When Jesus began his public ministry, his first words were, as recorded in Matthew 4:17, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
As he began his ministry, he called James, John, Peter and Andrew from their nets. He first called for repentance and then called select persons. Unfortunately for Zebedee, he lost his whole fishing crew to Jesus.
When Jesus called the first disciples, they didn’t ask, “What are the fringe benefits?” They didn’t say, “Let us think about your calling and we’ll give you our decision tomorrow.”
There wasn’t time for such things, and besides, Jesus had made the decision that they were to follow him. When he called them, they responded in an affirmative manner.
When it came to Jesus putting his disciples’ army against sin together, there weren’t any volunteers. They were all chosen by Jesus. Discipleship was, and is today, a gift of God’s grace. Jesus did the calling then, and he does it today as well. Perhaps he is calling you even as you read this article.
I want you to also realize that it wasn’t in some spectacular jolt, like something out of a Hollywood movie. He simply approached a few fishermen and told them to follow him. In the choosing of all the disciples, he simply called and they followed.
I wish I could say that everyone reacts in a positive manner when Jesus calls. I know everyone doesn’t. I know that there are times in my life when I would rather be doing something other than doing what Jesus has called me to do. I believe that if you are honest with yourself, you would agree that you aren’t always in the mood to be about what Jesus has called upon you to do.
But don’t get excited. Paul was a great witness for Jesus Christ, but he too had his moments.
Philip. 3:12 says, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.”
I suppose it was the same for all the other disciples. Peter denied Jesus; Judas betrayed Him; they all ran away. I wish I had access to a diary they may have individually written. I bet it would be great reading.
We would probably see some notes in that diary, such as, “Today Jesus called me to do a particular thing and I decided I would rather do something else.”
Jesus does call all of us to discipleship. He doesn’t call and then desert us. He is always with us. Discipleship is not a one-time selection and then you find yourself on your own. Jesus continues to reveal Himself to us as the Son of God.
Through the Spirit of Christ in us, God continues to reveal His glory to us.
When Jesus called the disciples, He found them at work, almost certainly sweaty, tacky, and smelling of fish. But he accepted them as they were, smell and all, and then he made and molded them into something they could only become by his grace.
Jesus’ last words to the disciples were recorded in Matt. 28:19-20: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Pastor Dennis Devorick can be reached at Centenary United Methodist Church, 1527 S.C. 544, Conway. The phone number is 843-347-3781 and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.