REsponding to Christ's Call
Responding to Christ’s Call.
“Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.”
The day started like any other day for Peter, Andrew, James, and John. For them, their livelihood was fishing on the Sea of Galilee. Like all fishermen, the day would have consisted of fixing nets, preparing the boat, and rowing out upon the water in search of the day’s catch. It was often challenging work that involved working in the hot sun during the summer and risking the harsh storms in the winter. It required them to cast their nets during the day or drag nets at night as they rowed their boats about the lake. It was a hard, strenuous job. The ancient Jewish historian Josephus states that more than 230 fishing boats were working around the Sea of Galilee. Typically, when fishing, five men would work in the boat to catch haul in the daily catch. In Luke 5:10, we find that James and John were partners with Peter and Andrew, the four of them working together to make a living for themselves and their families. Like many blue-collar jobs, their livelihood was determined by their strength and willingness to work hard.
As they started the day, they had little clue that it would bring an event that would change their lives and the course of history. Perhaps as they were preparing to go fishing that day, they were talking about the latest prices and markets for their fish; maybe they were complaining about the rule of the Roman government. They may have been discussing the rumors of a new rabbi from Nazareth. They may have been arguing about why they could not catch any fish the previous night. Amid their work and banter, suddenly, the new Rabbi who had taken up residence in the town approached them. This rabbi was from Nazareth, a man named Jesus. As Jesus approaches them, he gives them an invitation. He invites them to become his disciples. It was not uncommon for a rabbi to gather around him students who would follow him and learn from him. Education did not come in the form of a college or university; it came by invitation to become a student under a teacher, to follow him and live with him to be taught by the teacher. Jesus was inviting them to become his followers and to learn from him. But it was not just a casual invitation to go for a walk to discuss the possibilities. It was a command to become his disciple, to leave their life of fishing and become his student. Jesus asked them to leave everything behind them and follow him, even breaking their family ties (vs. 22). In this simple request, Jesus sets the requirement of those who follow him. He desires complete allegiance and unconditional obedience. This does not mean that they were to abandon their responsibility of caring for their family. Their father had hired men who could continue the family business (Mark 1:20). It meant that they were to have a new priority that superseded all other relationships. It meant that following Christ was now their life purpose.
Often in our approach to Christ, we obey him out of convenience. When God calls us to perform a task, we do so when and if it fits our schedule and plans. But God desires complete obedience. Just as Jesus called these four fishermen to follow him and become workers in Christ’s kingdom, he calls us to follow him and serve in his kingdom. We are to make our priorities and goals subservient to his priorities and purpose for our life. The Christian life is not about seeking God’s blessing for our plans but seeking God’s plan for us. It is about being engaged in his kingdom-building plan. At the start of the day, our prayer should always be, “God may you align my life and activities to your will and purpose.” When that becomes our prayer, then we are indeed disciples of Christ.