As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. Mark 1:14-20
Theologians sometimes comment that Mark’s Gospel is written to answer two key questions: ‘Who is Jesus?’ and ‘What are Jesus’ disciples meant to be like?’.
The gospel reading for this week is the beginning of an answer to the second question: anyone can be a disciple – amazing gifts or education are not requirements for eligibility. What matters is availability and a willingness to follow where Jesus leads. Discipleship also involves a change in our values until they align to the values of Jesus.
A Christian is a person who has a personal relationship with Jesus. The invitation to Peter, Andrew, James and John is an invitation into such a relationship. “Follow me”: be with me, get to know me, enjoy my friendship. But also, share my mission. “I will make you fish for people”: you will teach and preach, heal and serve, as I do. What a responsibility! But also, what a privilege!
Jesus invites each of us and other fellow Christians to be with him as his companions and to share in his work. Why do we find this so daunting? I believe one reason is a sense of our limitations and consequent feeling of insignificance. We doubt our capacity to fulfill this.
A second reason is how exalted Jesus is as Son of God, even though the same Jesus walked our earth. We are in awe of Jesus and dare I say almost become paralysed because we feel that we are nothing compared to Him. This takes us back to the first reason and feeling of inadequacy to measure up to self-imposed expectations that we have of someone who takes on this partnering with Jesus.
When it comes to recruitment of staff we have all engaged in this either as candidates and/or as one involved in the selection process:
- we examine CVs which list the qualifications and experience of candidates and we read through written statements addressing selection criteria for the position
- usual practice would be to then interview candidates to determine their suitability or fit for the position
- sometimes it might be that this process is outsourced to expert recruiters to do this on our behalf
- there might even be psychometric testing to ascertain thinking and behavioural patterns of candidates to determine the best fit for the role.
Jesus by contrast moves along the lakeshore, meets dozens of fishermen, and finally picks Simon, Andrew, James and John. He calls them to a global mission. They have no relevant experience and no training for the job. They are ordinary workers, good men. Their CV would be basic, ‘I grew up here. I fish.’
Jesus’ call is simple: “Follow me”.
Jesus begins his ministry by calling a group to follow him. He gives his disciples a mission – to catch people for the kingdom of God. He chooses as his companions very ordinary people, people with no wealth or position. What is striking is that they have no certainties, little knowledge of him and yet they risk all for him.
Lord, you called the disciples to follow you and share in your mission. Their response was radical and immediate.
Lord you continue to call ordinary people like me to follow you. May nothing hinder me from generously responding to your daily call to follow you. In all my human interactions may I bring your good news to others.
Lord, as we commence a new year and start each day, help us to recognize you above all else. Enlighten the eyes of our heart that we might see you and notice how you’re at work through our lives. Give us wisdom to make the best choices, fill us with a desire to seek after you more than anything else in this world. Let your Spirit and power breathe in us, through us, again, fresh and new. Thank you that you are greater than anything we may face in the year ahead. Thank you that your presence goes with us, and that your joy is never dependent on our circumstances, but it is our true and lasting strength, no matter what we’re up against. We ask that your peace lead us, that it would guard our hearts and minds in you.
Gracious and loving Father we pray for past Endeavour College principal, Mike Leske’s family, wife Fran, children Steve and Claire and extended family as they mourn his passing. We also pray for the Yirara community that grieve the loss of a staff member earlier this month. Heavenly Father we commend to you others who are experiencing grief and trauma in their lives. Uphold and strengthen them through the valley that they travel at this time.
We pray all these things in your Holy and precious name. Amen