Pastor John’s Bible Stories For Grown-ups
09/06/16 – 563 – Jesus Calls His First Disciples
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Have you ever asked yourself why these men, who were probably in their late teens, would have simply walked away from their jobs when a stranger called? Did Jesus have a magical power over them? And why would Zebedee be OK with his sons walking out on him and the family business? I always pictured him shaking his fist at them and yelling “You two better get back here!”
Well, Jesus never forced Himself on anyone – including us, nor tricked us into following Him. Which is more than we can say for Satan. So the only explanation is that following a rabbi who was willing to teach them was pretty much the greatest honor they could ever imagine. And it was.
In the educational system of the day, boys began their education by memorizing the Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible). They began at the age of 5-6, and should have had that completed by age 10 or so. Just like us <wink>. Only the very best students would be selected to go on, and memorize the rest of the Bible (our Old Testament) by about the age of 14-15.
At that point only the cream of that crop might be chosen by rabbis to become their disciples. The rest would be deemed ‘not good enough’ and sent home to learn the family trade. Which is probably why Peter & Andrew, James & John were working in fishing boats when Jesus called them. They were washouts.
You see, it was the job of a disciple (student, but in a much deeper sense than we think of it) to learn everything that could be learned about their rabbi (teacher) and to become as much like him as possible. Somewhere along the way some rabbi (teacher) had decided that these guys were just not good enough to do it.
Honestly, I’ve had teachers like that in college. I recall 2 in particular who used to boast about what great teachers they must be, because no one ever got an ‘A’ in their class. In other words, they weren’t really interested in teaching, but in having people around that they could keep to a level just a little lower than where they felt their own was.
Many rabbis were like this. Their teachings were purposely made difficult and confusing. My guess is that many potentially great disciples were sent home after being told ‘You aren’t good enough to be like me!’ I wonder how many just gave up – discouraged.
But then here comes this new rabbi who does a radical thing – He calls His disciples from out of the ‘rejects’! From the guys who years before were sent home from school as not being smart enough, devoted enough or whatever to study under a rabbi. He goes straight to these guys and He says “I think you are good enough to be like me!”
Of course they dropped everything and followed. Of course Zebedee let them (he was probably jumping for joy). Jesus had given them a second chance – called them to the greatest honor imaginable for a Jewish boy – to be the disciple of a rabbi!
And now, He does the same for us. We who are told over and over that we aren’t good enough, that we don’t make a difference, that we can’t do it, need only to look up. Jesus Himself is standing right there in front of you, reaching out to you and saying “Come. Follow me. I think you’re good enough. I think you can do it.”
Our prayer for today? Easy – just answer Him.