(Just a quick side note. Moving forward/moving on is beginning to look like something different from simply walking away. I’m realizing that walking away from established relationships isn’t as necessary as I thought. Adjustments and changes do have to be made, but, well, some relationships can also change and be strengthened. Others have to be adjusted and stepped back from for the moment, and maybe some relationships seasons have come to an end. It’s still too early to tell to be honest. I’ve had a couple of meetings that have been incredible over this past week and I know God is working and doing something amazing in the lives of all concerned.)
In my blog post from last week titled “Who do you follow”, I wrote about the last conversation Christ had with Peter. It ended with Christ telling him “you must follow me”. Which, is really ironic, because that’s also the first thing Christ said to him. Let’s take a look at this conversation.
18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
Matthew’s account is by far the briefest, probably due to the fact that he was writing roughly 30 years after and even though he was an apostle, at this point he had not been called, so he is probably relying on Peter’s account. Scholars believe that the Gospels of Matthew and Mark are similar and Matthew even relies on Marks gospel and the reason for this is because they believe Matthew wants to prove the unity of the gospel of Christ. The gospel of Mark’s version is pretty much the same thing word for word, but what strikes me is that Jesus’s first words to Peter were basically the same as his last words to him. “Follow ME”. The big difference though, is that here HE says “COME”. It’s an invitation, not a suggestion, but an invitation. Peter and his brother Andrew were followers of John the Baptist, so they were already searching for something more than mere religion that they were born into. They were looking for truth. When Jesus approaches them, and when John the Baptist acknowledges that Jesus is the Christ, they recognize that Jesus has more to offer. Which brings us to Luke’s account.
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret,[a] the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
What’s so interesting about this you may be asking? Well, it’s a fishing story. The last account of Peter and Jesus talking in the book of John has it after they had been out fishing. As it ends, so it began. Peter, Andrew, James , and John were fishing when Jesus called them, they were working their trade, so it is when Christ calls us. We are living our lives, plying our trades and going to school. When we experience the call of God on our lives its overwhelming, emotional, and miraculous. That’s what we see in Luke’s account. Peter, along with his coworkers is overwhelmed and amazed and confesses emotionally. Jesus overwhelmed them with fish and it was symbolic of what he was going to do in their lives as well. Christ wants to do the same for us today, HE wants to make us productive fisherman, not of the actual fish, but of men. HE wants to overwhelm us with HIS goodness and to force us out of our boats, which are nothing more than comfort zones. Now we come to the last account. The account of John, this is where it gets interesting.
35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).42 And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter[g]).
Hold Up!!! Wait a minute!!! This account is different then the other accounts. You’re probably reading this and thinking this is a discrepancy in the accounts, a contradiction even. Well, it’s not. You see, John was an eyewitness to events, whereas Matthew, even though he was an apostle, still hadn’t been called yet. Mark, and Luke were writing from second-hand accounts. Memories of others and oral tradition. John lived the experience, so he’s going to take a different point of view then the other three. In this account, John was with Peter’s brother Andrew, when they followed Christ, they followed because they were pointed to him by their mentor John the Baptist. In this account, they basically left John, and followed Jesus and when he asked what they wanted, they simply said to see where you live. Christ’s reply? It was an invitation. “COME”. Again, it’s not a suggestion, it’s an invitation. In this account, Andrew goes and finds Peter and brings him to Jesus, it’s the first true account of witnessing. Andrew believed and then invited his brother Peter to come along and experience Christ for himself and decide what he should do. When Peter meets Christ, he’s given a change in his name. So, does that mean the fishing trip reported in the first three Gospels never happened because John doesn’t mention it? No, it just means that he didn’t bother to describe what they did that day, except that they went and hung out. Christ experienced life with them, and that probably meant going out on the boats with them to fish. Christ wants to do that with us, to experience life with us on a day-to-day, moment by moment basis. Christ invites us to come along and experience life with HIM. He wants to change our names and our points of view. To change us from victims of a world that wants to control and break us down, to children of THE KING that wants to give us freedom from the slavery that the world imposes on us. Peter’s first conversation with Christ was an invitation: “COME”, and a change of name from Simon to Cephas (Peter when translated). Our first conversation with Christ is similar: an invitation and a name change.