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Come With Me

The story of Jesus’ call to the first four disciples is well known. You can find it in Matthew 4 v 18-22 if you want to refresh your memory.

There really isn’t much of a story, to be fair. It seems almost miraculous in its simplicity.

‘Come with me,’ Jesus said. And they went. No questions asked.

But what, I wonder, did Jesus see in those particular men that made him call out? And what, indeed, did they see in him that made them respond?

Perhaps we’re not getting the full story. Maybe the gospel only records the ones who said yes. Maybe there were plenty of others who ignored the call, or who reminded Jesus that they were far too busy getting on with their own lives, providing for their families and dealing with the here and now, to listen to some strange preacher who had maybe spent too long wandering in the wilderness for his own good.

It seems more than likely, considering what we know about human nature. Perhaps that’s the only thing that was really special about Simon, Andrew, James and John: that they were willing to step out of their comfort zone, willing to look beyond their everyday lives, willing to take up an opportunity that presented itself?

And maybe that’s the only thing that Jesus really looks for in any of his disciples, at least at the start: a willingness to respond to a call, to go with him.

There are no special qualifications; no requirement to have been born into the right family or the right race; no need for financial backing; no prior experience. When Jesus says ‘Come with me’, the invitation is open to all. And for those who respond, anything could happen.

I doubt Simon, Andrew, James and John had the slightest idea of what was coming when they left their nets to follow Jesus. They would go on to witness miracles and recognise Jesus as the Messiah; Simon became Peter – the rock upon whom the church would be built; John may well have been the author of two books in the Bible; collectively, they got it badly wrong on more than one occasion…yet they were still responding to the call when they met together as instructed following Jesus’ death on the cross.

Their response meant that they learned the truth of the resurrection and, eventually, that they received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Three of the four were eventually executed for their faith, the other was exiled to Patmos – but not before their response to Jesus’ great commission (Matthew 28 v 18-20) had led them to spread the gospel far and wide.

They couldn’t have known what it would mean when they dropped their nets and followed Jesus.

A couple of thousand years later, we might feel like we have a better idea. And maybe that makes it a bit more complicated.

But the truth is, Jesus is still calling.

The invitation is there, every day. Every day, we can choose whether to respond. And when we dare to do so, the Holy Spirit is able to shape our lives in ways beyond our wildest imaginings.


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