18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
The familiar can sometimes become formulaic. For example, I know the recipe for my grandmother's banana bread so well, I can make it without even looking...although I sometimes do just to see her handwriting. Or I know my morning routine. Or where my favorite items are at in the grocery store. And the same can be true with the above passage.
Jesus walking along...sees two brothers. We could stop there because I wonder how often we really see what we think we do? Life can become a blur. The speed of our pace causes us to lose sharpness and focus. Because we get the sense in this scripture passage that Jesus' seeing goes deeper than a quick glance. Jesus sees something in Peter and Andrew other than "two dudes fishing". Jesus doesn't just see Peter and Andrew as a means to an end...like Jesus thinking, "I could really go for some halibut right now. Look, how convenient some fishermen." No, Jesus sees something else.
So, he calls them. "Follow me," which is a common invitation for a rabbi to students. While we may be amazed that Peter and Andrew so quickly said, "We are in and outta here," it was a great honor to be called to study under a rabbi. It was like getting a letter of acceptance to Harvard. And because usually those letters went out earlier in a person's life...Peter and Andrew had not made the initial cut. Other rabbis didn't see much potential in them...but Jesus did. Imagine in your late twenties have Yale come knocking...or Oxford. Perhaps we might understand why Peter and Andrew were so eager. As are James and John.
This calling of a community of people is one that reverberates still to this day. And usually reflections on this passage end with the religious person (me) saying, "And Jesus is still calling you." To which you think, "Me? Really? Cause I don't hear it." To which the religious person says, "Try harder!" And you think, "Gee thanks for that insight."
But to break open this passage fresh I call your attention to the above painting. It is by Donald Jackson and he writes, "The busyness and worries of life can overwhelm people, even when they are simply trying to accomplish day to day tasks. For its size, the illumination called The Call of the Disciples can be quite overwhelming. The moving crowds, flying angels, Jesus somewhere in there, and almost an unnoticeable lamb on the bottom right corner of the page. With all this going on, one must step back and ask what is the message this image is trying to convey? As any believer and non-believer would know, following a certain practice or belief is no easy task. Being a disciple comes with its challenges and blessings, but that is not the message this image invokes. Looking at it one might ask the question “Where is God calling me to serve him?” or “How is God calling me to live out my call?” With Christ barely noticeable in the middle of the page and displaying similar colors to both the people and angels, one can consider that message is about solidarity and about Christ’s presence here and now, among us. One can receive the message that the call to follow Christ is to serve one another, to live in solidarity."
So may you, in the busyness of life this week, find ways to serve and live in solidarity. May you, like the disciples, realize this is a journey not a destination. May you continually be open to the soft voice of one who is still saying to you, "Come and follow me." Not that we get it right all the time but that the voice continual, persistently, stubbornly keeps calling with more than a trace of grace.