Sunday, February 12, 2006

Pete and Andy meet the Man

It was a pleasant, sunny afternoon much like many others in this small fishing village. There was a cool breeze coming off the waters of the Sea of Galilee, and as most days, the fishing was pretty decent. At least the catch today was turning out to be sufficient to bring a day’s wages at the market. Two men were in the water, stripped to the waist, enjoying the sun, casting their nets, and discussing their day. So it was for Pete and Andy, brothers, who had a thriving business, “Bethsaida Brothers Fishery,” which they operated for years. The fishing business had been good to them and their families, and they were known and respected. Fishing was all they knew, and they loved it.

This afternoon, though, was about to bring some big changes for the strong brothers. As they worked the nets and talked, they watched as a rather peculiar figure approached on the beach. The man paused on the beach, watching them intently. Pete and Andy wondered who this might be, for there weren’t many strangers that came down to the ocean to watch the fishing. But there was something about this stranger, something magnetic; something drawing… there was an intensity in his gaze that neither had ever experienced before. ”Andy, that’s Jesus, the Messiah,” whispered Pete. They paused…

And just like that, he spoke. “Come with me, and I’ll make you fishers of men.” Without hesitation, and for reasons neither of them could immediately explain, they dropped their nets– along with their livelihood and everything they loved and were familiar with – into the water, and followed this strange but comforting man. Pete looked into his brother’s eyes, but neither said a word, they just followed with awe and excitement.

They walked a little further down the beach and soon came to where two other brothers, Jimmy and John, who were working for their dad who ran “Zeb’s Fresh Fish Market.” They were in their boat, fixing their nets after a good day’s catch, and they too, had been watching as the three approached. As soon as they got there, Jesus called to them, and immediately the two brothers jumped from the boat, leaving their father with the hired hands, and they followed Him.

From the account in the Gospel According to Mark, chapter 1

These two sets of brothers had ordinary occupations – secular jobs which, no doubt, kept their families fed and maybe kept a few others employed. They were not scholars, seminary graduates, or professional ministers. I imagine they were brought up fishing for a living, and worked hard at it.

And just like that, they left all that was familiar and comfortable to them to follow Jesus. Now, Jesus was no stranger. According to John’s account in John 1:35-42, they had met Him maybe about a year before, right after His baptism by John.  Jesus had even spoken to Peter, called Simon, and prophesied to him, calling him Cephas, which means “A Stone.”

The idea of leaving one’s occupation to follow Jesus must have taken a huge leap of faith. I can’t imagine what it took for these men to drop what they were doing, leaving behind their tools of the trade, their families, and their hired hands. Surely they had something to lose. Surely they must have had some fear….but they just left to follow Him. Just like that.

What would it take for me to do the same? Honestly, I don’t know. It was a leap of faith for me to just recently change jobs, and it was even in the same field.  God must have been working on changing their hearts for a while. I’m sure their identity and all that they could relate to was tied up in their business. When God calls us into a different place, He prepares us for the change. He gives us the boldness and the ability to make the decision, and then gives us everything we need to fulfill His vision.

Our responsibility is not only to hear His call, but to commit to follow Him, no matter what. And the step of faith we decide to take is merely a step. He provides the strength, we provide the will. He gives us what we need, we give our faith. God doesn’t force us to do what we don’t want to do, He merely asks for our obedience. In turn, He takes us to where we’ve never been.

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