An Unsettled Life
Jesus Calls His First Disciples
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the waters edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
Simon answered, “ Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man! For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.”
Then Jesus said to Simon, “ Don t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Have you ever thought much about Jesus’ disciples? There are twelve of them, as we know. We really don t know much about them.
We do know that Peter was first among equals. Peter and his brother Andrew were fishermen as were James & his brother, John. Matthew was an officer with the first century IRS. That s it, a scant bit of biographical information about five of them; nothing about the other seven.
We know that Jesus called them to a new life with Him, and in so doing they abandoned their old lives for a new life
I have to guess that in following Jesus they left behind wives and children and their homes in Galilee
I can hear the conversations now from Peter’s s wife to Peter.
You are doing WHAT?
You are going WHERE?
Who is this guy anyway?
How are we supposed to pay the rent?
What about the kids? What about me?
All the disciples had to walk away from something, but not because it was a prerequisite for becoming a disciple. It was more like a consequence. He called, they followed, and certain things got left behind. Got left behind, not because it was bad, but because it was in the way. Not because they had to, but because they wanted to. He called, and nothing else seemed that important anymore.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, in one of his essays says that “people wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.”
That’s what this story in Luke is all about. It s what discipleship is all about. We want to be settled; safe, secure. But Jesus calls us to a life that is unpredictable and a future that is uncertain. It is a life of severe grace. It is a life of giving up some things important to us to find other things even more important.
Each of us can look back upon our lives and remember times when we came to an important crossroad. Should we go right or left? Should we forge ahead or stay behind? Sometimes after a lot of thought and prayer it’s clear what we should do. But sometimes not.
Barbara and I are at a crossroads in our lives. I wish I could tell you that I have been absolutely certain about what we should do. But down deep that’s not so.
I do know that I’m giving up a lot: hiking the Sonoran desert with my best friends. Giving up glorious Arizona. Giving up our beloved church.
On most days I think I hear the voice of Jesus beckoning me to head east. If I find I have mis-heard I’ll loop back in a few months and apply for the job as your permanent pastor.
The best part of Jesus’ call to us at any of standing at life’s crossroads is that he invites us to be on the road with him. And on that road we will find our truest destiny, our purest bliss, our deepest life.
At the end of his monumental book, QUEST FOR THE HISTORICAL JESUS, Albert Schweitzer writes about Jesus’ call to those first disciples and to us today.
“He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside, He came to those men who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same words: “Follow thou me!” and sets us to the tasks which He has to fulfill for our time. He commands. And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in His fellowship, and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience Who He is.”