Summary: From the very beginning of his ministry, Jesus focused on the outsiders and called everyday people to be his disciples.
Matthew 4:12-23 “Setting a Pattern”
Several of us have found it necessary, during the past year or so, to look for a job. We’ve honed our resume, and been coached on our interview techniques. We have flooded the internet with notice of our availability, we have networked, and we have sat near the phone waiting for it to ring. Thankfully job offers have come to some, and prayerfully doors for employment will soon open for others.
Imagine how different it would be if we didn’t need to sell ourselves to companies, but rather companies would come to us and ask us to work for them—with a great salary and full benefits. Why, it would almost be like heaven!
One of the truths that we celebrate today is that in our relationship with Jesus this is exactly what happens. Jesus comes to us.
During the time of Jesus, children would begin their religious education at the tender age of three. They would first learn the Torah, then the Talmud, and finally the MIshna. By the time they were in their early teens, they had a solid religious foundation. After this long period of religious education, men could continue their learning by becoming a disciples—learner—of a rabbi. Prospective students would approach various rabbis and ask to learn from them. If the rabbi agreed, they’d follow and learn. If the rabbi said, “No,” the student would then approach a different rabbi. The process was very similar to the college application process.
Jesus, though, didn’t work that way. He didn’t wait for men to come to him. He went out and selected certainly people to be his disciples. This is what we see taking place in today’s text. Jesus goes to Andrew and Peter, James and John, and calls them to follow him. Jesus fished for disciples like the fishermen of his day caught fish.
Fishermen, at the time of Jesus, didn’t use a hook and line, but rather a net. They would throw the net into the water and then draw the net and fish into the boat. Jesus threw his net, caught his new disciples and drew them to him.
Christians have argued through the millennia over whether they found Jesus or Jesus found them; whether they decided to follow Jesus or Jesus decided to be their Lord and Savior. As Lutherans we stress the fact that Jesus chose us. Martin Luther wrote, “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength come to the Lord Jesus or believe in him, but the Holy Spirit calls me …”
Some people don’t like the idea that they were netted and drawn into Jesus’ boat—the church. One thing that we can say is that Jesus used people and situations to draw us close to him and to bring us to the point where we decided say “Yes,” to his invitation to be his disciples.
A HOLY VOCATION
When we read that the disciples left their nets and followed Jesus, we often visualize them as never returning to their homes. We see them going on a three year camping trip with Jesus. This is probably not true. A more likely scenario was that the disciples traveled with Jesus, but frequently returned home. As they traveled the Galilean countryside, they were never more than a day’s journey from their homes.
Being disciples of Jesus, though, impacted their lives and how they went about their vocations. They turned from fishermen who followed Jesus, into disciples of Jesus who fished. This is an important nuance. We can’t imagine what they saw and did with Jesus not affecting their lives back home. Certainly they shared with others what they had seen and heard. Jesus’ teachings about love and forgiveness probably started to transform their lives also.
Being a disciple of Jesus is a life changing experience. Over my years of ministry, several people have ministered to me and challenged me with the depth of their Christian discipleship.
• Emma was a wife and mother—she was also a prayer warrior. She prayed. She prayed long and hard. She moved mountains with her prayers and lives were transformed because of her prayers. Emma taught me a lot about prayer
• Lois was a behind the scenes servant. She never wanted the lime light, but things didn’t happen without her. If I ever wanted anything done, all I’d need to do was to call Lois. She served her family as she served the church, too. All was a part of her mission and her discipleship with Christ.
• Sue was a teacher whose mission field was her classroom. She didn’t cross over the division line between church and state, but those in her class experienced her love and devotion to them. She used her educational skills to build up a strong, effective Sunday school program. She also used her musical skills to strengthen the contemporary worship team and direct a children’s choir.