No Matter How Small


“Come, follow me.” Only three words, but what words they are, knowing as we do, what is being offered to us in them, and by whom. These words come at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. He has come across these two brothers, Simon and Andrew, as he was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. We can imagine the scene, the smells of the sea and of fish, maybe the quiet talk of a pair of brothers engaged in the common and familiar duties of working fishermen. We can imagine that their faces and arms are burned dark by the sun that they fish under, day after day. Their hands must have been scarred and calloused from rowing the oars, and working the nets. Then this stranger comes to them, unbidden, who speaks very cryptically to them, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” And the scriptures tell us, “At once they left their nets and followed him.”

There is something between the lines here in Matthew that is not in Luke’s account (Luke 5:1-11), which is much more narrative in style and gives a more rounded picture. Something mysterious and powerful seems to have happened here. A simple invitation is made and it is instantly followed, without question. We must remember who is the speaker here, Jesus. They must have seen in his eyes, in his very person, that he would be someone worthy of being followed, if just to find out what he means. There is the other side too. Jesus must have seen that these men had the “right stuff” to be called to such a mission. Yet, in reality, they were no more perfect than you or me. They were made of the same flesh as ourselves and were prone to the same weaknesses and temptations as ourselves. They are us, in every sense of the word.

It is true that Jesus called the Twelve to be the first to hear the good news and to be those who would begin the process of bringing it to the world. But he is saying the same thing to each and every one of us as Christians today. “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” There is a big difference between fish and men. For men are the only creatures in creation who have been given a free will, who can see the truth and choose to follow it, or not. To be called to be fishers of men is a far more difficult, and even more important task than just fishing. Yet, in our weakness and smallness, we too are being called by Jesus to take up this mission here and now.

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Christ did not choose scholars, or political leaders, or powerful men to take up this task. Rather, he chose common folk, who were poor and powerless as the world goes. The truth was going to be revealed to and through these “little ones.” We are challenged here, once again, to recognize that God’s wisdom is not our wisdom. We may not understand these mysteries, for they are beyond us in our present state. What God wants of us is simply our faith, our trust that he knows what he is doing and that his purpose has meaning beyond the present moment, that it is larger than ourselves alone. He wants us to believe that, no matter how small and insignificant we are, he can use our faith to work his wonders of love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness through us in the world. I believe that this is what Peter and Andrew might have seen in Jesus there on the windy shores of the Sea of Galilee that day. There was no pride in their response. Rather, there was a very real, humble curiosity in them that would be fanned into a flame of faith so great that the world would change dramatically because they had chosen, along with the others, to “follow” Jesus.

Lord, we want to follow you like Peter and Andrew did that day. Help us to find the peace that only faith in you can bring. As simple and small as we are in the world, we know that you can make us true instruments of your love and peace in this world. We believe, Lord; help our unbelief. We pray in your name, Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.