Friday, February 28, 2014

Following Requires Radical Commitment

Luke 5:1 - 11 (Matt 3:18-22; Mark 1:16-20)

I wrote about this call to follow previously. Luke provides more details on the calling of Simon, Andrew, James and John than Matthew or Mark. In the details I see Jesus  and myself.

First, I somehow picked up the idea in Sunday School that these four were rough, poor, uneducated. They were sitting around with  nothing better to do and Jesus offered them the chance to change history. The facts show a different story.  These are BUSINESSMEN. They have partners (Lk 5:7,10  and hired servants (Mark 1:20). I checked my thoughts and found several commentaries pointed out that fisherman would have made a better than average income in Israel.

Picture these men at the end of their work day. Fishing is said to be best at night on the Sea of Galilee (Lake of Gennesaret) and best out in the deeper water; they've fished all night.They are cleaning their nets before going home to eat, sleep and start again. They are taking care of business. They are doing life.

Jesus gets right in the middle of Peter's business. I don't recall Peter offering to be a floating stage for the traveling Rabbi. Sometimes, it Jesus shows up right in the middle of our business/life, uninvited. We have a choice.

Peter makes a choice. He could have told Jesus to find another boat. He didn't. He obeyed. He submitted to the Rabbi and put his boat out.  Jesus continued teaching to the crowd. Peter made the right choice.

Jesus finished with the crowd and turns His attention to Peter. "Let's go fishing!"

Peter has another choice. He had submitted to the Rabbi in religious matters, allowing Him to use his boat for a  floating platform. Fishing is Peter's area of expertise! Jesus wants him to go fishing now....he tries to explain the facts to Rabbi Jesus, but in the end he again submits and they go fishing. In this transaction Peter is responding to Jesus as a Rabbi, not as the Son of God.

It's as if Jesus is saying, "Watch Me, Peter!" The catch is huge, the nets begin to break, his partners come to help, their boats are full and begin to sink.

In the midst of their business, these men are suddenly seized with amazement. Peter falls at Jesus' feet and cries, "Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!"

What caused this response from Peter? He hasn't appeared sinful. In fact, his actions have been exemplary in his treatment of Rabbi Jesus.  He  loaned his boat, obeyed in religious matters, obeyed in his area of expertise and followed what appeared to be  a senseless request. Peter may have been feeling pretty good about himself and his humble service to this Rabbi. He was racking up some good temple brownie points. He's a good boy. I'm a good girl.

I believe Peter (Andrew, James and John) recognized in this moment  Rabbi Jesus was more than a teacher, he was God. Peter's response is raw and authentic. He sees God and is overwhelmed with his mess, his sin...he's instantly  "poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3). He is stripped of all pretense. He has no desire to hide. I AM SINFUL.  His response mirrors Isaiah's call in Isaiah chapter 6. His response mirrors mine.

Via Google Images
Jesus tells Peter to "fear not." You're not stuck in your mess. In fact, I have a plan. I'm going to use you. I'm going to use your vocation as a background for your call, I'm using your personality (which will be conformed to My image), I'm even going to use your friendships. What a gift Jesus gave these men - to continue their community -  now their partnership will bless the kingdom and have eternal results.

I love that this call fits Peter. He will be fishing for men - catching men. He transforms their vocation and uses it for His purposes....much as the shepherds, Moses and David, became shepherds of Israel.

They left everything and followed Jesus.

"Fishermen made a better than average income, so leaving their job is an act of radical commitment that they would expect to adversely affect them economically."  (Bible Background Commentary - IVP)

This following Jesus is life-changing, big stuff. This following required a radical commitment of Peter, Andrew, James and John. It was more important for them to authentically follow Jesus, than it was for them to "live the dream," keep to their plan.  It's more important for me to authentically follow Jesus than it is for me to walk out my plans. That's just the way Jesus is - sometimes - He shows up right in the middle of life, gets personal with us, and nothing is ever the same again. He does what He wants.

And heart's passion is to follow Jesus.

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

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