The calling of the disciples is one of the craziest stories in the life of Jesus. Sure, there are more remarkable ones. There’s spectacular miracles, and demonic deliveries. Sure, he walks on water, and turns water into wine. But the calling of the disciples is still right up because of the crazy choice the disciples made. This choice shows us 3 truths about following Jesus today and what it means to be on mission with him.
I mean, picture the scene. The fishing boats are up on the beach. Peter, Andrew, James and John are there cleaning the nets after a long night fishing. Jesus, up for an early morning stroll by the water sees them and says, “Come and follow me. I’ll teach you how to fish for people.” I don’t know if they look up puzzled, but they drop their nets and go after this man.
What on earth just happened? They followed him? They left their jobs on the spot and followed him? Now, this isn’t going to look on their resume. Oh, and don’t even bother asking for a reference. And can you just imagine the conversation at dinner tonight?
And what did they leave for? Jesus never really said – just that would fish for people. What does that mean? Well, I guess, it must be more significant. I mean, people are more valuable than fish.
So, what did the disciples learn from Jesus about people? And what can it teach us today?
The disciples crazy decision to follow Jesus to fish for people shows 3 truths about following Jesus today and what it means to be on mission with him.
1. Following Jesus Means Catching His Vision
The disciples knew how to catch fish. They knew the Sea of Galilee inside out. They fished at night, so they could read the conditions, how their nets were acting, etc. Fishing was not only what they were familiar with, it was what they were good at.
Jesus takes this familiar activity and turns it around. ‘Want to learn how to fish for people? Watch me. Watch how I treat people. See how I notice them. I see the rejected, the lowly, the oppressed.’
People are at the heart of Jesus’ ministry. The gospel writers go to lengths to show Jesus’ interest in people through miracles, showing mercy, forgiveness and his death on the cross. In following Jesus the disciples caught this vision of people.
2. Following Jesus Means Doing What He Does
Jesus didn’t ask the disciples to watch what he did. Instead, he asked them to follow him. It required action. Jesus’ words are very similar to what rabbis would say to students. Rabbis gave students the chance to follow, watch, learn, and copy, importantly continue their work.
Jesus takes this model as he calls disciples. It starts with him. It’s his idea, not ours. The work of the disciple is to follow, learn, copy and continue. The disciples begin to know Jesus better as they follow him. As they learn and copy what he does the vision and mission of Jesus begins to grow within them. As they continue in Jesus’ mission they begin to show him to others.
The mission doesn’t stop when Jesus dies or ascends to heaven. In John 20:21-22, Jesus sends his disciples out in they same way that he has been sent by the Father to continue his work empowered by the Holy Spirit. The mission doesn’t start with the followers of Jesus; it starts with Jesus. He guides the mission and the results are up to him.
Doesn’t this apply to us as followers of Jesus today?
Following Jesus is all about watching, learning and copying what he does, and then continuing to do his work today.
3. Following Jesus Is A Community Activity
Following Jesus is never a one man show. Jesus didn’t just call one disciple, and we shouldn’t try to fly solo. When Jesus gave his disciples a practice run of mission without him by their side, he sent them in pairs (Mark 6:7-13). Why should we be any different?
We need each other because, even though God gifts people, no one has every gift. And this is a good thing. It should remind us of our need to rely on the Holy Spirit. Jesus became upset when James and John would argue about who deserved more honour. The truth is we need each other, because we aren’t the one’s who take centre stage.
God is the real deal as we follow Jesus, and learn what fishing for people means. We all have a role to play. We might pray, share our faith, extend mercy, bear grace, shalom, or promote reconciliation and beauty. Or we may feed the hungry, show kindness, or open our doors in hospitality. Yet if we are following Jesus together, none of these is of greater, or less, importance. Instead we are the supporting actors for the God who is the real fisher of people.
I need you to help me follow Jesus. I can’t do it by myself, and neither can you. It’s not how we are made.
Well, that’s it for this post, but next time. I want to explore some of the reasons why we aren’t missional as we follow Jesus. Any thoughts?