to Him almost violently.
Either they loved Him devotedly
or hated Him cruelly.
They found it difficult to be neutral.
There were, however, a few individuals who could never quite make
up their minds to take the plunge...
to become followers of Jesus.
He demanded so much.
He asked such unequivocal allegiance.
"He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me..." Matthew 10:12
"No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money" Luke 16:13
"Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father" Matthew 7:21
It is of the men who never really became disciples of Jesus-
those borderline Christians
those "commuters into religion"-
that I want to speak.
How did Jesus affect those men?
There was Nicodemus.
Do you think Nicodemus ever forgot the night when he laid aside his
work for the Sanhedrin, turned down the lamp, and went out under the
stars to ask questions of the Galilean?
Every time the wind moaned or tugged at his robes, he would remember that musical voice:
"The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:8