“Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.
Every time I hear this I picture the same scene in my head. I imagine a boat sitting on the beach with someone working in it, think Tim Robbins at the end of The Shawshank Redemption. A guy comes walking down the beach and says “follow me, I’ll make you fishers of men”. The guys working on the boat glance at each other, shrug their shoulders, and jump down to the beach to follow the man. Then, the three of them walk a bit further down the beach and they see a couple men on the next boat working with their father. “Hey, follow me,” the man says. The two men turn to their father and say “Sorry, we gotta go.” They jump down to the beach and follow the man as well. I’m sure John and James’s father, Zebedee, was not too pleased that his sons had decided to blow off work for the day. I can picture Zebedee grumbling about how kids today don’t know the value of a hard days work, and how their are willing to just go follow any passing fad that comes along, like bellbottom jeans.
Today, however, something new hit me. What do you think John and James told their father? Was it “I retire” or was it “I’m going on vacation”? In other words, do you think they thought this was a life altering moment, or do you think they thought it was a temporary thing? We see in John’s gospel that after the crucifixion the men went back to fishing. This makes me think that if these men had not seen the risen Christ, they would have just returned to their old lives. Meaning it was just a vacation when they listened to Christ’s command and decided to follow him. Then, upon seeing the risen Christ, they now understand that they are retired – no more fishing for them. They have a higher calling. They need to spread the gospel throughout the nations and witness to the risen Christ.
I think that most of us, if we have really paid attention, have at some point heard Christ say the same words to us – “follow me”. Some of us stayed in the boat and just continued fishing. Some of us left our nets temporarily, but keep going back to them because we love fishing so much. We all know how much fun fishing can be. Some actually had the strength to give up fishing forever, never to return. I know, personally, that I left my nets after some stubbornness, but I still get the occasional urge to go “fishing”. It is at these moments that I have to lean on my faith in Christ and remember his command – “follow me”.