And You Shall Be Fishers Of Men

Today, after switching with another Sabbath School teacher (and occasional blog reader), who wanted to teach on a weekend where she had custody, my lesson for today was on Jesus choosing the apostles. As this is a subject of considerable personal interest [1], I was happy to make the switch, especially as it allowed me to talk about the curious way in which Jesus ended up calling his apostles, namely by having them help. This is worthy of some explanation, so let us look at at least a few passages that deal with Jesus’ calling of the apostles and what kind of insights we can gain from it. At least by looking at what scripture says we can get a firm foundation, no matter how far we may go afield in our own musing and pondering, as anyone who reads my Sabbath School reflections [2] knows well.

First, let us briefly look at the apostles themselves and how they rank among each other. There are four places where the apostles are listed as a group (Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16, and Acts 1:13, which does not include Judas since he had committed suicide after betraying the Christ). These apostles break down into three groups of four, with an obvious top 3 containing Simon Peter, and James and John of Zebedee. Some of the apostles, even in the middle to lower rankings, are somewhat notable (like Judas Iscariot, Matthew, and Thomas) while some are nearly entirely obscure and have merited almost no mention in the Gospels. Who, for example, can figure out what sort of person James of Alphaeus was, if they can even remember who he was? Clearly, whatever the body of apostles was, it was not entirely egalitarian. The twelve continually struggled for power and position, wasting what could have been immense opportunities to get to know Jesus Christ well by seeking their own narrow and petty ambitions over and over again, just like the rest of us apart from the presence of God’s Spirit in our lives.

Second, let us look at how Jesus called the apostles. There is an extended commentary on the calling of one apostle in particular that I took special care to focus on, namely the calling of Nathanael, with his open and honest and guileless critique of Nazereth as an unsuitable town for anything good to come from, as well as his meditation on the communication between earth and heaven. Before this, though, there is a comment on the way in which the apostles were called, in part through the enthusiastic efforts of others. Let us look, for example, at John 1:35-45: “Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour). One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone). The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”” Here we see that Jesus’ call was not merely limited to those He called directly, but also to those who were called through the testimony of their friends and family, and whose credibility allowed those with a mind that God had opened to come and hear what the Savior had to say.

Finally, let us look a bit at the renewed call to the apostleship that shortly comes in Matthew 4:18-22: “And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.” Here we see that Jesus Christ called his apostles from among the ordinary people of Galilee. He did not make His inner circle out of the princelings or priestly elite that were easy to find in Judea and Galilee, but he chose people of sincere faith from among the commonfolk. That ought to be of encouragement to us, for if Jesus Christ behaved that way when He came to this earth, then it should be little wonder that we often see believers of a wide variety of tribes and nations and peoples that are similarly people without a claim to fame. Sometimes we might be tempted to sell ourselves short and not recognize that our humble state makes it easier for God to work for His glory within us, because the contrast between what He does through us is so wide from where we would naturally be expected to be.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/introducing-and-ranking-the-twelve-apostles/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/thomas-didymus-the-man-and-the-myth/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/simon-zealotes/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/bartholmew-called-nathanael-an-israelite-in-whom-there-is-no-guile/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/you-brought-me-here/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/05/25/in-the-lions-den/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/04/26/the-handwritings-on-the-wall/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/with-or-without-you/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/built-to-last/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/i-love-to-be-the-underdog/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/11/03/young-samuel/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Christianity, Church of God, History, Musings and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to And You Shall Be Fishers Of Men

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