18 As He was walking along the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen. 19 “Follow Me,” He told them, “and I will make you fish for[j] people!”20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and He called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him.
Upon reading this passage, it’s easy to see that when Jesus called the disciples their response was “immediately” (v20, 22). The response intrigues me some. Certainly these men were involved in their work, family businesses and making a living. Aside from the fact that it was Jesus calling them, what would compel them to such an immediate response, without hesitation, abandoning everything? Here are a couple of things to consider.
1) It’s what they had been waiting for.
As a Jewish boy, their hearts and minds would have been conditioned to become a Rabi one day. From their earliest years of school, they would have learned the Torah and studied the scriptures. They would have seen the Rabis everyday and revered them not only as teachers but role models. These fishermen would have grown up waiting to be selected to become Rabis but this “calling” was reserved for only the best of the best. By these men being at home, mending nets, working with their families means that they were the modern day rejects. They were sent back to do their family business because they didn’t pass the tests that would have made them another Rabis disciple. So when Jesus comes along and calls them to follow Him, they don’t consult or confer with their families…they get up and go because it was what they had been waiting for all of their lives!
2) It’s what they had been training for.
Even though they knew their family business, for years on end, they were memorizing studying and being tested on Torah. Day in and day out it was listen to your Rabi, know your Rabi and look forward to being with your Rabi and following in his steps one day. Little did they know that all of their training, both with their Rabis and their families would be used by God. When Jesus passed by He told them He would make them “fishers of men”. Jesus’ call was not dismissing their skills or belittling their family business moreover, He was looking to employ every aspect of their lives for His glory. They got up and go with Him because it was what they had been training for all of their lives.
3) It’s what they had wanted.
Ultimately, the disciples respond to Jesus’ call because it was what they had always wanted. They simply wanted to be chosen. Jesus comes along and chooses them and they need nothing more in order to drop it all and follow Him. Being called meant that someone saw something in them. Not only did Jesus see what they could become, He saw their desire to become like Him. That’s what they wanted and it’s what Jesus wanted. Even though the response was immediate, the result was not. Thank God for His patience with all of His disciples…myself included! Jesus’ call was not conditional upon who or what they were at that moment…it was all about what they wanted to become. They had been waiting, they had been training, but nothing compares to desire. They left it all and followed Him because it was their greatest desire to know Him and be like Him. May we endeavor to do the same.