Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea– for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
Earliest of the “Synoptic” gospels, Mark’s “synopsis” of Jesus’ life is bare bones, spare, and nothin’-but-the-facts-ma’am. We have to imagine the details.
The text says, Jesus shows up, says “Follow me,” and these rough, hard-working fishermen drop everything and “immediately” follow him. Sounds fishy to me!
I’m guessing it took a while to convince them to follow. “What does “fishers of men” really mean,” they asked. “Who’s picking up our room and board?! When can we return to our families?” Maybe it was more about HOW Jesus treated them than the answers he gave, that made them want to follow him. He seemed to treat them with such respect — a rarity in their lives.
As we begin this Lenten Season…
What questions would you have had for Jesus? What would have convinced you to follow this odd, but intriguing, stranger?
Today, there are lots of people asking for our loyalty, saying “Follow me.” Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden want our loyalty. What do we require of someone before following them? Following someone implies serious commitments to that person’s values. These fishermen had no idea where their following Jesus would lead.
Note that in recruiting these rough fisherman, Jesus tells them what they will DO, not what they have to believe. Later Jesus will tell them God cares much more about what you do than about what you believe.
How did following Jesus become more a catechism of beliefs than a track record of compassionate actions?
Bishop Gene Robinson+
Holy One, give me a discerning heart before I choose to follow anyone. Let my greatest loyalty be to You, my greatest devotion be to Your values, not the world’s. May my actions make it obvious to anyone who’s watching, that I am following Jesus. Amen.