“When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.” Luke 5:11.
Since the fishermen Jesus called were apparently busily occupied with work and family and presumably did not know Him, why were they compelled to "leave everything" and "immediately" follow Him?
Was it because Jesus surprised them with an opportunity of a lifetime?
Ordinary working-men, given the chance to join something exciting?
Before calling the disciples, Jesus had already caused a stir in Galilee,
and it is Luke of all the Gospels who expands on this:
Luke chapter 4:
“Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,
and news about him spread through the whole countryside.
He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.”
Teaching in their Synagogues – Jesus, returned “home” as a Rabbi,
an expert in Scripture.
This Rabbi was invited to teach in Nazareth – and the text? Isaiah 61.
“He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor; to proclaim freedom for prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” Jesus the Rabbi, interpreting Isaiah’s words concerning God’s vision of His people, which Jesus took as his own “mission statement.
The congregation went beserk!
According to John’s Gospel,
when Jesus the Rabbi approached his potential rabbinical students –
Andrew, whom first he came across, went to his brother Simon Peter and said
“We have found the Messiah!”
Philip went to find Nathanael, enthusing with the words
“We have found the one of whom Moses spoke, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
Jesus is called "Rabbi" in Luke's Gospel by the disciples (Luke 7:40),
by the crowds (Luke 12:13), and even by the Pharisees (Luke 19:39),
and Sadducees (Luke 20:27-28).
If a Rabbi approached a potential rabbinical student,
and said to him, "Follow me", it was a great compliment.
It meant that the Rabbi believed that the potential student
had the ability and commitment to become like him.
Those He called left everything because such a calling
was a tremendous privilege,
and there would have been others from their families
who would have gladly taken up where they left off,
in such a noble cause.
In our Gospel reading today (Luke 9:18-24),
we are privileged to join Jesus and the disciples in prayer.
For Jesus, this time of prayer raised questions,
and He needed to make sure that His Rabbinical Students,
the Disciples, were strong enough to continue on the journey ahead.
Ambiguously He asks them
“Who do the crowds say that I am?”
A clever device on his part to get them
to share their own perceptions of the One
whom they have followed up until now
So – who DO they think he is? They replied, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; or one of the ancient prophets back from the dead.’”
He asks them more directly “Who do YOU say that I am?” Peter is the only one recorded as replying: “The Messiah, the Christ.” –
affirming the message given to him in the first place
by Andrew his brother (we have found the Messiah, the Christ!”)
He directs that they tell no-one who he is.
The words that follow seem to me
that Jesus was testing their commitment.
Were they ready to take on the challenge?
Were they strong enough for what lay ahead?
Peter would have said yes, of course,
because he always wanted to be the best student that he could!
(even though we know that he faltered towards the end).
From now on, Jesus promises, it’s going to be no picnic!
“If anyone wishes to come after me,
he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Who did they really think Jesus was?
Judas was clearly disappointed in him.
James and John, the “Sons of Thunder”,
thought that Jesus would grant them status;
and Peter was sure he was the most-important student!
“You are the Messiah” – but did Peter realise what that meant?
I wonder how you and I might answer that question of Jesus’?
Who do YOU and I say Jesus is?
Who do YOU and I understand Jesus to be?
Does He make a difference to my thinking, my daily living?
To what extent is Jesus the norm of my values, my actions?
Do I make decisions with reference to Him?
Jesus asks ME today, ‘Who do you say that I am?’
Is He for me a leader, a friend, a judge, a teacher, a guardian,
Perhaps a combination of all?
I express my belief in Jesus in the way I live and act.
Jesus challenges me to offer
my thoughts, words and actions,
and to endeavour daily to be stronger in my commitment to Him.
PRAYER: Forgive me for the times I have not followed you
because it wasn’t convenient.
When I didn’t want to go out of my way
to see the needs around me.
Forgive me for trying to pacify my conscience
by giving just enough to feel good about myself
but not enough to inconvenience my lifestyle.
I want to live daily with an urgency,
to radically be the change you call me to be.
May my love for you be a driving force to live with joyful surrender.
Help me to see how I should take up my cross and follow you.
Here I am;