Jesus didn’t put an ad in the paper, “Seeking 12 men to follow me.” He didn’t go to the synagogue school and ask to interview the top 12 students. He didn’t stay in his hometown and gather up 12 of his childhood buddies. He didn’t wait for people to come to him asking to be disciples.
Jesus went out to the lake shore because he wanted those kind of people. Fishermen were hard-working and strong, patient and determined. Fishing for a living took faith — they couldn’t see the fish under the surface but they had to believe they were down there. They had no formal education, no qualifications for ministry — yet were well-trained by everyday life experiences. Fishermen were robust, hardy souls who knew how to work together to pull in a catch. And they were fun.
I wonder what Zebedee thought the day Jesus came down to the fishing boats and talked to his sons, James and John. There they were, father and sons, sitting in the boat together getting the nets ready to cast out on the water. And Jesus offered the boys a chance of a lifetime — tutelage under a real rabbi. Such an opportunity for simple fishermen! The Bible says, “…immediately James and John left the boat and their father and followed him.” They climbed out, waded to shore and were gone. Immediately.
Dear Zebedee, what did you think? Were you happy to see your sons find their destiny? Or were you ticked that they up and left the family business? James, were you itching to do something else with your life and this was your ticket out? John, did you know deep inside that you weren’t cut out to be a fisherman? Did you both feel like there had to be more to life than fish guts?
I hope Zebedee’s sons stopped in and checked on their father whenever they passed through Galilee.
I hope the old man didn’t make his boys feel guilty for leaving home and changing careers.
Jesus said, “Follow me.” James and John said, “Yes”. Pretty gutsy.