There they were just going about their normal workday or whatever their normal daily routine was. Along comes Jesus and ‘ka-boom’ they are following Jesus. They change their normal routine and immediately respond to Jesus’ call.
When you think of it a bit, they were a motley band of men. Probably some women too although the Gospel does not mention that directly. It mentions it in other ways in other references.
There were no job interviews, resumes or curricula vitae. No employment tests or IQ tests. There was just Jesus’ call that required an immediate response. And they responded immediately. They were changed.
Epiphanies are like that. You say ‘ah-ha’, I’ve had an epiphany. It’s not so much an outcome of a great deal of reflection or pondering. It’s a moment when a light comes on. Maybe that is after some prior reflection and pondering but the moment is sudden and immediate.
We don’t know a lot about the personal details of the people Jesus called. It seems pretty much that they were normal people with jobs and families. The ones called today were fishermen. Another time, it was a tax collector. A bit of a span of occupations and stations. Of the other seven we don’t know what their background exactly was. It does seem though that they were people of various trades and professions. People with basically ordinary lives.
This merry band of followers was not comprised of perfect people. We often tend to overlook, when we think about the disciples, the fact that Judas betrayed Jesus and (Simon) Peter denied him openly three times.
And one might wonder what it was that Simon and Andrew, James or John knew about Jesus. Had they heard about him prior to these moments? Maybe Jesus’ reputation had preceded him but we don’t know. The response was still immediate and into a basically unknown future.
Epiphanies can be like that too. Suddenly, immediately there is an ‘ah-ha’ moment but where that insight leads is into a new unknown moment and into an unknown future beyond. The new disciples didn’t know what they were signing on for. Still, their response was an immediate one, apparently without hesitation. There was a moment of change but, in that moment, Simon and Andrew, James and John had no idea about what had changed, or how they were changed.
Change such as that is not a change of routine, quirks or habits. Change such as that has to do with a change in perspective, a change in attitude, a change in outlook, a change in how one perceives the world. It’s a kind of conversion.
“The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Repent – that is see things in new ways, see things in God’s way – and believe the good news.
There’s the bottom line message from the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry. See things in new ways and believe the good news.
The good news is that there is hope. There is acceptance. There is forgiveness. There is release for those who feel imprisoned. There is healing for those who feel broken.
That’s what the kingdom of God is about. And the call is to be looking for that all around. It’s a new dimension.
From the awareness of feeling the powerfulness and the release of forgiveness, from the feeling of being deeply accepted for who one is into the ability to see others from such a vantage point, with such compassion, is what the kingdom of God is about.
It’s reaching out to those in need from that humbled, human vantage point. It puts other things into the perspective of petty things that make little or even no difference in the wider picture of the Kingdom of God. And so it also means letting go … just as the fishermen let go of their nets that day along the Sea of Galilee. It’s a call to discern – to figure out – of what to let go. It means figuring out how to let go.
Letting go does not mean giving up. It means learning how to see things in a new way in the midst of pressures and tensions of daily happenings. It means a conversion in how to act. It means assessing whether or not and how actions contribute to building a community that sees things in God’s way.
And I guess that means working toward figuring out what God’s way is. How does one leave old ways in order to find new ways?
Struggling constantly against the flow can be exhausting. The message is to figure out the flow -- which I would call the flow of the Holy Spirit -- and to go with that flow.
Jesus proclaimed that the time is now. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent – that is see things in a new way – let go and believe the good news.
O Lord, Jesus, help us always to remember how you are calling us. Help us to harken to your call and to know that your call is an immediate one. Give us the strength to respond and the wisdom to know best how. Amen.
The Rev'd W Glenn Empey