fresh bread: really?

Now when Jesus saw the crowd, he ordered his disciples to go over to the other side of the lake. A legal expert came and said to him, “Teacher, I’ll follow you wherever you go.”

Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens, and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Human One has no place to lay his head.”

Another man, one of his disciples, said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:18-22, CEB)

It’s the expression these days. When you encounter something that seems to defy the obvious, perhaps bordering on madness, you say (with the proper inflection), “Really?”

That’s how I hear Jesus responding to these men. One of them, an apparently would-be follower, says, “I’ll go wherever for you, just give me some time!” And Jesus looks him in the eyes and says, “Really?”

Then another man, already a disciple of Jesus, says to our Lord, “I’ll do whatever it takes for you!”  To which Jesus replies, “Really?”

Are we truly prepared to go wherever, and do whatever, Jesus calls us to be about? Would I continue to follow Christ if Christ called me away from all of my earthly securities? Is my relationship to Jesus actually stronger than my strongest family ties?

Really?

It all depends on the way you say it, doesn’t it? The way you say it with your life.

Really!

Heavenly Father, my lips are quick to claim great lengths to which I am willing to go for your Son. They are equally quick to ask that you be “reasonable” in your requests of me. Father, forgive me. In the name of your Son, my Savior, may my lips move no faster than my life, but may my life run for you. Amen.

fresh bread: how following Jesus is different

As Jesus walked alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, throwing fishing nets into the sea, because they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” he said, “and I’ll show you how to fish for people.” Right away, they left their nets and followed him.  Continuing on, he saw another set of brothers, James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father repairing their nets. Jesus called them and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-22, CEB)

Perhaps it’s because I enjoy fishing so much that this text always catches my eye or maybe it’s because there’s much more going on here than meets the eye.

In Jesus’ time, if a person wanted to become a disciple of a Jewish rabbi or sage, they approached the rabbi and asked to follow him. Jesus did something nearly unheard of when he reversed that sequence: he chose his own disciples. And so from the very start, discipleship with Jesus is different. The call is different in itself, not merely the demands of discipleship. Which gives rise to the question to me today: “As Jesus calls me, how will I respond?

Many fishermen in Jesus’ day were better off economically than most of the folks around them. While they weren’t even remotely close to being one of the elite of the land (who made up perhaps 1% or less of the population), they were definitely a leg or two up on 90% of the people. Fish was a staple in Galilee and keeping the business “in the family” could only add to economic advantage. But when Jesus called these four disciples, they “left their nets.” It’s even emphasized on the part of James and John that they “left the boat,” apparently with permanence in view. For a fishermen to walk away from his trade, even for a relatively short time, would certainly be costly to himself and all who depended on him. Even now, those who answer Jesus’ call find that it costs them in every way, especially their wallet. The question is obvious: “What do I love most?

And one thought more. James and John “left … their father.” It was unusual for rabbis of Jesus’ day to expect their disciples to be away from their families to study more than a few days at a time, thirty days being the outside limit for most. But Jesus expected more; much, much more. The potential repurcussions back home are not hard to imagine. And today, this much has not changed: to follow Jesus can mean real strain on familiy relationships. “Who do I love most?,” is the question.

Father in heaven, help me as I fish with you for people, to help them count the cost of following you. May I never leave the wrong impression, that commitment to you is “cheap.” May every heart you call respond not only freely, but fully. This I pray in the name of the Master Fisherman, Jesus. Amen.