Just as we did for Advent, we will be posting a series of reflections on the upcoming Sunday’s sermon scripture during this season of Epiphany. You may use these devotions as you want – for yourself, with a group or as a family; all at once, or broken up throughout the week. We suggest you start with the Scripture readings before you engage the other pieces. Enjoy!
Each Gospel tells the call stories of Jesus’ disciples in a different way. In each version, these fishermen, Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew, are the very first or among the first people called to follow Jesus. Luke’s version differs from the others, however, both in length and details. In Mark and Matthew, a simple “Follow me,” from Jesus causes Peter and Andrew and their friends James and John to drop their fishing nets, leave their boats and begin traveling with Jesus. In Luke’s version, we see the impact Jesus’ words have on Simon before Jesus says that his old life is done and a new life is beginning.
It is likely that Mark and Matthew simply took for granted that Peter, Andrew, James and John would have heard Jesus’ preaching along the shore as they tended to their nets, cleaned their boats and prepared fish for sale. They cut to the important words of Jesus’ call. Luke, as he does in other stories, adds the details we can relate to. We can imagine being one of these tired fishermen who have nothing to show for a night’s work. We can imagine they might have been bemused, but curious when this man whose words have been drawing more and more people to the shoreline asks to preach from our boats for a while. What would we have to lose? We could rest a bit and hear all of what this man had to say.
Luke helps bring us into the story with these details. Mark’s writing moves us quickly through so that we can get caught up in the excitement of the people who follow Jesus. Matthew connects Jesus’ story deeply to the story of the Jewish people. John wants us to know that this is an eternal story, fully human but also fully divine. But Luke wants to take some extra time to show us where we fit into this story. We see ourselves in the human needs, hopes and failings that Luke writes about. We, too, hear Jesus’ words and declare ourselves unworthy.
Jesus calls us in the same way the disciples are called. When we declare ourselves unworthy, Jesus declares us beloved and necessary to the work of spreading the good news. We, too, are fishers of people. We, too, are called to share the words and deeds that brought us to Jesus because our lives have been transformed by them.
The mark of a good relationship is that you are a better person with that other person in your life. Simon Peter sees clearly how Jesus makes his life better, and can’t believe that Jesus would ask him to stick around for more. This change is so profound, two sets of brothers leave their entire livelihoods and follow Jesus. We can see how profound this is because of Luke’s detailed storytelling. What details matter in our own stories?
- What are the things that make you want to follow Jesus?
- What are the ways that following Jesus make you a better person? (Feel better, act better, dream higher)
- What can you do to help others feel like that about their lives?
Christ – you have changed us forever. Help us share our stories in words that others can understand. Show us the ways that we can use our gifts and skills in new ways to lift up others in the ways we have been lifted. May we stop using our gifts and skills simply to do the work in front of us and take care of our own needs, but rather help us see the needs of the world. You have done marvelous things for us. May we do marvelous things with You. Amen.