Wednesday, 18 July 2012


Jesus walked along the busy shores of the sea of Galilee. He stopped at a boat that belonged to Simon. Until now, He told Simon, you have been a fisher of fish but I will make you a fisher of men. That would be strange enough for most of us but what happened next is stranger. Simon left his boat and his nets and followed Jesus. It perhaps does not strike us that this is strange because we understand the rest of the story. But it is indeed strange that a successful fisherman leaves his profession and becomes the disciple of an itinerant preacher.

Jesus approached the tax booth as he crossed the border. He told one of the tax collectors to follow Him and he does. Jesus is not collecting only fishermen. He then dines with Matthew's friends, the publicans and sinners. The difference between a tax collector and a fisherman is substantial in many ways and it would seem that Jesus is choosing a widely diverse group to train them to reach an even more diverse group.

There is a trend among in the West to accommodate strangers and foreigners.  Certainly, Jesus's approach to the Kingdom of God shows His desire to be inclusive."Whoever believes in me shall not perish but have eternal life." [John 3:16b]. Seems to be inclusive. Yet there is another time when His inclusivity is lacking. Jesus said, "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you.Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day." [John 6:53,54]. The response of some of his disciples was, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?"[John 6:60].  Jesus replied to them. "Does this offend you?"

Indeed it did offend many. They began to leave. When I first read this I was expecting that Jesus would explain that he was speaking metaphorically and not to the natural realm. However, he did not. Through misunderstanding of Jesus, many went away and yet He did not stop them. My heart did not understand why Jesus did not want to save these people also.

Eventually, Jesus turns to Simon Peter and asks him why he is not leaving also. Simon Peter does not have any insight into what Jesus said either. He simply says, "Lord, who else has the words of eternal life?" Indeed who else does! The crowd (and I at that time) had an expectation that Jesus would explain things to us. After all, do not the advertisers, the professors and the politicians bend over backwards to explain why we should follow their point of view? But the advertisers, professors and politicians have agendas other than telling us the truth.

Why oh why Jesus, did you let these people walk away? I did not understand this for a season. Peter, though he failed to understand what Jesus said, did understand who Jesus was! This made a huge difference on that day. Though Jesus was not comprehensible on that day He was still the Christ, the Messiah. If you cannot trust the Messiah, who can you trust?

Jesus was preparing a group of 12 disciples to revolutionize the world. He needed people who understood who He was and the principles of spiritual living. One of the principles in spiritual living is that you are following Jesus; He is not following you. He is doing things you do not understand but He does them with you. His victories require unconditional following. That is what discipleship means. If you cannot follow Jesus unconditionally you will be held back one day by your lack of understanding. Jesus needed unconditional followers. So he let go those who put conditions on their following.

So is it possible to give Jesus your unconditional following? Only if you believe He is who He says He is.

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