The calling of the disciples: Luke’s telling of this story is very different from the other Gospels. First of all, in Luke there is a previous relationship with Simon-Peter established that other Gospels don’t have. In Matthew and Mark, Jesus just seems to stumble on these men and randomly call them to follow, and they do. We are given no reason for why they would leave their livelihoods to follow this man who appears to be a stranger. It’s like Obi-Wan-Kenobi playing a Jedi mind trick on them. But in Luke, Jesus has been spending some time with Simon-Peter. He was previously at his house and healed his mother-in-law. An even right here in this story, Jesus gains credibility by leading them to a huge catch of fish. Peter calls him “master” early on, but after the catch of fish he calls him “Lord”. A relationship of deep respect is already established, and this is why they go. They know who he is, they know what he’s about, and they want to be a part of it. All they need is an invitation.
There is a lot to this story- more than I have time to get into in one daily blog (we’ll be digging more deeply into this on Sunday at Aldersgate Church in St. Louis Park). But what strikes me here, right now, is the invitation. Sometimes that’s all it takes. People want to belong to something that matters. And this mission that Jesus is on? It matters. Jesus knows it’s going to be hard, he knows that there is going to be opposition (you can’t bring good news to the poor, liberate the captive, and set free the oppressed without it), and he knows that it will require the “all” of whoever joins him. It would be easy not to invite anyone, and just see who happens to join, because you know the ask is a big ask. But he doesn’t do that. Jesus’ mind and heart are focused on the big picture to such a degree that all who know him can see it. So when he says, “from now on you will be catching people”, they know that this subtle invitation is an invitation into something huge and something that matters.
I think most people in our world today are waiting for such an invitation as this. The want to belong to something that matters, and they’re just waiting to be invited. Yet we so rarely invite people into God’s mission with us. Why is this? Perhaps because we don’t want to be weird. That’s a good reason. Don’t be weird about this stuff. Being weird about this stuff is not the good kind of weird. But maybe the reason it gets weird, is that we’re not so certain it matters ourselves. People are waiting for an invitation, but they’re not waiting for an invitation to busy-ness, to another club or group, or to another thing to put on their calendar. They’re waiting to be invited into a call. They’re waiting to be summoned into a mission. They’re waiting to step out into deep waters that are uncertain, but have a clear vision of a better world, a better life, and a better humanity. We, the Church, need to recapture that vision. Without it one of two things will happen: Either we so lack a sense a vision that we invite no one to anything; or we invite people to a world of mere activity. Before we do anything else, let’s recapture, reimagine, and reignite the vision and mission of God within us. Then let’s call our friends, family members, and neighbors into it with us. There’s a great catch waiting for us. We just have to be willing to push out into deep waters.
Here’s the message for this passage from January 24 at Aldersgate UMC.