Saturday, January 22, 2011

"Come with me," Jesus said.

the Greek letters spell the word Fish
they also stand for
Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior
This week's lectionary passage is a favorite of mine.  Here are a couple of verses, Matthew 4:18-20:
     Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, "Come with me. I'll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I'll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass." They didn't ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed.   (The Message)
     Each time I read this passage I wonder, what was it about Jesus that was so inspiring that Andrew and Simon/Peter dropped everything to follow him?  
     In seminary Dr VanderBroek talked about how contextually we need to be reminded that every Jewish boy went to Hebrew school, and yet only the best and brightest were selected for further study, the rest went into the family business.  Andrew and Simon/Peter  (like James and John, the sons of Zebedee who also dropped everything and followed Jesus) were not illiterate fishermen, but business men, they ran a fishing business that had to be prosperous enough to care for their families. 
     But what was it about this 30 something carpenter named Jesus that inspired these men to leave everything behind?  When we dig deeper in the passage we find a bit of a clue - remembering their Hebrew school lessons they may have thought that Jesus' words were code for a new kind of revolution.  Note this prophesy from Jeremiah 16:16:
I am now sending for many fishermen, says the Lord, and they shall catch them; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks.
     Was Jesus as a modern day warrior-King calling out troops for a battle against Roman oppression?  This was what the whole country was yearning for, and what Hebrew school wash out wouldn't love to be on the front lines of a revolution?!
     What Andrew, Simon/Peter, James and John and the other disciples found out over time is that they were indeed part of a revolution, but it was very different from anything the prophets could have imagined.  Emmanuel, God with us, walking our walk, showing the way, teaching and healing and caring for our broken and hurting world not with swords but with love and compassion.  In the end, Jesus the Christ paid the ultimate price for the sins of the world.  He laid down his life for you and for me.  And on the third day he was resurrected and even now sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.  Thanks be to God!
     In the midst of the political and economic turmoil that we find ourselves in as a country, as citizens of the United States in the 21st Century - isn't it time for us to hear again our Savior's words:  
              Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near.   (Matthew 4:17b)
     What if lived as if we believed, really believed, that God's kingdom is here and now?  In my mind, the Kingdom of heaven here and now means that children aren't going without food, that families aren't going without health care, that old folks aren't alone, that veterans aren't living under get the idea.
     And another thing, what if we too believed that we are invited to drop our own nets and follow Him?!  Talk about a radical idea for our current culture.  But if we are to be followers of the Savior of the world, isn't this an important part of what disciples do? What nets do I have to drop so that I may live more like Christ?  What about you?  Where would we be willing to go to follow him?  To the city?  Haiti?  Across the world?  Our next door neighbors?  
     Are you ready to be part of the revolution?  Let's pray about this - and talk about this - and seek ways to grow into our call to be disciples of Jesus - to really follow Him.  He is the Savior of the world after all.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your reflections, Deborah. I like the connection to Jeremiah. Interesting.

    I'm preaching on this passage tomorrow using the image of Jesus as "magnet" (and I think he seems like one when he walks along the shore, picking up people). I've got some Magnetix toys here on my desk and I've been thinking about the irresistible pull they exert.

    Of course there's the other side, too. If you turn a magnet around, it repels, too. And of course there were people repelled by Jesus' words. So it's an interesting image to think about.

    The church, too, attracts (not as strongly as Jesus, I'm afraid) and repels (too strongly sometimes). I long for us to get those forces back in balance.